- In the 1980s and 1990s, Steve Jobs made predictions about how technology and the internet would impact daily life that turned out to be surprisingly accurate.
- He predicted virtual assistants like Siri and e-commerce giants like Amazon long before these services existed.
- Among his biggest predictions of all was that the web would be everywhere.
Today, you wouldn’t leave the house without your smartphone. But back in the mid-1980s and 1990s, a device like the iPhone was still far out of the purview of most tech companies and the average consumer. Modern online media giants like Facebook and YouTube were still at least 20 years away, and Google first became a company in 1998.
To say the tech landscape was a much different place would be an understatement.
Yet Steve Jobs made several assessments about the impact that computers and the internet would have on our lives in speeches and interviews from the 1980s and 1990s. His remarks, particularly the ones he made in this Wired interview from 1996, were remarkably on-point.
Here’s what Jobs got right:
Apple launched the iPad in 2010, but it appears that Jobs had been thinking about tablets since as far back as 1983.
In an audio recording from Jobs’ speech at the International Design Conference in Aspen that year, Jobs refers to “an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you that you that you can learn in five minutes.” After the full recording surfaced in 2012 on the Life, Liberty, and Technology Blog, many media outlets pointed out that this description sounds very similar to the iPad.
Long before we had Siri or Alexa, Jobs predicted modern virtual assistants when asked about the role of computers in 1984.
“The next stage is going to be computers as ‘agents,’” he said in a 1984 interview with Newsweek’s Access Magazine published by The Daily Beast. “In other words, it will be as if there’s a little person inside that box who starts to anticipate what you want. Rather than help you, it will start to guide you through large amounts of information. It will almost be like you have a little friend inside that box.”
That sounds very similar to the way Apple’s Siri, Samsung’s Bixby, and the Google Assistant work on iPhones and Android phones today. These digital helpers learn more about you and your habits the more you use them and surface contextual information before you ask.
“You’d start to teach it about yourself,” Jobs also said during that same interview. “And it would just keep storing all this information about you and maybe it would recognize that every Friday afternoon you like to do something special, and maybe you’d like it to help you with this routine. So about the third time it asks you: ‚Well, would you like me to do this for you every Friday?‘ You say, ‚Yes,‘ and before long it becomes an incredibly powerful helper. It goes with you everywhere you go. It knows most of the raw information in your life that you’d like to keep, but then starts to make connections between things …”
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Source: business insider