Explained: What is Apple Intelligence and why is Musk distrustful of it?
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in Cupertino, California, on Monday | AP

Explained: What is Apple Intelligence and why is Musk distrustful of it?

ChatGPT will be deeply integrated into all Apple devices but company claims it would put privacy “at the core” of AI; Musk threatens to ban Apple at his companies

Tech giant Apple, betting big on artificial intelligence, has introduced a slew of AI-powered features in its devices, including the iPhone, in partnership with OpenAI. ChatGPT will now be deeply integrated into all Apple devices as a chatbot, while its overhauled virtual assistant Siri, armed with ChatGPT, will be capable of performing many more smart tasks.

However, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, well known for his fear of AI, has threatened to ban Apple at his companies if it integrates OpenAI at the operating system (OS) level.

Apple Intelligence

Apple made the announcements as it unveiled “Apple Intelligence” at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in Cupertino, California, on Monday (June 10).

“All of this goes beyond artificial intelligence. It’s personal intelligence, and it is the next big step for Apple,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple, under mounting pressure to upgrade itself with the rapidly-evolving technological developments that its rivals Google and Microsoft have been lapping up, has hinted that it would put privacy “at the core” of AI, setting it apart.

Promise of privacy protection

Senior vice-president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, claimed “Apple Intelligence” puts AI models “right at the core of your iPhone, iPad and Mac” and “protects your privacy at every step”.

Thanks to these AI upgrades, users can use language prompts to create their own emojis, generate summaries of emails, and enjoy a host of other features.

The upgrades in Apple’s OS, iOS 18, set to be released later this year, will be available for free on all Apple devices, though all features will work only on the latest models of iPhone, iPad, and Macbook.

Musk’s take

However, Apple’s promise of privacy protection could not impress Musk, who lashed out at the company for “selling [users] down the river”.

Musk, who co-founded OpenAI in 2015, sued the company and its CEO Sam Altman in March, alleging they gave up its original mission to develop AI for the benefit of humanity and not for profit.

The billionaire went on to found his own startup, xAI, to challenge OpenAI and build an alternative to ChatGPT — Grok.

Musk’s warning

Taking to X, a social media company he now owns, Musk claimed that Apple would have no clue what happened to user data once it handed it over to OpenAI.

“If Apple integrates OpenAI at the OS level, then Apple devices will be banned at my companies. That is an unacceptable security violation,” he tweeted.

“And visitors will have to check their Apple devices at the door, where they will be stored in a Faraday cage,” he continued in another post.

“It’s patently absurd that Apple isn’t smart enough to make their own AI, yet is somehow capable of ensuring that OpenAI will protect your security & privacy!” he started another tweet.

“Apple has no clue what’s actually going on once they hand your data over to OpenAI. They’re selling you down the river,” he concluded.

“Creepy” software

Musk did not stop at posting on his own profile. He also replied to Tim Cook post on Apple Intelligence, calling ChatGPT “creepy spyware”.

“Don’t want it (Apple Intelligence). Either stop this creepy spyware or all Apple devices will be banned from the premises of my companies,” he replied.

Musk posted several other memes — one of them a viral one from India — and other content to suggest how ChatGPT is a spyware. One of the allegations against OpenAI is that it uses private data to train its chatbots in the name of personalisation.

Is Musk overreacting?

Some users argued that Musk was misrepresenting Apple Intelligence. It is Apple’s own creation, they said, adding that ChatGPT access is entirely separate and controlled by the user. Apple at no point sends any user data to OpenAI without permission, they pointed out.

Musk countered that with the following reply: “Apple using the words ‘protect your privacy’ while handing your data over to a third-party AI that they don’t understand and can’t themselves create is *not* protecting privacy at all!”

In another reply, he remarked about Apple Intelligence, “It is neither Apple nor intelligent!”

A Grok phone?

Amid all this, Musk also hinted at the possibility of a Grok phone.

When one user posted that he would prefer a Grok phone with Grok integrated, Musk replied: “If Apple actually integrates woke nanny AI spyware into their OS, we might need to do that!”

Like Musk, investors also seemed unimpressed with Apple’s announcements, as its shares went down by nearly 2 per cent.

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