Tech News : Apple & OpenAI Partnership : Musk Reacts

Following Apple’s recent announcement that it is partnering with OpenAI for its new AI system (which will see ChatGPT on Apple’s new phones), Elon Musk has threatened to ban Apple devices from his businesses. 

Apple And OpenAI 

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, announced at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference that, as part of its new personalised AI system, “Apple Intelligence”, a partnership with OpenAI will see ChatGPT integrated across all platforms – within iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia. This also means Apple’s new phones will have ChatGPT access and Apple’s Siri will also be able to “tap into ChatGPT”

Musk’s Reaction 

The announcement, however, did not go down well with ‘X’/Twitter and SpaceX boss Elon Musk. His reaction was to take to his ‘X’ platform to say: “If Apple integrates OpenAI at the OS level, then Apple devices will be banned at my companies. That is an unacceptable security violation”. 

In another comment, Musk said: “Visitors will have to check their Apple devices at the door, where they will be stored in a Faraday cage”. 

Fact Checked By Own Platform 

Other comments, however, such as Musk saying it’s “patently absurd” to think that Apple, which “isn’t smart enough to make their own AI” would be able to ensure OpenAI protected the security and privacy of its devices, and that Apple “has no clue what’s actually going on once they hand your data over to OpenAI” attracted the fact-checking of his own X platform over “misrepresenting what was actually announced”. 

Why? 

Musk’s objections are primarily focused around security and privacy issues. For example, Musk called the integration an “unacceptable security violation,” fearing it could compromise device security. 

Offering another critical reason why Apple is partnering with OpenAI (a partnership he described as “extremely concerning”) to use its products, Musk said Apple “isn’t smart enough to make their own AI.” 

Some, however, may think that the real reasons why Musk is objecting so strongly to the OpenAI / Apple partnership have more to do with factors like: 

– A history with OpenAI. Musk co-founded OpenAI but left due to disagreements over the company’s direction. He has since publicly criticised and even sued OpenAI, particularly targeting co-founder Sam Altman. 

– Criticism of AI leaders. Elon Musk has had public disputes with notable AI figures, including Meta AI chief Yann LeCun, reflecting his contentious stance on AI development practices. 

– Competitive interests. Mr Musk founded xAI, positioning its chatbot, Grok, as a direct competitor to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, highlighting his interest in the AI market. 

– Recent funding and valuation. For example, xAI’s recent $6 billion funding round, raising its valuation to $24 billion, may be an indicator of Musk’s serious investment in competing with OpenAI. 

What Does Apple Say? 

Apple had not (at the time of writing) replied to Musk’s comments. However, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, sees ‘Apple Intelligence’ as the company’s next big step, particularly given that it appears to have been slow in adopting AI. Tim Cook said: “Recent developments in generative intelligence and large language models offer powerful capabilities that provide the opportunity to take the experience of using Apple products to new heights”. 

It’s ‘all change’ for Apple recently anyway as it looks like Apple may need to open up its business practices CMA’s Digital Markets Unit (DMU) decides, later this year, it has a ‘Strategic Market Status’ (SMS) and decides that Apple has “substantial and entrenched market power” and a “position of strategic significance”. This could lead to measures for Apple like allowing third-party app stores, enabling app sideloading, unbundling WebKit from browsers, sharing data with competitors, and avoiding preferential treatment of its own services. 

What Does OpenAI Say? 

Understandably, Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI (no stranger to criticism from Elon Musk) seems very happy about the prospect of its partnership with Apple, saying: “We’re excited to partner with Apple to bring ChatGPT to their users in a new way. Apple shares our commitment to safety and innovation, and this partnership aligns with OpenAI’s mission to make advanced AI accessible to everyone. Together with Apple, we’re making it easier for people to benefit from what AI can offer.” 

Altman may also be happy about the fact that Apple is reported to have also had talks with Google about perhaps using Gemini but has opted for OpenAI.  OpenAI also works in partnership with Microsoft and this business relationship has attracted attention over possible antitrust concerns. 

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

The partnership between Apple and OpenAI could represent a significant shift in the tech landscape, particularly for businesses relying on Apple products. For Apple, this collaboration enhances its AI capabilities, integrating ChatGPT into its ecosystem, which could greatly improve user experience and operational efficiency. This move looks like positioning Apple as a major player in the AI field, potentially attracting more customers and boosting its competitive edge. 

For OpenAI, aligning with Apple will extend its reach and influence, embedding its technology into widely used consumer devices. This partnership could, therefore, lead to broader adoption of OpenAI’s technologies, fostering innovation and expanding its market presence. However, this could also mean increased scrutiny and the need to ensure robust security and privacy measures to maintain user trust. 

Elon Musk’s reaction is a sign of the competitive tensions in the AI industry. His threat to ban Apple devices from his companies highlights concerns over data security and privacy, which are actually critical for businesses to consider. Musk’s stance, however, may also be influenced by his competitive interests, given his involvement with xAI and its chatbot Grok. This rivalry could intensify as companies vie for dominance in the AI market. 

For the AI market, this partnership could be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it may accelerate AI integration and innovation, offering businesses advanced tools for efficiency and productivity. On the other hand, it raises concerns about data security, market monopolies, and the ethical implications of widespread AI use. Businesses must weigh these factors when adopting AI solutions, ensuring they align with their security policies and ethical standards. 

For business users of Apple products, the integration of ChatGPT means access to powerful AI capabilities that can streamline operations, enhance customer interactions, and drive innovation. However, it also necessitates a reassessment of data security practices to protect sensitive information against potential breaches. As AI continues to evolve, businesses must stay informed and adaptable, leveraging new technologies while safeguarding their interests.

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