Apple CEO Tim Cook Urged MIT Graduates to Measure Their Impact on Humanity by ‘Lives’ not ‘Likes’

On Friday, Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered the commencement address at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

As the head of one of the leading technology corporations, Cook urged graduates to continue moving technology forward but to do so with the power of good in mind.

He noted that after 15 years of searching for his own answer to the question, “What is my purpose?” he found it at Apple — to serve humanity.


Cook told graduates, “When you keep people at the center of what you do, it can have an enormous impact” and highlighted three examples:

  1. An iPhone that allows a blind person to run a marathon
  2. An Apple Watch that catches a heart condition before it becomes a heart attack
  3. An iPad that helps a child with autism connect with his or her world

Even with all the benefits, technology isn’t without its costs. He described his concern to the class of 2017:

“I’m not worried about artificial intelligence giving computers the ability to think like humans. I’m more concerned about people thinking like computers without values or compassion, without concern for consequences.”

He added, “The internet has 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.”


Cook urged graduates to not let that “noise” distract them or “get caught up in the trivial aspects of life.” In addition, he advised his audience to not “listen to trolls, and for God’s sake don’t become one.”

As someone who worked alongside the man who created the iPhone, which in turn transformed our ability to be plugged in, he offered shocking yet incredibly poignant advice and said:

“Measure your impact on humanity not in likes, but in the lives you touch; not in popularity, but in the people you serve. I found that my life got bigger when I stopped caring what other people thought about me. You will find yours will too.”

Cook declared that technology must be infused with the humanity we’re born with, although throughout their budding careers they will find it’s not always easy. The Apple CEO explained this resolve to serve humanity will be tested, but they should “stay focused on what really matters,” and added:

“People will try to convince you that you should keep your empathy out of your career. Don’t accept this false premise.”

His career began in 1982 and after 35 years, Cook learned that “how can I serve humanity?” is life’s “biggest and most important question.” He explained, “When you work towards something greater than yourself, you find meaning, you find purpose.”

Cook concluded by telling graduates to, “use your minds and hands and your hearts to build something bigger than yourselves.”

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