Watch 1981 Steve Jobs Interview as He Assures America That Privacy Won’t Be a Problem With Computers

Steve Jobs

Computer privacy is huge right now. It’s actually kind of a nightmarish situation that has become a beast which is impossible to tame Thanks to computers everything and everyone is linked to each other and there is so much information being gathered and saved with every website we visit, every social media platform we’re subscribed to, every keystroke we make, and wherever we go. It’s crazy and kind of terrifying. We are leaving our digital footprints all over the internet!

This was a problem that some people were thinking about in the 80s when computers were still quite a new thing. While there was a lively and bright future to look forward to thanks to computers, there was also a concern growing that the technology would be used for harmful purposes.

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs delivered an interview with ABC News Nightline in 1981 and when these problems were brought up, he promised Americans that privacy wouldn’t be a problem as long as people become computer intelligent. Host Ted Koppel says:

“There is a sense, though, that many of us have, who really don’t understand how computers work or what they do for us or to us, that we are getting controlled by the computers. Any danger of that happening?”

Jobs responds with:

“Well, as you know, the product we manufacture, many people see it for the first time, and they don’t even think it’s a computer. It’s about 12 pounds, you can throw it out the window if the relationship isn’t going so well. And I think if you look at sort of the process of the technological revolution that we’re all in, it’s a process of taking very centralized things and making them very democratic, if you will—very individualized, making them affordable by individuals for a small collection of tasks, if you will, sort of from the passenger train to the Volkswagen.”

Koppel goes on to say, “The government has the capacity by using computers to get all kinds of information on us that we’re really not even aware that they have.” He then asks, “Isn’t that dangerous?” To which Jobs says:

“Well, I think the best protection against something like that is a very literate public, and in this case computer literate. And I think you’re actually seeing that happen right now. In the personal computer area … we’ve already reached approximately one in every thousand households in the United States, and I think over the next five or six years, that figure will be one in ten. Ultimately it will be one in one. And I think the feeling of computer literacy among the populous is the thing that, for me at least, gives me the most comfort—that that centralized intelligence will have the least effect on our lives without us knowing it.”

Watch the full video below.

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