Apple had one of its largest WWDC keynotes in recent memory this year, with monumental announcements like the new Vision Pro headset. But one area where Apple was shockingly silent was AI, especially after the cascading rise of apps like ChatGPT.
Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, said the company is being patient with AI for now in an interview with Good Morning America. “I do think it’s so important to be very deliberate and very thoughtful in the development and the deployment of [Large Language Models],” Cook said. “Because they can be so powerful that you worry about things like bias, things like misinformation, maybe worse in some cases.”
Since the release of ChatGPT, a wave of generative AI has swept nearly every area of tech — short of Apple, which has kept its AI cards close to the chest. Not only do we have ChatGPT now, but also Bing Chat integrated into Windows and Microsoft Edge, as well as Google Bard slowly making its way into the world’s largest search engine.
Apple says that it doesn’t want to jump on the bandwagon right now. “Regulation is something that’s needed in this space; I think guardrails are needed,” Cook said. “And if you look down the road, I think it’s so powerful that companies have to employ their own ethical decisions. Regulation will have a hard time staying even with this because it’s moving so quickly.”
As the executive points out, however, Apple still uses AI throughout its products in many different ways. Dedicated AI processors are available on Macs and iPhones, and they’re used for everything from managing battery life in laptops to registering Face ID.
The AI we’re talking about in 2023, however, is generative AI, built out of Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT. Apple hasn’t shared if it’s developing an LLM of its own, or if it will tap a model like GPT-4 to create its own apps. It’s something Apple is paying attention to, though.
When asked if Cook used ChatGPT, the executive didn’t mince words: “Absolutely I use it.” He continued, “I think there are some unique applications for it, and you can bet that it’s something that we’re looking at closely.”
Despite this, Apple has restricted employees from using ChatGPT, as well as GitHub’s AI-driven Copilot feature. Apple reporter Mark Gurman says that ChatGPT has been on the list of restricted software at Apple “for months.”
There’s no doubt Apple is aware of how important ChatGPT has become in the world of tech, though. After announcing its Vision Pro headset, the company’s stock took a dip, with analysts reporting that most investors wanted to see Apple introduce new AI software. Apple is the world’s largest tech company when it comes purely to revenue, so the silence on AI has been strange.
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