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Elon Musk Threatens to Ban Apple Devices at His Companies Citing Privacy Risks with New Apple-ChatGPT Collaboration

Krishi Chowdhary Journalist Author expertise
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  • After Apple announced at its WWDC 2024 event that it’s teaming up with OpenAI, Elon Musk threatened to ban Apple devices from his companies through a series of posts on X.
  • According to Elon, integrating with OpenAI means giving up your data’s security and privacy. He doesn’t believe that Apple is capable of ensuring OpenAI protects its users.
  • However, it seems like Musk’s fears might be a little over the top. Apple isn’t deeply integrating OpenAI’s tools in its devices. Siri will only access ChatGPT if a user explicitly requests it.

Elon Musk Threatens to Ban Apple Devices at His Companies Citing Privacy Risks with New Apple-ChatGPT Collaboration

Elon Musk is unhappy once again, this time with the new collaboration between Apple and OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which was announced at WWDC 2024 on Monday (June 10).

Elon Musk posted a series of tweets on X, stating that if this collaboration goes through, he will ban Apple devices from his companies (he is the owner of Tesla, X (Twitter), and SpaceX). He called it “an unacceptable security violation.”

What’s more, the ban won’t be limited to just office devices, as it will also be applicable to visitors carrying Apple devices. “…visitors will have to check their Apple device at the door where they will be stored in a Faraday cage,” said Elon Musk.

Note: A Faraday Cage is an earthed metal enclosure that’s used to block electromagnetic waves.

Understanding Elon Musk’s Problem with OpenAI

From his tweets, it seems like Elon Musk doesn’t trust OpenAI with user data. In one of his many tweets, he wrote “Apple has no clue what’s actually going on once they hand your data over to OpenAI. They’re selling you down the river.”

Elon Musk then added that it’s “patently absurd” that Apple isn’t capable of creating its own AI, yet it’s bold enough to ensure that OpenAI will protect the data of Apple users.

The most interesting bit here is that Elon Musk is actually one of the co-founders of OpenAI and has been one of its biggest investors.

However, over the last few years, the relationship between Elon Musk and Sam Altman has turned bitter, especially after Musk sued OpenAI for allegedly breaching the company’s original vision and digressing from being a research-focused, non-profit organization.

In response to this, Altman had dismissed these allegations, calling them “fictitious” and “frivolous” and even suggested that Musk might be jealous because he’s no longer a part of OpenAI.

Is There Any Truth to What Elon Musk Is Saying?

At the time of writing, it seems that Musk’s reaction might be a little bit over the top. He seems to have misunderstood the terms of the Apple-OpenAI partnership.

OpenAI (ChatGPT 4.0, to be precise) is not being deeply integrated with Apple devices, as Elon Musk claims. In truth, this is how it’ll actually work:

  • Almost all questions Apple users ask Siri will be processed on-device using Apple’s proprietary models.
  • If certain queries are too complex or outside the expertise level of Apple’s models, that’s when they will be sent outside.
  • However, “outside” doesn’t necessarily have to be ChatGPT. Queries can go to a larger server-based model, which is built on Apple’s custom-made servers using Apple Silicon. This is what Apple calls “private cloud computing.”
  • Only when you ask Siri a question which ChatGPT is better-equipped to answer will your queries go to OpenAI’s models.

It’s well worth noting that users will be asked for their consent before their queries are sent over to ChatGPT—every single time. Here’s what it will look like:

ChatGPT permission on Apple devices

OpenAI added to this and said that privacy protections have been built in to ensure user data is safe.

IP addresses coming from Apple devices (through Siri and Writing Tools) will be hidden and the questions asked by users won’t be stored on OpenAI’s servers. Apple, too, won’t store any of your data, i.e., in case you use its private cloud computing.

While we are yet to see how this collaboration turns out in practice, many industry experts believe that Apple’s approach is privacy-conscious. Most of the data gets processed on the device itself and users will only have to rely on ChatGPT for a selected few topics—and that too only when they grant Siri permission to do so.

Speaking of Elon Musk’s threat of banning Apple devices, only time will tell whether he will follow up his words with actions because it can’t be argued that his track record so far is filled with wild threats and broken promises.

Read more: Elon Musk says AI will take all our jobs in the future.

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Krishi Chowdhary Journalist

Krishi Chowdhary Journalist

Krishi is an eager Tech Journalist and content writer for both B2B and B2C, with a focus on making the process of purchasing software easier for businesses and enhancing their online presence and SEO.

Krishi has a special skill set in writing about technology news, creating educational content on customer relationship management (CRM) software, and recommending project management tools that can help small businesses increase their revenue.

Alongside his writing and blogging work, Krishi's other hobbies include studying the financial markets and cricket.

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