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Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple Intelligence: Belated AI Announcement Lacks Sustainability Focus, Triggers Elon Musk Criticism

June 11, 2024 by Joe Panettieri

Apple's AI technology, known as Apple Intelligence, will begin beta testing in the fall of 2024, the company said during its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC).

In many ways, Apple is a laggard in the generative AI market -- where OpenAI, Anthropic and Nvidia have been setting the pace, and cloud providers such as Microsoft, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services have been investing heavily. Even so, the consumer device market is largely devoid of generative AI products. And that may spell opportunity for Apple.

To play catchup in the generative AI sector, Apple is partnering with OpenAI. Ironically, the plan could be a big win for Microsoft -- an early OpenAI and AI energy efficiency investor.

The Apple-OpenAI plan drew criticism from Elon Musk, who alleges the close OpenAI integrations could trigger security risks on Apple's hardware. However, Apple CEO Tim Cook (pictured, top of page) insists Apple Intelligence will emphasize customer security and privacy.

AI and Energy Efficiency: Where's Apple Intelligence?

Alas, the official Apple Intelligence announcement did not mention potential sustainability or energy efficiency opportunities. That's a potential missed opportunity, since most major technology companies are extremely concerned about generative AI's energy consumption requirements.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, xAI and X

Meanwhile, Elon Musk is threatening to ban Apple products within his companies -- which include Tesla, X (formerly Twitter) and SpaceX, among others. Musk, an early OpenAI investor, alleges Apple hardware could face security risks from deep OpenAI integrations. He also alleges that OpenAI lost its way by prioritizing revenues over social good. Amid that backdrop, Musk is building an OpenAI rival called xAI.

Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook insists Apple Intelligence will emphasize customer security and privacy. He stated: "Apple Intelligence will transform what users can do with our products — and what our products can do for our users. Our unique approach combines generative AI with a user’s personal context to deliver truly helpful intelligence. And it can access that information in a completely private and secure way to help users do the things that matter most to them. This is AI as only Apple can deliver it, and we can’t wait for users to experience what it can do.”

In addition to the new Apple Intelligence strategy, Apple has an established net-zero strategy that extends from its own operations to partners.

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