Apple is endangering users by linking up with OpenAI

On one level, I don’t blame Elon Musk for popping off on X this afternoon, following Apple’s WWDC 2024 keynote in which the iPhone maker unveiled the specifics of how it will integrate OpenAI’s ChatGPT into iPhones, iPads, and Macs. “If Apple integrates OpenAI at the OS level,” Musk tweeted, “then Apple devices will be banned at my companies. That is an unacceptable security violation.”

He continued with: “And visitors will have to check their Apple devices at the door, where they will be stored in a Faraday cage.”

And Musk still wasn’t done. “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! Apple has no clue what’s actually going on once they hand your data over to OpenAI. They’re selling you down the river.”

Musk certainly has his own reasons for feeling this way, and I don’t blame the people who assume he’s just miffed that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman maintained the control of OpenAI that Musk tried to acquire several years ago.

Having said that: The more Altman speaks, the more he bothers me. And the more I find myself agreeing with Business Insider’s framing — that he’s now squarely in his villain era, the same way that figures like Elizabeth Holmes and Sam Bankman-Fried were once lauded as geniuses before their respective falls from grace.

It’s everything about Altman, really, from the creepy cult of personality around him to his tendency to spout banal aphorisms that sound like they belong on a fortune cookie. And, if I’m honest, I’m also a little turned off by the way everybody and his brother in the upper echelon of Silicon Valley treats this guy like he’s the Messiah, and that his reign is inevitable and inviolable.

That includes figures like Kara Swisher, whose journalistic harangues tend to lump most of the white, privileged ruling class of the Valley together, while conveniently carving out a massive exception for Altman who she’s been friends with since 2005.

Coincidentally, I’ve been listening to and enjoying the latest season of the Bloomberg podcast Foundering, this time all about Altman and OpenAI. One of the themes the show hammers home about Sam “The Most Silicon Valley Man Alive” Altman is not what a great coder or engineer he is. Nor even that he’s some kind of Jobs-ian visionary. Rather, it’s that he has an expert-level ability to speak to power and bend anyone to his will.

The podcast recounts how one startup founder, for example, fell under Altman’s spell while the latter was running Y Combinator and described Altman as “the Michael Jordan of listening,” whatever the hell that means.

As for Musk and his tweets about Apple and OpenAI — obviously, a person can be right for the wrong reasons. Whatever Musk’s reasons are, I’m at least willing to concede that he has a point in this case. That said, I really don’t care what anyone else thinks: Generative AI is in the process of enabling perhaps the most brazen intellectual property heist in the history of mankind, and I remain convinced that the leaders at the vanguard of this movement, including but not limited to Altman, will eventually run out of tricks to convince you otherwise.

The vast majority of people outside of his bubble in California would give anything for the tech industry writ large to get back to making products that help people and make their lives better, an operating philosophy that, today, seems to be the exception rather than the rule. What we got instead was a cult leader cosplaying as a CEO who’s decided that pretty much everyone and everything about the world needs to change in order for him to see his AI dream come true.

News Article Courtesy Of Andy Meek »