Here’s Why Elon Musk is Wrong About Apple Intelligence

In Short
  • After Apple announced ChatGPT integration into iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, Elon Musk threatened to ban Apple devices at his companies.
  • It appears Musk's argument is misplaced as Apple has developed its own models to process AI requests on the device and through its Private Cloud Compute.
  • In addition, Apple devices will always seek the user's permission before sending the query to ChatGPT.

After the Cupertino giant announced Apple Intelligence at WWDC 2024, Elon Musk went on a tirade against Apple for integrating ChatGPT into iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Musk threatened to ban Apple devices at his companies for perceived “security violation”. Apart from introducing Apple Intelligence, Apple also partnered with OpenAI to integrate ChatGPT on Apple devices.

It seems Musk has jumped the gun as the Apple Intelligence system is separate from ChatGPT integration. Let me explain.

Elon Musk, Let Me Explain How Apple Intelligence Works

Just after the WWDC keynote, Elon Musk tweeted on X, “If Apple integrates OpenAI at the OS level, then Apple devices will be banned at my companies. That is an unacceptable security violation.

Here, Musk and many other skeptics are under the impression that Apple Intelligence is powered by OpenAI models, but that is not true. Apple has built its own foundation AI models, for both on-device and cloud processing. There are two types of Apple AI models: one, a small on-device AI model trained on 3 billion parameters, and another, a large AI model hosted on Apple’s cloud server.

Apple’s on-device model does the processing locally and does not send the data to any vendor. And to host the large server model, Apple has developed its own Private Cloud Compute, a cloud server built by Apple from scratch to process AI requests privately and securely. As I have explained in the linked article, Private Cloud Compute does not store personal data and not even Apple can access it.

chatgpt integration on iOS
Image Courtesy: Apple

As for the ChatGPT integration, Apple devices will always seek your permission before sending user queries to OpenAI servers. So it will be well within your discretion whether you want to use ChatGPT on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. On top of that, during the keynote Apple announced that OpenAI will not log user queries.

On its blog, OpenAI also notes:

Privacy protections are built in when accessing ChatGPT within Siri and Writing Tools—requests are not stored by OpenAI, and users’ IP addresses are obscured.

While OpenAI has had a chequered history — especially considering the recent ScarJo controversy — the assurance may be of help to some users.

Coming to Musk’s argument that ChatGPT might be integrated at the OS level, well, it’s indeed integrated to offer a seamless experience via Siri and Writing Tools without jumping through hoops. However, your Apple device will always ask your permission before sending any user query. Not to forget, ChatGPT is not the only AI model coming to Apple devices.

Apple has said that more AI models including Google’s Gemini model are coming to iOS and other Apple platforms. So the exclusivity agreement is not limited to OpenAI. Those users who are averse to OpenAI can very well choose other AI models to process AI requests, if Apple’s on-device and server models fail to perform the task intelligently.

To sum up, for most users, Apple’s AI models can do the job pretty well. And Elon Musk can choose to not send AI requests to ChatGPT or choose other AI models, should he desire to.

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