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Elon Musk threatens to ban Apple devices from his companies over Apple’s ChatGPT integrations
June 14, 2024

Elon Musk threatens to ban Apple devices from his companies over Apple’s ChatGPT integrations

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Elon Musk is threatening to ban iPhones from all his companies over the newly announced OpenAI integrations Apple announced at WWDC 2024 on Monday. In a series of posts on X, the Tesla, SpaceX and xAI exec wrote that ‘if Apple integrates OpenAI at the OS level,’ Apple devices would be banned from his businesses and visitors would have to check their Apple devices at the door where they’ll be ‘stored in a Faraday cage.’

His posts seem to misunderstand the relationship Apple announced with OpenAI or at least attempt to leave room for doubt about user privacy. While Apple and OpenAI both said that users are asked before ‘any questions are sent to ChatGPT,’ along with any documents or photos, Musk’s responses indicate he believes OpenAI is deeply integrated into Apple’s operating system itself and therefore able to hoover up any personal and private data.

In iOS 18, Apple said people will be able to ask Siri questions, and if the assistant thinks ChatGPT can help, it will ask permission to share the question and present the answer directly. This allows users to get an answer from ChatGPT without having to open the ChatGPT iOS app. Photos, PDFs or other documents you want to send to ChatGPT get the same treatment.

Musk, however, would prefer that OpenAI’s capabilities remain bound to a dedicated app — not a Siri integration.

Responding to VC and CTO Sam Pullara at Sutter Hill Ventures who wrote that the user is approving a specific request on a per-request basis — OpenAI does not have access to the device — Musk wrote, ‘Then leave it as an app. This is bullshit.’

Pullara had said that the way ChatGPT was integrated was essentially the same way the ChatGPT app works today. The on-device AI models are either Apple’s own or those using Apple’s Private Cloud.

Meanwhile, replying to a post on X from YouTuber Marques Brownlee that further explained Apple Intelligence, Musk responded, ‘Apple using the words ‘protect your privacy’ while handing your data over to a third-party AI that they don’t understand and can’t themselves create is *not* protecting privacy at all!’

He even replied to a post by Apple CEO Tim Cook, wherein he threatened to ban Apple devices from the premises of his companies if he didn’t ‘stop this creepy spyware.’

‘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 exclaimed in one of many posts about the new integrations. ‘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 said. While it’s true that Apple may not know the inner workings of OpenAI, it’s not technically Apple handing over the data — the user is making that choice, from the sound of things.

Apple also announced another integration that would allow users to have access to ChatGPT system-wide within Writing Tools via a ‘compose’ feature. For instance, you could ask ChatGPT to write a bedtime story for your child in a document, Apple suggested. You could also ask ChatGPT to generate images in a number of styles to complement your writing. Through these features, users will essentially be accessing ChatGPT for free without the friction of having to create an account. That’s great news for OpenAI, which will soon have a massive influx of requests from Apple users.

Apple users may not understand the nuances of the privacy issues here, of course — which is what Musk is counting on by making these complaints. If users could set their own preferred AI bot as the go-to for Siri requests or writing help, like Anthropic’s Claude or — say, xAI’s Grok — it’s doubtful that Musk would be yelling this loudly about the dangers of such an integration. (In fact, Apple just hinted that Google Gemini could be integrated in the future, in a post-keynote session.)

In its announcement, Apple says that users’ requests and information are not logged, but ChatGPT subscribers can connect their account and then access their paid features directly within Apple’s AI experiences.

‘Of course, you’re in control over when ChatGPT is used and will be asked before any of your information is shared. ChatGPT integration will be coming to iOS 18 iPadOS 18 and macOS Sequoia later this year,’ said Apple SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi. The features will only be available on iPhone Pro 15 models and devices that use M1 or newer chips.

OpenAI reiterated something similar in its blog post, noting that ‘requests are not stored by OpenAI, and users’ IP addresses are obscured. Users can also choose to connect their ChatGPT account, which means their data preferences will apply under ChatGPT’s policies.’ The latter refers to the optional (as in opt-in) ability to connect the feature with their paid subscription.


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