Elon Musk Criticizes Apple for “Betraying” Users

WWDC 24 launched its first-day achievement, Tesla founder Elon Musk has recently expressed strong dissatisfaction and anger over Apple’s partnership with OpenAI. On the X platform (Twitter before), Musk stated that if Apple integrates OpenAI at the operating system level, his company will ban the use of Apple devices, calling it an unacceptable security violation.

The Background of OpenAI

OpenAI was initially founded as a non-profit organization on December 11, 2015, by tech giants including Musk, Y Combinator president Sam Altman, and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. In 2019, due to financial constraints, OpenAI transitioned to a “capped-profit” model and received a $1 billion investment from Microsoft.

As one of OpenAI’s original founders, Musk’s relationship with the organization soured drastically this year. In March, Musk filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and its CEO Sam Altman in the San Francisco Superior Court, citing a breach of contract.

Musk claims that Altman and OpenAI have deviated from the foundational agreement of the AI research company—to develop technology that benefits humanity, rather than for profit. The release of ChatGPT in March 2023 marked a significant departure from OpenAI’s principles, with GPT-4 being a closed-source model aimed more at commercial gains rather than human benefit.

Musk’s accusations against OpenAI include breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and unfair business practices. He demands that the company return to an open-source model.

Event: Apple and OpenAI

On Monday, Apple unveiled its long-awaited strategy at its World Wide Developers Conference. The firm announced the integration of OpenAI’s chatbot ChatGPT with its digital assistant Siri.

WWDC 24, Apple announced the launch of its personal intelligent system, Apple Intelligence. It integrated deeply into iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia. Apple also integrates ChatGPT into these systems, enabling users to utilize ChatGPT’s unique capabilities directly without switching between different tools.

During the announcement, Apple highlighted five key characteristics of its new AI system: powerful, easy to use, deeply integrated, personalized, and private. This move, however, raised significant privacy concerns.

Musk’s Criticism of Apple and OpenAI

Tesla founder Elon Musk has expressed dissatisfaction and anger over Apple’s partnership with OpenAI. Musk took to the X platform, stating that if Apple integrates OpenAI at the operating system level, his company will ban the use of Apple devices. He called it an unacceptable security violation.

Musk further stated This is absurd. Apple cannot develop its own artificial intelligence but ensures that OpenAI can protect your safety and privacy! Apple has no idea what happens to your data once handed over to OpenAI. They are completely betraying users.
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!

Musk’s criticism stems from the potential privacy trade-offs required to achieve such integration. He even commented on Tim Cook’s tweet, threatening to ban all Apple devices from his company’s premises and questioning the privacy safeguards of the Apple-OpenAI collaboration.

Privacy Concerns and Apple’s Solutions

The integration of AI into everyday life requires AI to understand users better than they know themselves, raising concerns about personal data privacy. Musk’s criticism stems from the potential privacy trade-offs required to achieve such seamless integration. He even commented on Tim Cook’s tweet, threatening to ban all Apple devices from his company’s premises and questioning the privacy safeguards of the Apple-OpenAI collaboration.

User concern is indeed valid, especially given Apple’s extensive active device ecosystem, which boasts over 2.2 billion devices. This move seems to contradict Apple’s long-standing commitment to privacy. Traditionally, AI functions on Apple devices have relied on local machine learning with minimal data requirements to prioritize user privacy.

While Apple didn’t address every privacy concern during the announcement, follow-up media briefings clarified more about Apple Intelligence’s privacy handling. Apple has introduced two new solutions for cloud-related data processing:

1. Selective Data Usage

Users don’t need to send all their data—emails, messages, photos, and documents—to external servers. Instead, Apple Intelligence identifies only relevant information needed to answer specific queries. Only this small subset of data is sent to the cloud, ensuring additional confidentiality measures.

2. Encrypted Communication

Apple has created an encrypted system where devices communicate only with servers bearing designated tags. If any software changes on the server, its signature changes too, allowing users to reject communication with altered servers.

For data handled in collaboration with OpenAI, Apple ensures that the IP addresses of registered users are hidden during service usage. Additionally, OpenAI is prohibited from recording user requests.

Conclusion

Elon Musk’s critique of Apple’s partnership with OpenAI highlights significant privacy and security concerns. While Apple has taken steps to address some of these issues, the debate continues about the extent to which personal data should be used to enhance AI capabilities.

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