With Microsoft, Google, and a host of other companies racing to perfect their version of chat-friendly artificial intelligence, one has to wonder what the biggest tech company out there has to say about it. The answer is: Not too much. Answering a reporter’s question during the company’s earnings call on Thursday, Apple CEO Tim Cook recognized AI as something that has huge potential. “I do think it’s very important to be deliberate and thoughtful on how you approach these things,” said Cook. “There’s a number of issues that need to be sorted…in a number of different places, but the potential is certainly very interesting.” Cook went on explaining how Apple had integrated AI and machine learning into its own products already, including the fall detection and crash detection features in the Apple Watch and the iPhone. He wouldn’t, however, directly address the topic that everyone is curious about: generative AI. That’s the tech behind OpenAI’s ChatGPT, the company’s multi-purpose chatbot that everyone seems to be using for something these days. “We view AI as huge, and we will continue weaving it into our products on a very thoughtful basis,” concluded Cook. Cook’s comments can be interpreted as critical towards Microsoft and Google, which have hurried to integrate generative AI into their search products. Apple has an absolutely massive platform on which it could deploy generative AI, including hardware products such as the iPhone, which comes with the virtual, AI-based assistant Siri, as well as software such as Safari and Maps. But the company doesn’t seem to be in a rush to integrate a language-based AI model like ChatGPT into its products, instead relying on AI for very specific features.
Besides avoiding the launch of a half-baked product (we’re looking at you, Bing and Bard), Apple has other reasons to be careful about integrating generative AI into one of its widely available products. In March, Italy’s data protection agency banned ChatGPT in Italy on grounds of inadequate protection of user data, and lack of mechanism to prevent minors from using the service. You can listen to a replay of Apple’s earnings call here.