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Wozniak says computers will become more like people

Computer guru Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs, yesterday predicted that computers would become more human.

Mr Wozniak said he had been told that computers would work as well as the human brain within 20 years.

He added: “I want my machines to become more like real people.”

And the Silicon Valley pioneer, who invented the world's first personal computer, said: “I think machines will become closer to real friends — but we don't know how to do it.”

Mr Wozniak was speaking on the final day of the ILS Bermuda convergence conference, which brought global high-flyers in insurance-linked securities to the Island in a bid to drum up business.

His appearance as the keynote speaker was sponsored by island accountancy firm KPMG.

Mr Wozniak — who also worked as a teacher after quitting Apple — added that thinking computers could even one day provide one-on-one education in schools and recognise individual children and their expressions and react accordingly.

He said: “What we need to do is get to that conscious computer, artificial intelligence — a thinking computer.”

And he relived the early days of Apple, which was inspired after Mr Wozniak used a computer circuit board to create a version of the arcade video game Pong and play it through his home TV.

Mr Wozniak said: “Steve Jobs took the board down to Atari and they hired him.”

But he admitted he was never sure if Mr Jobs, who died two years ago, had made it clear to the computer games firm that the board had been designed by Mr Wozniak.

He added: “He was never really a designer — he couldn't design and create products.”

But he said: “Our path was I would design things and Steve Jobs would turn them into money.”

Mr Wozniak added that he and Mr Jobs, although different in personality, had been close in their early years, but grew apart as Apple grew bigger and their careers and lives diverged.

He said: “As far as some of the ways he burned some people and hurt them — I could never do that.”

Silicon Valley pioneer Mr Wozniak co-founded Apple with computer world legend Mr Jobs and Ronald Wayne in 1976.

He was responsible for the design of the company's first computers. Mr Wozniak and Mr Jobs had earlier sold off some of their own possessions to raise $1,300 to assemble and sell Apple I printed circuit boards from a tiny assembly line set up in Mr Jobs' home.

The Apple II was the first personal computer able to display colour graphics and was one of the first successful mass-produced home computers.

Mr Wozniak, although he remains an employee and shareholder, gave up full-time work at Apple in 1987 and has since founded a string of technology companies and become heavily involved in philanthropic work.

Among a series of awards and honorary degrees, Mr Wozniak, together with Mr Jobs, who he first met when they attended the same California high school, was given the US National Medal of Technology by then-US president Ronald Reagan in 1985.

Mr Wozniak was inducted into the US National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2000.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published November 15, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated November 15, 2013 at 1:55 pm)

Wozniak says computers will become more like people

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