Elon Musk Threatens to Ban Apple Devices in His Companies Due to ChatGPT Integration


Elon Musk is threatening to ban iPhones from all his companies over the newly announced OpenAI integrations Apple revealed at WWDC 2024. In a series of posts on X, the Tesla, SpaceX, and xAI executive stated that “if Apple integrates OpenAI at the OS level,” Apple devices would be prohibited at his businesses, and visitors would need to check their Apple devices at the door to be “stored in a Faraday cage.”

Musk’s posts appear to misunderstand or attempt to sow doubt about user privacy regarding the relationship Apple announced with OpenAI. While both companies indicated that users must grant permission before any questions, documents, or photos are sent to ChatGPT, Musk’s comments suggest he believes OpenAI is deeply embedded in Apple’s operating system and capable of accessing personal and private data.

In iOS 18, Apple explained that users can ask Siri questions, and if Siri deems ChatGPT capable of providing a better response, it will request user permission to share the query and present the answer directly. This feature allows users to receive answers from ChatGPT without opening the ChatGPT iOS app. The same protocol applies to sharing photos, PDFs, or other documents with ChatGPT.

However, Musk prefers that OpenAI’s functionalities remain within a standalone app rather than be integrated with Siri.

Responding to VC and CTO Sam Pullara of Sutter Hill Ventures, who noted that the user approves each request individually and that OpenAI doesn’t have access to the entire device, Musk wrote, “Then leave it as an app. This is bullshit.”

Pullara had mentioned that the integration of ChatGPT essentially mirrors how the ChatGPT app currently functions. The on-device AI models are either Apple’s own or those utilizing Apple’s Private Cloud.

Meanwhile, replying to a YouTube post by Marques Brownlee explaining Apple Intelligence, Musk commented, “Apple using the words ‘protect your privacy’ while handing your data over to a third-party AI they don’t understand and can’t create themselves 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 his companies if Cook 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 his 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 added. While it’s true that Apple might not fully comprehend the inner workings of OpenAI, it seems that users, not Apple, are the ones deciding to share their data.

Apple also announced an additional integration enabling users to access ChatGPT across the system via a “compose” feature within Writing Tools. For example, users could ask ChatGPT to write a bedtime story or generate images in various styles to complement their writing. These features will allow users to access ChatGPT for free without creating an account, which bodes well for OpenAI due to the expected influx of requests from Apple users.

Apple users might not fully grasp the privacy nuances here, which Musk is exploiting with his complaints. If users could set their preferred AI bot for Siri requests or writing assistance, such as Anthropic’s Claude or Musk’s xAI’s Grok, Musk likely wouldn’t be as vociferous about the dangers of such an integration. (Apple hinted that Google Gemini could be integrated in the future during a post-keynote session.)

In its announcement, Apple emphasized that user requests and information are not logged, but ChatGPT subscribers can connect their accounts to 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 be available only on iPhone Pro 15 models and devices with M1 or newer chips.

OpenAI echoed similar sentiments in a 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.” This refers to the optional ability to connect with their paid subscription.

Sarah Perez
Sarah Perez
Staff writer. Previously, Sarah worked for over three years at ReadWriteWeb, a technology news publication. Before working as a reporter, Perez worked in I.T. across a number of industries, including banking, retail and software.

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