Apple co-founder Wozniak sees trouble in the cloud

Steve Wozniak quit Apple in 1987
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, seen here in May 2012, has predicted "horrible problems" in the coming years as cloud-based computing takes hold.

Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple with the late Steve Jobs, predicted "horrible problems" in the coming years as cloud-based computing takes hold.

Wozniak, 61, was the star turn at the penultimate performance in Washington of "The Agony and the Ecstasy of ," monologist Mike Daisey's controversial two-hour expose of 's labor conditions in China.

In a post-performance dialogue with Daisey and audience members, Wozniak held forth on topics as varied as public education (he once did a stint as a school teacher) and reality TV (having appeared on "Dancing with the Stars").

But the engineering wizard behind the progenitor of today's personal computer, the Apple II, was most outspoken on the shift away from hard disks towards uploading data into remote servers, known as .

"I really worry about everything going to the cloud," he said. "I think it's going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years."

He added: "With the cloud, you don't own anything. You already signed it away" through the legalistic terms of service with a cloud provider that must agree to.

"I want to feel that I own things," Wozniak said. "A lot of people feel, 'Oh, everything is really on my computer,' but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we're going to have control over it."

Prior to Saturday at the Woolly Mammoth theater in Washington, Daisey and Wozniak had met once before, in California after a performance of "The Agony and the Ecstasy" in its original version in February 2011.

Wozniak was moved to tears, but a year later Daisey came under fire when it emerged that sections of his one-man show dealing with the Foxconn plant in China where iPhones and are assembled had been fabricated.

Public radio show "This American Life," which had broadcast portions of "The Agony and the Ecstasy," went so far as to issue a retraction. Daisey meanwhile reworked his script, albeit without toning down his powerful delivery.

On the minimalist stage Saturday, seated on plain wooden chairs, Daisey and Wozniak came across as a geek version of Tweedledum and Tweedledee in their baggy black clothes and matching beer bellies.

The bearded, fast-talking Wozniak sported running shoes and a massive wrist watch. In the theater lobby, for Saturday only, one of the very first Apple I computers ever built -- assembled in Jobs' garage -- was on display.

"Everything I designed was purely out of my head, never out of a book," recalled Wozniak, who quit Apple in 1987 after 12 years, taught fifth-graders, hit the lecture circuit and gave away some of his fortune to good causes.

Many in the audience echoed Daisey's concern about Foxconn's work force, but Wozniak said he expected labor conditions in China to evolve as the nation grows richer. He also commended Apple for its oversight of its factories.

"We know we (citizens and consumers) have a voice. We can speak (about labor conditions), but we can't act like, oh, Foxconn is bad or Apple is bad," he said.

Daisey begged to differ: "I hear what you're saying about that fact that everyone goes through an evolution, but it's not as if the evolution was natural in the sense that we are the ones who brought the jobs there."

While Apple designs its products in the United States, all its manufacturing takes place in China -- a sore point in an election year in which unemployment and a long-term exodus of manufacturing jobs overseas have been campaign issues.

Explore further

Apple co-founder on stage for disputed monologue

(c) 2012 AFP

Citation: Apple co-founder Wozniak sees trouble in the cloud (2012, August 5) retrieved 18 September 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Aug 05, 2012
Is he aware of the fact that Apple is building on of the largest datacenters in America for iCloud, Apple's cloud service? :)

Aug 05, 2012
Is he aware of the fact that Apple is building on of the largest datacenters in America for iCloud, Apple's cloud service? :)

Good one.

I fully agree with his concern over what he euphemistically refers to as "loss of control" over yer stuff if it is cloud-based. A classic no-brainer that absolutely anyone will instantly understand if they give even a single thought to what "cloud computing" entails.

In addition to loss of ownership, anyone and everyone(in operative terms) will have access to all yer stuff --and for any purpose-- because it will be universally accessible, instead of only being available through a single point of access, as is the case with non-cloud computing. And we already have enough problems with the "traditional computing" set up.

As far as China's labor situation evolving --that's a pipedream if ever there was one! It will evolve to the point of a management/tech/political elite presiding over a universal class of wage slaves. Like always.

Aug 05, 2012
I think it's good to keep YOUR documents on YOUR PC or laptop (like photo's or your documents). Keeping these important things on some company's server and relying on that - that's where problems are going to come.
People need to be educated so they can make a decision as to what they keep locally and what to store in the cloud, but I doubt that's going to happen so problems are going to occur.
Who's going to be the first company to do a 'whoops we just lost 100,000 people's personal photo's and documents'? It's bound to happen at some point.
Also a vast majority of people don't have fast enough internet connections for this to be realistic (especially upload speeds).

