Wozniak sides with Tim Cook vs. FBI, but not so much on Apple Watch

In a wide-ranging "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit, the Apple co-founder offered his personal and nuanced defense of Apple's stance and also attempts to reframe a great fast food debate.

Eric Mack
Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Contributing editor Eric Mack covers space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
3 min read
Enlarge Image

Proof of "Woz" life.

Steve Wozniak / imgur

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak talked about Apple's iPhone fight with the FBI, his favorite fast food chains and more in a wide-ranging "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit on Wednesday.

Wozniak's wife, Janet, once told me that Steve gets stressed out by birthdays in the social media age because he feels the need to respond to every well-wishing he receives. Woz was true to form and his nicest-guy-in-Silicon-Valley reputation during this AMA session, providing thorough and thoughtful answers to a number of questions.

On the hot topic of Apple's showdown with the government over accessing the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters, he offered a personal and philosophical defense of Tim Cook's position:

"You know what, I have things in my head, some very special people in my life that I don't talk about, that mean so much to me from the past. Those little things that I keep in my head are my little secrets. It's a part of my important world, my whole essence of my being. I also believe in honesty. If you tell somebody, 'I am not snooping on you,' or, 'I am giving you some level of privacy; I will not look in your drawers,' then you should keep your word and be honest. And I always try to avoid being a snoop myself, and it's rare in time that we can look back and say, 'How should humans be treated?' Not, 'How can the police run everything?'...

So, I come from the side of personal liberties. But there are also other problems. Twice in my life I wrote things that could have been viruses. I threw away every bit of source code. I just got a chill inside. These are dangerous, dangerous things, and if some code gets written in an Apple product that lets people in, bad people are going to find their way to it, very likely."

On Cook's leadership of Apple, Woz is mostly a fan, but does offer his misgivings about one of the company's newest addition:

"I mean I love my Apple Watch, but - it's taken us into a jewelry market where you're going to buy a watch between $500 or $1,100 based on how important you think you are as a person. The only difference is the band in all those watches. Twenty watches from $500 to $1100. The band's the only difference? Well this isn't the company that Apple was originally, or the company that really changed the world a lot."

Among the other things Woz says he loves besides his Apple Watch are his Amazon Echo, his Oculus Rift and Outback Steakhouse.

"I just can dig into the variety of things they have on their menu depending on what I'm feeling that night," Wozniak says when asked to choose between Outback and In-N-Out. "I wish you'd ask something more like "In-N-Out or Panda Express?", that would be a tougher one."

I love that one of the fathers of our digital age thinks equally deeply about all hard choices, be it about digital privacy or fast food. Thanks, Woz.