AI news
June 13, 2024

Elon Musk Threatens To Ban iPhones With OpeAI Tech

Apple's iOS 18 and MacOS will be using OpenAI's GPT-4o model as its generative AI assistant across all apps.

Jim Clyde Monge
Jim Clyde Monge

When Apple announced its partnership with OpenAI and that ChatGPT would now be integrated into iOS 18 during the recently concluded WWDC 2024, xAI CEO Elon Musk was quick to express his disappointment through a series of tweets on X.

He threatened to ban Apple devices in his companies if Apple integrated OpenAI tech at the OS level.

He added that visitors “Will have to check their Apple devices at the door, where they will be stored in a Faraday cage.”

Elon Musk’s criticism of OpenAI technology integrated into iOS 18 and MacOS Sequoia stems from a complex web of historical, financial, and philosophical differences between him and the company.

So what’s with all the hate?

In case you didn’t know, Elon Musk co-founded OpenAI in 2015 alongside Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, and several young AI researchers.

Initially, the company aimed to develop AI for the greater good of humanity, with Musk’s vision of creating a counterbalance to Google’s dominance in AI research. However, Musk’s departure from OpenAI’s board in 2018 marked the beginning of a significant shift in the company’s direction.

Image from Wired

Musk’s frustration with OpenAI’s slow progress and his own financial contributions led him to propose taking over the company. This idea was rejected by OpenAI’s founders, who instead pivoted to a for-profit model, securing significant investments from Microsoft.

This change in direction further alienated Musk, who felt that OpenAI had abandoned its original mission to benefit humanity.

Elon Musk’s Criticism of Apple x OpenAI

Musk has publicly criticized OpenAI for straying from its original nonprofit mission and focusing on generating profits. He has also accused the company of becoming a “closed-source, maximum-profit company effectively controlled by Microsoft.”

Musk’s criticism intensified after OpenAI’s successful launch of ChatGPT, which he felt was a departure from the company’s original goals.

Mira Murati, Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, Ilya Sutskever
Mira Murati, Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, Ilya Sutskever

Security Concerns

Musk has raised security concerns regarding OpenAI’s technology integration into Apple devices. He claims that Apple, which he believes is not capable of developing its own AI, will be unable to safeguard OpenAI’s security and privacy.

He even followed up with this Tweet:

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!

As you can see above, MKBHD made it clear to him that Apple is not handing user data to OpenAI without the user’s permission.

I asked @tim_cook. He said Apple at no point sends any of your data to OpenAI without explicit user permission.

Here’s how the integration works:

Image from Apple

If Siri can’t answer your query, you can connect it to OpenAI’s ChatGPT-4o model for free. Yes, ChatGPT is completely free to use on iOS 18.

Here are more information you need to know about:

  • iPhone users do not have to have an OpenAI account
  • Siri will not send the query to ChatGPT without the user explicitly allowing it.
  • If the user has an account with ChatGPT, they can link it on their iPhone and have the “paid for” capabilities through Siri.
  • The queries and the logs tied to it are deleted after the request is finished.
  • Apple Intelligence will be available on iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max, and iPad and Mac with M1 and later.
  • Additionally, Apple will be obscuring your IP address whenever it makes a request to OpenAI services.
Privacy protections are built in for users who access ChatGPT — their IP addresses are obscured, and OpenAI won’t store requests. ChatGPT’s data-use policies apply for users who choose to connect their account.

Is Musk Building the X Phone?

Musk has not explicitly stated his plans for building the X phone. However, his criticism of OpenAI’s technology integration into Apple devices and his own AI company, xAI, suggests that he may be exploring alternative options for his AI technology.

If it’s true, the X phone is likely to be powered by Grok. But do you trust Musk or xAI to build an AI phone?

Final Thoughts

Honestly, seeing Musk throwing hate comments at Apple publicly, without a full understanding of how the feature works is somewhat silly. He’s salty because he missed out on the OpenAI hype after founding it.

Again, the ChatGPT integration into iOS is not on the OS level and the feature is opt-in. But how many people will actually opt out? Does the average person understand what risks are involved by opting in?

Sure, no company is completely reliable, but in my experience when it comes to safety and privacy, no major tech company is more reliable than Apple. I trust them more than Google or Meta.

Tech giants like Microsoft have already started an OS-level integration of OpenAI technology with Copilot PCs. Will Musk ban the use of these Microsoft laptops too?

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