Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered a commencement speech to students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Friday. Cook told students that science is worthless if it isn’t motivated by fundamental human values and the desire to help others, and urged them to use their powers for good.
Cook has been Apple’s CEO since 2011 and has overseen the rollout of the Apple Watch and the iPhone 7. He previously served as the chief operating officer and headed the Macintosh department in Apple.
Apple CEO encouraged MIT graduates to perform works that have positive impacts on humanity
Cook told MIT students that his company, Apple, is constantly looking for ways to combine technology with a sense of humanity and compassion.
“Whatever you do in life, and whatever we do at Apple, we must infuse it with the humanity we are born with,” said Cook, according to Time. “That responsibility is immense. But so is the opportunity.”
The CEO noted that his company wants to make products that help people. As examples, he cited iPhone technology, which can help a blind athlete run a marathon, and an iPad that can connect an autistic child to the world around them. He said that when you keep people at the center of what you can do, it can have an impact.
Cook also said that he isn’t worried about artificial intelligence giving computers the ability to think and reason as humans do.
“I’m more concerned about people thinking like computers without values or compassion or concern for the consequences,” said Cook, according to Time. “That is what we need you to help us guard against.”
He added that they need their help because if science is a search in the darkness, then the humanities are candles that contribute to showing where we have been and the dangers that may lie ahead.
‘Don’t listen to trolls, and don’t become one’
On Thursday morning the CEO also spent some time being interviewed at the MIT Media Lab’s Affective Computing Group, where he also listened to Rosalind Picard speak about depression. Picard is an expert in using wearable devices and phone data to measure human emotions, and is currently studying how data pulled from cell phones might help identify or predict depression.
As our phones become smarter each day, they could play a significant role in helping to track and understand ourselves. A way to accomplish this could be by leveraging artificial intelligence, and although Apple is often thought as lagging on AI when you compared it to Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, Cook claims that machine learning is already well integrated into iPhones.
On the commencement speech, Cook also urged graduate students to resist becoming cynical. The CEO told them that the internet enabled so much and empowered so many, but it can also be a place where basic rules of decency are suspended, and pettiness and negativity thrive.
“Don’t let that noise knock you off course,” said Cook, according to Time. “Don’t get caught up in the trivial aspects of life. Don’t listen to trolls, and don’t become one. Measure impact on humanity; not in the likes, but the lives you touch and the people you serve.”