During last week’s earnings call, Tim Cook spoke briefly about Apple and artificial intelligence:
“In terms of generative AI, obviously, we have work going on. I’m not going to get into details about what it is, because as you know, we really don’t do that. But you can bet that we’re investing. We’re investing quite a bit. We’re going to do it responsibly, and it will… you will see product advancements over time where those technologies are at the heart of them.”
This feels to me like round two of the photos-in-the-cloud debate from a few years ago. Google was examining your photos on their cloud servers and then allowing you to search them for pictures of dogs, or mountains, or whatever. Apple explained they wanted to do that on device, which would give you the benefit of having this feature, without putting your photos out there.
I remember seeing Craig Federighi at one of the Live Talk Show events when he quipped something like, “We can buy pictures of mountains. We don’t need yours.”
When Apple gets around to sharing a generative AI product, it will also run locally on your device. (There is a reason for all those machine learning cores they’ve been stacking on their chips.) Again, people will wring their hands that it’s not possible to do on device what’s happening in server farms. Again, I expect we’ll find that what happens on our devices is good enough and 100% more private.
I’ve written on this before, but I sincerely hope Apple aims their AI research at automation and Siri. It could be their Siri moonshot.