“I think technology can help solve some of the most important problems facing humanity, from climate change to today’s incurable diseases. But to do this we must move together in the same direction ”. Tim Cook is optimistic, summing up his long Neapolitan day in a room at the Apple Academy in San Giovanni a Teduccio. An optimism that the CEO of Apple expressed even a few hours earlier, in the Aula Magna of the Federico II University: “We are living in a crucial historical moment. From the war in Ukraine to the uncertainty pervading the global economy, we face extraordinary challenges. Yet this is also a time of unprecedented opportunity, where the promise and potential of innovation grow faster than ever. “
Cook is in Naples to receive an honorary degree in Innovation and International Management, but also to keep a promise made six years ago, when the Academy was announced. In San Giovanni a Teduccio he arrives in the early afternoon, with other executives, including Lisa Jackson, vice president and responsible for initiatives for the environment, society and policy. TOlistens, shakes hands, stops for dozens of selfies; she finally she goes up on the stage of the auditorium and answers the questions of the students. “From my university years – she explains – I have not so much the notions left as the ability to solve problems”. It is the very idea of the Academy: you learn by doing, on a campus that could be in Silicon Valley and instead is a stone’s throw from the streets of Gomorrah.
And we learn together, giving space to each other’s differences and perspectives: “If I share my idea, it grows and becomes better, because everyone can make a contribution,” says Cook. And he quotes an old and famous Apple slogan: “We are looking for people who think differently, that is, outside the dogma. To work with us you need curiosity and the ability to ask questions, because there are no stupid questions “.
From passion to work
There are about two thousand graduates of the Academy so far, and many have turned their passion into a job. “The ecosystem of iOS apps in Europe has created 2.3 million jobs,” Tim Cook explains. entrepreneurs. “But work is not everything, for the number one of the largest tech company in the world:” We need to find a greater reason. My vision of the company is to serve users and improve their lives, but to do it in a way ethical. Without this there is no center of gravity that keeps you anchored to your purpose and that pushes you to give your all to make the world a better place “.
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Leave a better world
For example, a place where everyone can choose what to do with their personal data: “Privacy is a fundamental human right, which must be defended because it concerns our freedom of movement and expression. More and more people are aware of this, and I am optimistic, it means that we are going in the right direction, ”she observes.
Another of the cornerstones of Apple culture is attention to the environment. “For over two years we have been carbon neutral in all our global activities,” he says, and explains how, in order to reduce the ecological impact, in every sector of the company, established practices and habits are being questioned, for example by eliminating plastic. that wraps the sales packages. This too is a challenge that can only be overcome together with others: “We are committed to ensuring that our suppliers also reduce emissions more and more”. The goal he unveils in Naples is even more ambitious: “Our idea is to take nothing from the earth to build new products”.
It’s a matter of choice, Cook reflects: “By itself, a technology is not inherently good or bad, it is neutral. It is up to those who invent it and those who use it to imagine the possible implications, avoid the negative aspects and accentuate the positive ones.” Earlier he cited the Apple Watch as an example to the boys and girls in the auditorium, with which you can take an electrocardiogram at any time, and which allowed you to discover potentially fatal diseases and malformations by chance. But Apple has devised other ways to save the lives of its customers: in the latest iPhone there is a system that automatically calls for help in the event of a traffic accident, and it is possible to send emergency messages even without cellular coverage. Why not share these features with Android, as it was with the Covid-19 contact tracking platform? “A huge level of integration between hardware and software is required. However, the industry has a habit of following us when we do something, so these functions could be a starting point for other manufacturers ”.
From the metaverse to the Melaverse: Apple prepares a viewer for augmented reality
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Speaking of new technologies, the CEO of Cupertino jokes with those who ask him about the next products, but then clearly indicates a path: “One day we will ask ourselves how we managed to live without augmented reality,” he says. In private he goes into more detail: “There are already apps that allow us to see how a sofa or a painting would look in our living room, but we will go much further, because AR is a horizontal platform, capable of influencing all vertical sectors in meaningfully, from education to medicine “. Cook has often discussed his interest in augmented reality, and it’s no secret that Apple is working on augmented reality headsets, almost certainly coming within next year.
The reaction to virtual reality and the metaverse is less enthusiastic: “For me it is important that people fully understand what it is, and I’m not sure that many today can say what virtual reality means. I think there is a space for virtual reality as something to immerse yourself in, but I don’t think anyone wants to live like this all their life. Virtual reality must be used for a specific period of time, it does not seem to me, for example, the best way to communicate between people. I’m not against it, it’s just that I see it usable only for certain purposes “.
Virtual, augmented and mixed reality have in common the fact of redesigning the limits of our daily experiences through digital. And it all comes from software, from millions of lines of code. “Programming should be taught in school, from elementary school, as a truly universal second language,” notes Cook. “I think it’s a way of expressing yourself, drawing on your creativity, to face the things that are wrong with the world and change them. Today at the Academy I met some developers working on an app to help schools in Africa manage their information technology. I’m not saying we all have to become programmers, but for me code helps develop critical thinking, a skill that can come in handy on many occasions ”.
Ten years without Steve Jobs
by Bruno Ruffilli
Years ago Steve Jobs insisted on the importance of coding and had started several programs with schools and universities. The founder of Apple, explicitly or implicitly, often recurs in the words of Cook, who in his speech defines him as “a visionary genius”. “We are all inspired by Steve,” he says at the end of our meeting. “His ethics, his DNA will always be the foundation of Apple. And I think it’s right, because we venerate our founder, we love what he represented and we want to continue his journey ”. Because the secret of happiness is in the journey, as he reminds students of the Academy: “At your age I was too focused on the next step, whether it was a job or a promotion. But I learned from Steve that joy is in the path, not in the finish ”. Later he comments on his words: