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Steve Jobs describes future of personal computing in 1983 speech


A 1983 speech from late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was made available recently, with the tech guru expounding on how personal computers would change the landscape of technology forever.

The talk, made available by the Center for Design Innovation (via The Next Web), was from 1983's International Design Conference at Aspen, at which a 20-something Steve Jobs spoke to how personal computers would change the world forever. His insight was eerily prescient as he described a day when email would dominate the communications landscape, people would use portable network-connected computing devices and users would be able to interact with machines in new and innovative ways.

In about 20 minutes, Jobs summarized the then-current state of personal computing, noting that the market was about to see a significant boom. He also said that computers would likely be poorly designed, a theory that became reality with the early beige boxes of the 80s and early 90s, including Apple's own Apple II.

Jobs' vision of "good design" meant not only building aesthetically pleasing machines, but devices that had a utility of function like user-friendly GUIs akin to those seen on early Macs.

Near the end of his talk, Jobs looked even further into the future, hinting that technology like artificial intelligence and predictive computing could one day be a possibility.

He recalls how books helped him learn straight from the source instead of being filtered through interpretation when he was in school, citing Plato and Aristotle as two examples. The problem, Jobs said, was that the great minds couldn't be tapped once they were dead. To this, he proposed a machine that can collect data, compiling it into a type of artificial intelligence.

"I think as we look toward the next 50 to 100 years, if we really can come up with these machines that can capture an underlying spirit, or an underlying set of principles, or an underlying way of looking at the world so that then when the next Aristotle comes around…" Jobs said. "Maybe if he carries around one these machines with him his whole life and types in all this stuff, then maybe someday after the person's dead and gone we can ask this machine, 'Hey, what would Aristotle have said…what about this?' And maybe we won't get the right answer…but maybe we will. And that's really exciting to me."

A video of the speech as well as an accompanying audio file can be found at the Center for Design Innovation's blog.