Opinion | Apple CEO Tim Cook talks about the company’s new AI


Post Opinion columnist Josh Tyrande spoke with Apple CEO Tim Cook in Cupertino, California on Monday, shortly after the company unveiled its new AI technology, “Apple Intelligence.” This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Josh Tyrande: What is the most immediate benefit that Apple customers will get from enhanced AI?

Tim Cook: I think it saves time. It makes things more efficient. Think of Siri as an example: now you can have a conversation with Siri, which can basically do multiple steps with one request, whereas now it takes multiple requests. Writing tools: I get a lot of email, and I know not everyone uses email, but everyone writes. Having an assistant proofread it and make it more professional or more interesting or whatever you want is a big thing. I think the idea of ​​privacy being protected is a really big idea in today’s world. People want to be able to, in some way, [AI] It’s personal and private to them, and the two don’t usually go together very well. We found a way to thread the needle.

Tirangiel: Since you became CEO, you’ve spoken about Apple’s core values. Of all the products and software created under your stewardship, has AI tested those values ​​more than anything else?

Cook: We didn’t test it. We went into this saying, “These are our values ​​and we can’t deviate from them.” And we took the time to think deeply about it and came up with a product that we’re proud of. Given the size of the language models we were working with, we knew we needed to do something off-device. So that required some invention in the cloud. And we were lucky to be able to build it on top of what we had, which was Apple Silicon.

Tirangiel: Did you take special delight in calling it Apple Intelligence rather than Artificial Intelligence?

Cook: (lol) After seeing a bunch of names, it kind of seemed like a logical conclusion. At least to me, it wasn’t an imitation of artificial intelligence. It was kind of like calling it what it is. There will be a lot to be said about it, but it’s probably not what it seems.

Tirangiel: How confident are you that Apple Intelligence isn’t hallucinating?

Cook: It’s not 100%, but I think we’ve done everything we need to do, including really thinking about whether the technology is ready in the areas that we’re using. So I’m confident that it’s going to be very high quality. But I’ll be honest with you, it’s nowhere near 100%. I would never say it’s 100%.

Tirangiel: Apple partnering with OpenAI would be seen as an endorsement at a time when OpenAI likely needs one. Why do you think OpenAI and Sam Altman are trusted partners that share Apple’s values?

Cook: There are some things about their approach to privacy that I like. They don’t track IP addresses or do other things that we definitely want to make sure never happens. I think they were pioneers in this space and have the best model right now. I also think our customers want something with global knowledge sometimes. So we considered everything and everyone. Of course, we’re not stuck with one person forever. We work with others. But I think it’s because they were the first and they’re the best today.

Tirangiel: Has anything happened in the last 90 days that has caused you to question Sam’s judgment or the reliability of his products, or have you had any concerns that have you second-guessing them?

Cook: We’ve looked at them all and have concluded that choosing them is in the best interest of our users.

Tirangiel: What are the pros and cons of President Biden’s executive order on AI and the Senate roadmap on AI?

Cook: I don’t want to criticize either of them. From our perspective, what we need as a foundation for any kind of regulation is comprehensive privacy regulation. And it has to be important. Once that’s in place, it may become more clear what else needs to be done, but the foundation of it all is privacy. We’ve been advocating for comprehensive privacy legislation for years, and it’s even more important in an AI world than it was in a pre-AI world.

Tirangiel: What is your advice for journalism companies trying to ride the AI ​​wave? Should they license their content to one of the large language models or wait?

Cook: That’s a really good question. I think licensing is a really smart thing for some people. And it’s not clear why it’s a bad thing unless you’re not getting a good deal. You know, journalism is a challenging industry. So I think the idea that you can monetize it in a different way is a positive.

Tirangiel: I know people are concerned that previous clashes with this model by social media companies didn’t go well.

Cook: Yes, but the models are different. One gets paid. The other doesn’t actually get paid.

Tirangiel: Science fiction writer Douglas Adams once said that the technology we have as children is simply a natural part of the way the world works. Anything invented between the ages of 15 and 35 is exciting and revolutionary. Anything after 35 violates the natural order. You and I belong in the latter category.

Cook: I’m more enthusiastic than you!

Tirangiel: As the head of civilization’s most successful technology company, I’m curious if you find anything odd or unnatural about AI.

Cook: No, I don’t think so. I think this is an inevitable outcome of a lot of other innovations. Machine learning has been around for a long time. This isn’t exactly new. It’s new in the sense that people are talking about it on the street and stuff. But it’s not new. It takes people to think deeply and lay the groundwork around it. But I think it’s inevitable.

Tirangiel: Do you find joy in working with AI?

Cook: I get excited about helping people do things faster, better, and with higher quality. Anything that improves human existence. And I think AI can do that, as long as we keep it on the right trajectory. So I’m a fan. I’m not going to shy away from reality. I know scary things could happen one after another. That’s why we’re committed to being thoughtful in this space.



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