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Unveiling New Frontiers in the World of Generative Technology: Apple’s AI Pursuits

by Rahil M
0 comment

Apple’s AI product, Siri, once held the limelight in the world of technology and it has now stagnated in recent years.

Apple Inc. has been making remarkable strides in the realm of AI, developing tools that have the potential to rival those created by industry giants like OpenAI Inc. and Google’s Alphabet Inc. Despite significant progress, the tech giant has yet to finalize its strategy for publicizing and releasing these groundbreaking AI advancements, keeping its initiatives veiled in a shroud of secrecy.

Behind the curtains, Apple has been diligently constructing its framework for generating large language models, the foundational technology behind cutting-edge AI applications such as ChatGPT and Google’s Bard. This internal framework, dubbed “Ajax”, is the backbone for Apple’s in-house chatbot service, which is informally referred to as “Apple GPT.”

Over the past few months, Apple’s commitment to AI has intensified, with multiple teams collaboratively working on the project. Privacy concerns regarding AI have been at the forefront of their efforts, aiming to address any potential issues proactively.

News of Apple’s dedicated efforts in the AI domain has significantly impacted the company’s shares, soaring as much as 2.3% to a record high of $198.23. In contrast, Microsoft Corp., OpenAI’s primary backer, experienced a minor 1% dip following the revelation.

While Apple has embedded AI features in its products for years, it now faces the challenge of catching up with the rapidly evolving generative AI market. Recent groundbreaking offerings like ChatGPT, Google Bard, and Microsoft’s Bing AI have captured the imagination of both consumers and businesses, driving a surge of interest and demands for AI-based technologies.

Although Apple’s AI product, Siri, once held the limelight, it has stagnated in recent years, lagging behind competitors. Nonetheless, Apple has been making notable strides in other AI applications, including improvements to photos and search on iPhones, and plans for a smarter version of auto-correct coming to mobile devices later this year.

Publicly, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has been cautious about the deluge of new AI services entering the market. He acknowledged the technology’s potential but emphasized the need to address a range of issues before widespread adoption. Cook asserted that AI will be thoughtfully integrated into more Apple products but with careful consideration and attention to user privacy.

In a Good Morning America interview, Cook disclosed his personal use of ChatGPT and revealed that the company is closely monitoring the technology’s developments.

Behind the scenes, Apple is well aware of the critical importance of AI in shaping the future of technology. Generative AI has the potential to revolutionize how people interact with their devices and Apple’s extensive product ecosystem, generating nearly $320 billion in revenue during the last fiscal year, could be significantly impacted if it fails to keep up with AI advancements.

This realization has driven Apple to build its proprietary framework, Ajax, which forms the basis for its AI services and supports the development of large language models. Already, Ajax has been deployed to enhance search, Siri, and maps within Apple’s product portfolio. Furthermore, it serves as the foundation for the internal ChatGPT-like tool, aiding product prototyping and text summarization.

Apple’s chatbot app was developed as an experimental project by a small engineering team towards the end of last year. Initially, its rollout was temporarily halted due to security concerns associated with generative AI. However, access has been gradually extended to more employees, albeit with special approval required. Importantly, any output from the chatbot cannot be used to develop features intended for consumers.

Nonetheless, the employees are utilizing the tool to assist with product prototyping and text summarization. The company’s in-house chatbot essentially mirrors the capabilities of Bard, ChatGPT, and Bing AI, offering employees a stripped-down, internal web application for various experimental purposes.

While Apple remains cautious about public release, it is not alone in its approach. Other tech companies, including Samsung Electronics Co., have also developed their own internal ChatGPT-like tools to address data privacy concerns.

Going beyond technology development, the organization is now actively exploring avenues to integrate generative AI into its consumer-facing products. This initiative involves collaborative efforts across Apple’s AI and software engineering groups, along with its cloud services engineering team, which would provide the necessary infrastructure for potential new AI features. Although concrete plans are yet to be unveiled, insiders believe that Apple is gearing up for a significant AI-related announcement in the near future.

Driving this AI endeavor are key figures such as John Giannandrea, Apple’s head of machine learning and AI, and Craig Federighi, the company’s top software engineering executive. However, differing perspectives within Apple’s leadership team have led to a lack of a unified front in approaching AI development. Giannandrea has advocated for a more conservative approach, keen on monitoring recent developments in the AI landscape.

Parallel to its internal AI initiatives, Apple has also explored third-party AI technologies through a corporate trial of OpenAI’s offerings. Additionally, the company considered a larger contract with OpenAI, which licenses its services to Microsoft, Shutterstock Inc., and Salesforce Inc.

Apple’s Ajax system is built atop Google Jax, Google’s machine learning framework, and runs on Google Cloud alongside Apple’s own infrastructure and Amazon.com Inc.’s AWS.

As part of its ongoing AI efforts, Apple is actively recruiting experts in generative AI. The company’s job listings include roles focused on applying this technology to communication, content creation, and media consumption across iPhones and other devices.

One potentially transformative integration for Apple’s large language models could be with Siri, empowering the voice assistant to conduct more complex tasks on behalf of users. Despite being an early entrant into the voice assistant space, Siri lost ground to competitors as Apple prioritized other areas and adopted fewer features to prioritize user privacy.

Apple’s advancements in AI technology, particularly the development of its own framework and chatbot service, have the potential to reshape the landscape of generative AI. While the company has yet to formalize its strategy for public release, its progress signals it’s intention to stay at the forefront of technological innovation. As the world eagerly awaits any official announcements, the AI-driven future envisioned by Apple remains a captivating prospect.

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