Tim Cook talks politics, privacy and machines taking over

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Tim Cook and Ivanka Trump
Tim Cook at yesterday's WWDC event.
Screenshot: Apple

Following yesterday’s WWDC keynote, Tim Cook participated in an interview on CNN with Senior Technology Correspondent, Laurie Segall.

In a wide-ranging interview, Cook discussed everything from the threat of machines taking over to the “fundamental human right” of privacy to why he’s not interested in running for office. Here are the big takeaways:

On introducing tools to cut down people’s iPhone usage:

“We’ve never been focused on usage as a key parameter,” Cook said. “You know, empowering people with the facts will allow them to decide themselves how they want to come back.”

He then said that, despite thinking he had his own smartphone use under control, he was surprised by what the new screen usage figures told him. “Yes, I’ve been using it, and I have to tell you, I thought I was fairly disciplined about this, and I was wrong,” he said. “When I began to get the data, I found I was spending a lot more time than I should.”

He wasn’t willing to promote or throw any particular apps under the bus for occupying his time, though!

On machines taking over:

“I don’t subscribe to the machines taking over the world [hypothesis],” Cook said. “And I don’t worry about that. I worry much more about people thinking like machines.”

On privacy:

“I think the privacy thing has gotten totally out of control,” Cook said. “I think most people are not aware of who is tracking them, how much they’re being tracked, and sort of the large amounts of detailed data that are out there about them … We think privacy is a fundamental human right. Privacy from an American point of view is one of these key civil liberties that define what it is to be American.”

He noted that while he’s not a fan of regulation, in certain cases it may be a good thing for keeping tech companies in check.

On whether he would enter politics:

“I don’t see it,” said Cook, who was briefly considered as a possible running mate for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign. “I love getting things done. And I don’t love the political machine in the background, regardless of which party is where.” He continued that, “I’m not sure I would really do well in that environment. I think that I can make the greatest contribution doing what I’m doing.”

On what Congress should do about DACA

“I think my view on DACA is the Congress needs to fix DACA,” Cook said. “And fix DACA to me means allow everyone to stay in the country and stop this ridiculous discussion that people brought here as kids shouldn’t be allowed to stay here.”

On a possible trade war with China:

“No one will win from that,” Cook said. “It will be a lose/lose. And I think that when the facts are so clear like that, I think that both parties will see that and be able to work things out.” He then stated that he doesn’t believe the iPhone will get a tariff as part of new import duties.