Generative artificial intelligence has become the tech story of the year, and perhaps the decade, as companies like Microsoft (MSFT), Google (GOOG) (GOOGL) and a host of others integrate it into their products and services.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), with a market cap of $2.4T and counting, is obviously in no place to eschew using AI, as it has done so previously. But Chief Executive Tim Cook said progress needs to be more nuanced than some in the tech space would have people believe.
“I do think it’s very important to be deliberate and thoughtful in how you approach these things,” Cook said in response to a question on Apple’s (AAPL) fiscal second-quarter earnings call that was related to generative AI.
“And there’s a number of issues that need to be sorted,” Cook said. “As is being talked about in a number of different places. But the potential is certainly very interesting.”
Cook added that Apple (AAPL) has already integrated AI into its products and services, including the fall and crash detection technology in the iPhone and Apple Watch, as well as ECG readings on the Watch. He also said that the potential for AI is “huge,” but that the company would integrate it on a “very thoughtful basis.”
Last month, it was reported that Apple (AAPL) was working on a health coaching service powered by artificial intelligence and mood tracking. The service – internally known as Quartz – may be designed to urge users to exercise, have better eating habits and improve their sleep.
But unlike other companies that train their models and algorithms off of public data, Apple (AAPL) has continued to make it a priority to have its AI learn on people’s devices for the sake of privacy.
That distinction between Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Google (GOOG) (GOOGL) and others has led to some employees leaving Apple, as they reportedly view companies like Google (GOOG) (GOOGL) as better places to work on large language models.
Despite that stark difference, Apple (AAPL) has continued to make inroads in AI and has continued to make AI-linked acquisitions. In March, it was confirmed that Apple (AAPL) had acquired WaveOne, a video startup that was working on artificial intelligence algorithms used to compress video.
Cook’s comments came after the White House and Vice President Kamala Harris met with the CEOs of leading AI companies like Google (GOOG) (GOOGL), Microsoft (MSFT), OpenAI and Anthropic this week to discuss the dangers to public safety, civil rights and privacy from AI.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the meeting was a “frank conversation” and that companies need to be more transparent with policymakers, the public and others about their AI systems for a number of reasons.
And though Cook has continued to reiterate to investors that AI is a “major focus” for the company, it sounds like the legendary tech CEO is calling for Silicon Valley to use moderation and control when it comes to AI instead of its usual mantra: move fast and break things.
More on Apple’s earnings results