Of course, Apple is working on its own generative AI, Large Language Model (LLM) and possible ChatGPT rival called, naturally, AppleGPT. Of course, the news is based on a Bloomberg report and Apple is predictable on the subject but, seriously, how could the Cupertino tech giant not work on your own AI?
According to the Bloomberg report, Apple bases its top-secret project on a learning framework known as Ajax, from a rival and sometimes a friend Google.
The effort to build a kind of chatbot and maybe other generative AI systems have been in the works since late last year but, as someone who attended Apple WWDC 2023 can tell you that Apple made no mention of chatbots of any kind at the June developer conference.
Applethe hyper-emphasis on user privacy has, as I see ithas somewhat crippled its efforts to bring any type of LLM-based chatbot to consumers. ChatGPT, Bard GoogleAnd Microsoft Bing are all connected to the cloud and send requests to remote servers for rapid interpretation and response (based on the LLM’s vast knowledge of how real humans might react under similar circumstances).
This is of course not the Apple method. Its Apple Silicon A16 Bionic neural network is local. It does machine learning on your best iphone. Sending requests with all these possibly personal details is against Apple’s privacy principles.
And yet, Apple clearly cannot afford to stay away from the siren call of generative AI. It is a revolution that is devouring the tech industry and the interests of average consumers and businesses. Even with the meticulous examination AI development is ongoing and the trials some of them are facingno one believes that AI development will suddenly stop or disappear.
Apple even went so far as, according to Bloomberg, to create its own chatbot, or AppleGPT. But it’s basically a very limited, internal test and apparently not one that’s ever made its way to consumer desktops.
Where does Siri fit into all of this?
Bloomberg claims Ajax’s work has already been used to improve Siri. It might be, but the only Siri improvement we get with iOS17 (currently in public beta) is the ability to stop starting every voice assistant prompt with “Hey”.
I have no doubt that Apple is working hard to find its place in the LLM AI sphere, but it is also clear from the report that these are the early days. There’s no overall strategy, and I doubt the existential question of whether Siri could ever host AppleGPT (or whatever it’s called) has been answered.
Ultimately, it’s confirmation that Apple is just as aware of what’s going on around it and with its competitors as ever. It will sample and test, expand and test, delete and expand, and then test some more. I don’t expect Apple to tell us anything about this at the planned September launch of the iPhone 15. However, at the time WWDC 2024 is approaching, Apple might be ready to unveil a new platform. It might be AppleGPT-kit, AppleLLM-Kit or even AppleGPT.
This assumes that Apple can resolve its big privacy issue. Otherwise, AppleGPT could remain in Skunkworks indefinitely.