Apple CEO Tim Cook: “You are no longer a customer. You are the product


Trends has collected the main thoughts of the Apple CEO from his public speeches in recent years – about the value of data, technology and the future.

About data protection

“As far as privacy is concerned, I think this is one of the main problems of the 1st century. It is on a par with climate change.” [one]

“Ethical artificial intelligence is as important as the ethical collection of personal data. You can’t focus on just one thing – these phenomena are closely connected and are of paramount importance today.”

“In a time of disinformation and conspiracy theories fueled by algorithms, we can no longer hide behind the theory that any interaction in the field of technology is for the good, in order to collect as much data as possible. A social dilemma must not be allowed to turn into a social catastrophe.”

“Technology doesn’t need huge amounts of personal data linked by dozens of websites and apps. Advertising has existed and flourished for decades without it. The path of least resistance is rarely the path of wisdom.”

“No information seems to be too personal or too private to be tracked, monetized, and aggregated to give you a comprehensive overview of your entire life. The upshot of all this is that you are no longer a customer, you are a product.” [2]

“In a world without digital privacy, even if you haven’t done anything wrong other than thinking otherwise, you start censoring yourself. A little at first. Take less risks, hope less, dream less, laugh less, create less, try less, talk less, think less.” [3]

About technology regulation

“I think that the GDPR (general data protection regulation adopted in the EU in 2018. — Trends) became an excellent fundamental position. It must be accepted all over the world. And then, building on the GDPR, we have to take it to the next level.”

“We need governments around the world to join us and offer a single global standard [for protecting personal data] instead of a patchwork quilt.”

“Technology needs to be regulated. Now there are too many examples where the lack of restrictions has led to great damage to society.” [four]

On the storming of the Capitol and the polarization of society

“Technology can be used to make progress, optimize efforts, and sometimes try to manipulate people’s mindsets. In this case (during the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. — Trends) they were clearly used to harm. We must do everything so that this does not happen again. Otherwise, how are we going to get better?” [one]

“It is high time we stopped pretending that our approach to the use of technology does not cause harm – the polarization of society, lost trust and, yes, violence.”

“What will be the consequences of thousands of users joining extremist groups, and then the algorithm recommends them even more of the same communities?” [5]

About Apple

“I am convinced that the day will come when we look back and say: “Apple’s greatest contribution to humanity is healthcare.”

“Apple has never aimed to make the most of a user’s time. If you’re looking at your phone more than other people’s eyes, you’re doing it wrong.” [four]

“One of the major problems in technology today is the lack of accountability on the part of platforms. We always take responsibility.”

“We use unique engineering to not collect a ton of data, justifying it with the fact that we need it to do our job.” [6]

About future

“Will our future be filled with innovations that make life better, more fulfilling and more human? Or will it be filled with tools that serve increasingly aggressive targeted advertising?” [2]

“If we accept as normal and inevitable that everything in our lives can be sold or published on the Web, then we will lose much more than data. We will lose the freedom to be human.”

“Our problems – in technology, in politics, anywhere – are human problems. From the Garden of Eden to the present day, it is humanity that has drawn us into this chaos, and it is humanity that must bring us out.”

“Don’t try to imitate the people who came before you by taking on a form that doesn’t suit you. It requires too much mental effort – effort that should be directed towards creation. Be different. Leave something worthy. And always remember that you cannot take it with you. We’ll have to pass it on to posterity.” [3]

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