Aug 05, 2012
Who's going to be the first company to do a 'whoops we just lost 100,000 people's personal photo's and documents'?

Amazon did:

Cloud storage makes sense in some applications and not so much in others. If you're a distributed multinational where many people need to access the same data then it can make sense (though you should not forego local backups. And you DEFINITELY should be thinking about your own encryption scheme and not rely on that of the cloud provider).

For the individual it makes no sense whatsoever to move your data to the cloud.

Aug 06, 2012
Having your data on your pc is no protection. Many computers have been compromised, stolen, lost in house fires, floods, or simple hard drive failures. Many companies maintaining their own IT have lost data or have had security breaches. These problems are not new to cloud computing. The big difference is you are relying on a company to cover these concerns instead of doing so yourself. For many less computer savvy users on the consumer side, the cloud will offer as good if not better protection from these calamities. Don't be afraid, just choose your vendor and exposure wisely.

Aug 06, 2012
These problems are not new to cloud computing.

Of course not. But with a failure in the cloud there is the possibility of entire economies losing their data - not just indviduals (or individual companies). The problem is the same - the order of magnitude is not.

The big difference is you are relying on a company to cover these concerns instead of doing so yourself.

(Almost) all the larger companies have outsourced their IT to subcontractors. Whether your subcontractor is right there or "in the cloud" isn't a real difference here.

Don't be afraid, just choose your vendor and exposure wisely.

That is rather difficult to do. You can only go on reputation (if you had the ultimate expertise to judge them on their own turf you wouldn't need to outsource at all.)

Aug 06, 2012
Its an interesting comment from Kow as Apple keep up with Microsoft and Google. Experiencing cloud we have all done these past few years from hosting sites to 99% guarantee's of security safe, not all experiences have been good but the cloud is so much cheaper and efficient. Especially when you take into account the price of office space and the option of travelling more within organisations. Lets hope the cloud flare holds up and that Steve is on point to solve any unsolved solutions. Great stuff, well done.

Aug 06, 2012
If you aren't computer savvy, then you aren't likely to have anything on your computer that would constitute much of a loss. For anyone who uses their computer as any kind or repository of information - personal or professional, the "Cloud" is an accident waiting to happen. Working at a major institution with their own professionally managed network, I have had my work data lost on three occasions - forever, by their incompetence. It would have been lost permanently if I didn't have my own back up. Explain how the cloud will be any different. Serious computer users have redundant backups both disk and hard drives and that will always be more secure than the Cloud - which you should know has numerous backdoors for the gov. and of course the best hackers. You should also consider that the cloud is only as good as your local connectivity. My local is ATT and is worthless from a dependability standpoint - down every time there is a cloud in the sky and that's daily.

Aug 06, 2012
I think many of you are missing the point here. It's not about being backed up or losing data, it's about ownership. When you store on the cloud you go from owning to renting. Put your pictures on Facebook and Facebook gets copyright to them. Host your data on a cloud provider and that data is arguably theirs and no longer entirely yours. Stop paying the fees, get arrested, or cross the law in any way and you can be locked out of what you thought was your property. It's owning vs renting.

Aug 07, 2012
Just as a small example of how easily the unwary can be burned by the cloud- (as well as crowd-) sourcing: AI translations.

Suppose you get some docs (say, a call for papers or response for same, docs, specs, etc) in some language you are not fluent in. You bring up some automatic tranlslator in your browser, get your translation, everything's fine as could be. you realise you have just uploaded your (potentially confidential, sensitive) info up to the net for everyone to see. And I mean EVERYONE, not just a hacker, or some govt agency. Any other translator looking for something even vaguely similar is likely to have your text come up as a template!

Bingo, someone/anyone can view it without even trying. And if they start dredging through the data on purpose... data-mining comes to mind.

Aug 07, 2012
My opinion. Back up both with consumer-level stuff (time machine on Mac) on 1 HD, critical stuff on cloud (Dropbox, Skydrive - address db, Evernote), then an open source timed bootable backup (carbon Copy Cloner) on another HD, and occasional address book and some critical documents on DVD and in safe dep box -
I am NOT going with Apple's iCloud - two years ago I bought cloud space from an indy - they went away andvso did my data - it was a test anyway so I was ok but the test worked - hard drives are so inexpensibe now for TB you can get several and do a real industrial-strength back up scheme.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more