Are Security Concerns Around Apple’s AI Announcements Justified?

Apple Intelligence Features

Artificial intelligence (AI) dominated the first day of the 2024 WWDC, and Apple announced several updates. Siri will be receiving an overhaul, which also includes ChatGPT integration. Apple Intelligence will also appear in several apps, including Notes, and you’ll get AI notification summaries. However, many of these features won’t come until 2025. 

But while some people are excited about the upcoming changes this fall, not everyone’s impressed. Some users have been particularly vocal about Apple’s partnership with OpenAI, and while Apple went into significant detail about its security features, some may still need time to be convinced. 

Let’s now look at whether the security concerns related to Apple’s venture into AI are justified. 

What Have People Said About Apple’s AI Announcements?

Elon Musk, owner of Tesla and SpaceX, has been the most vocal critic of Apple’s WWDC 2024 announcements. Musk posted on X that he would ban all Apple products at his companies if Apple went ahead with its ChatGPT integration, calling the move “an unacceptable security violation”. 

Musk also went further just minutes later, accusing Apple of having “no clue what’s going on when they hand your data over to OpenAI”. 

Musk already had a lawsuit against OpenAI at the time of these posts, but he has since dropped this – as reported by CNN

OpenAI has received criticism from several past and current employees. As published by the New York Times, some employees said that the company had a “culture of recklessness”. 

Are These Worries Justified? 

There is a point to be made that most of the general public doesn’t understand how AI platforms use their data, and it’s still a new world that even those in the tech space are trying to navigate. Apple has gone into significant detail about its privacy intentions to address these worries. 

Speaking on the matter, Craig Federighi – Senior Vice President of Software Engineering at Apple – has said the following statements:

“Private Cloud Compute allows Apple Intelligence to process complex user requests with groundbreaking privacy.”

“We’ve extended iPhone’s industry-leading security to the cloud, with what we believe is the most advanced security architecture ever deployed for cloud AI at scale. 

“Private Cloud Compute uses your data only to fulfill your request, and never stores it, making sure it’s never accessible to anyone, including Apple. And we’ve designed the system so that independent experts can verify these protections.”

It’s also worth looking at the specifics of Apple’s AI announcements and user data. Before using ChatGPT on Apple devices, users will have to confirm that they want to access the feature. Moreover, Apple said at WWDC 2024 that OpenAI won’t keep user requests on ChatGPT. From this angle, the overall picture looks somewhat less concerning. 

It Might Take People Some Time to Come Around to These Changes

apple openai chatgpt deal

Despite Apple and OpenAI’s privacy announcements, it will be difficult to convince everyone that their data will be safe. In 2023, A cybersecurity researcher in Poland filed a lawsuit against OpenAI. The researcher created a bio of himself with ChatGPT that had several errors, but his Subject Access Request was declined. 

The claim against OpenAI said: 

“From the facts of the case, it appears that OpenAI systemically ignores the provisions of the GDPR regarding the processing of data for the purposes of training models within ChatGPT, a result of which, among other things, was that Mr Lukasz Olejnik was not properly informed about the processing of his personal data. 

OpenAI has also been sued by several companies, including the New York Times, for perceived copyright breaches. 

General AI skeptics will also probably dislike the increased amount of AI coming to iOS, macOS, and iPadOS this fall. While I think that many of these worries are overblown, they are still legitimate to an extent. The onus is on Apple and its partners to provide a clear security track record if they want to convince everyone, and it’ll also probably take further public education about AI until everyone warms to this idea.

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