Sour Grapes? Elon Musk Says Apple Intelligence Is ‘Creepy Spyware’

Elon Musk is going out of his way to condemn Apple Intelligence, claiming it amounts to installing spyware on iPhones. “Don’t want it. Either stop this creepy spyware or all Apple devices will be banned from the premises of my companies,” Musk posted on Twitter/X. Based on his tweets, Musk’s main gripe is that Apple is partnering with OpenAI to enable some of the AI-related enhancements. This includes integrating ChatGPT into iOS 18, macOS Sequoia, and the company’s voice assistant Siri.

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According to Musk, the ChatGPT integration poses a privacy threat because OpenAI harnesses users’ conversations to train its AI models. “Apple has no clue what’s actually going on once they hand your data over to OpenAI. They’re selling you down the river,” he tweeted. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But the company’s AI push isn’t that straightforward. It’s true that Apple is offering a ChatGPT integration for iOS 18 and macOS Sequoia. But Cupertino is telling consumers “you control when ChatGPT is used and will be asked before any of your information is shared,” meaning opting out should be easy. In addition, “IP addresses are obscured, and OpenAI won’t store requests,” Apple says.Alongside the optional integration of ChatGPT, Apple also wants to offer its own AI capabilities for Siri and other tools through what it’s calling Apple Intelligence. On one level, this will involve running AI-powered apps locally on the device, rather than tapping third-party servers, thus protecting the user’s data. But for more compute-heavy AI tasks, the company has developed its own Private Cloud Compute servers to run Apple Intelligence services. These servers have been designed to  “ensure that data is never retained or exposed,” Apple said at WWDC. 

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The company’s approach might raise questions over which AI services on iOS and macOS will receive more robust privacy protections. But in the meantime, Musk claims it’s “patently absurd that Apple isn’t smart enough to make their own AI, yet is somehow capable of ensuring that OpenAI will protect your security & privacy.”

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Musk isn’t exactly an objective observer here. He has an ongoing beef with OpenAI—a company he co-founded—over claims that ChatGPT has a programming bias that causes it to circulate propaganda. Musk (who uses an iPhone) also has his own chatbot, dubbed Grok, which has had its own trouble with the truth lately, so he may not be pleased that ChatGPT is poised to get even more popular once it’s available directly from iPhones.Apple Intelligence arrives as a beta this fall through via iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia for those with an iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max, and iPad and Mac with M1 chips and later.

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