technology : Apple to integrate AI into new phones - and Elon Musk is angry

technology : Apple to integrate AI into new phones - and Elon Musk is angry
technology : Apple to integrate AI into new phones - and Elon Musk is angry

Wednesday 12 June 2024 10:47 PM

newsonline - Apple is set to integrate artificial intelligence into its new phones, but billionaire Elon Musk has threatened a ban of the devices at his companies over what he alleges are security fears.

The tech giant held its annual developer conference in California on Monday during which it made the long-awaited announcement that it was bringing AI to its devices.

Dubbed Apple Intelligence, it is a collection of features that includes text and image generation and an improved Siri voice assistant.

This will be supported by integrating the already popular ChatGPT into the company's phones.

However, Tesla and X owner Elon Musk, who has a long history with ChatGPT's owners OpenAI, warned that he would ban iPhones from all of his companies over the move.

Musk has a fractious relationship with OpenAI - he was a founder of the company but has since turned against it and accused it of failing to follow its founding principles.

Apple's new AI system would revamp Siri, allowing it to mine information from across a user's apps.

More on Apple

But South African billionaire Musk said the decision was an "unacceptable security violation" and said that if OpenAI is integrated at the OS level "then Apple devices will be banned at my companies".

He accused the Silicon Valley company, without evidence, of turning over user data to OpenAI.


Image: Elon Musk. Pic: PA
Apple's WWDC developer conference this week held at Apple Park headquarters. Pic: AP
Image: Apple's WWDC developer conference this week held at Apple Park headquarters. Pic: AP

In their announcement, Apple said that the new AI system would be rooted in privacy, carrying out most processes on the device itself.

Any computing done externally would be done through a new procedure called private cloud computer, Apple said - and claimed it would keep users' data secure.

They added that users would have to give permission before any request was shared with OpenAI.

Apple's foray into ultra-personalised AI is not without risk

Tom Clarke

Science and technology editor@t0mclark3

Apple - no stranger to bold product launches - has with Apple Intelligence attempted to rebrand the "AI" acronym itself. But is it smart Silicon Valley marketing or a hostage to fortune?

Apple's foray into ultra-personalised AI is not without risk for a company which has, in part, built its reputation on the security of its devices and its users' personal information. Perhaps that was why Craig Federighi, Apple's head of software engineering, spent a full 15 minutes of their launch presentation describing the safety of Apple Intelligence.

Most of its AI capabilities are run "on device" (provided your device is one of Apple's newest - the only models with enough processing power to run the new AI software) meaning the personal data used by the AI stays on your phone, tablet or computer. More complex requests would be handed on to Apple's own "Private Cloud Compute" service that promises your data isn't stored by any "off device" AI models it uses.

Where things are less certain, are around their new relationship with OpenAI's ChatGPT. The spookily powerful AI model GPT-4o model will now be accessible from apps on the latest Apple operating system, including through the Siri personal assistant. The choice to use ChatGPT with Siri is up to the user and your "requests and information" sent to OpenAI will not be "logged", according to Federighi.

Elon Musk has certainly expressed doubts about the safety of the move, but he's famously critical of OpenAI since falling out with those he helped found the company. But AI safety experts say the new relationship warrants scrutiny - not least because OpenAI has already partnered with Microsoft to power their Windows "Co-pilot" AI assistants.

The deal with Apple means OpenAI's models are now integrated into the products of the world's top two tech firms, used by billions - not quite an AI takeover, but a step in that direction.

The row reflects diverging views surrounding AI, and how quickly the technology is being developed and implemented.

When OpenAI announced ChatGPT back in November 2022 it fired the starting gun on the tech industry's AI arms race.

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Some of the biggest companies in the world, such as Microsoft and Google, have since surged ahead of Apple with their own use of AI.

But with this week's announcement Apple has thrust itself into the race.

It came after the company has seen slowing global sales over the past years and was recently overtaken as the second most valuable company in the world by Nvidia - an AI microchip maker.

The deal will also put ChatGPT, the highflying AI start-up, directly into the phones of possibly millions of users and place Apple alongside other tech companies in betting that AI is the future of their industry.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook said the AI features would be "indispensable" in the company's products in the years ahead.

But as recently as May of last year, the Washington Post reported that Mr Cook was less enthusiastic on AI, saying generative AI still had "a number of issues that need to be sorted".

After Monday's conference, Apple executives said the company was keen to do more deals with other AI chatbots to give users more options for generative tools.

Popularly used AI models have often been pointed out as having faults, including making up information.

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