Apple Bans ChatGPT for Employees, As It Launches iOS App

Apple joins the rapidly growing list of organizations banning the use of ChatGPT, on the day the chatbot comes to iOS.

The furor around ChatGPT and other productive AI platforms shows no signs of stopping, and consumer tech giant Apple is the latest to ban its employees – including developers – from using ChatGPT for work purposes.

The Wall Street Journal has seen and verified a document from Apple detailing the embargo, according to reporting on the news outlet’s site, as well as hearing from those ‘familiar with the matter’.

Whether it’s ironic or just an uncomfortable coincidence, though, Apple has decided to put generative AI tools on its ‘no-fly list’ on the very same day that OpenAI announced the launch of ChatGPT for iOS.

Why has Apple Banned Employees from Using ChatGPT?

Like many of the other firms on the “no using AI for work” list, such as JP Morgan Chase, Verizon, Accenture and Samsung, Apple has stated its chief concern is that employees will unwittingly share confidential data with the AI service.

That may sound a bit obvious – clearly, to create code, developers would have to enter details of the project they’re working on.

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But it’s not that aspect that has Apple bosses worried. The main concern is the other function of ChatGPT: any data input into the platform can be sent back to Open AI developers, which helps improve the function and performance.

That’s how Large Language Models (LLM), such as ChatGPT, and Google’s BERT, LaMDA and PALM work – the more data that’s input, the better it “learns” and the better it can hone what it produces. Just as with humans (who, of course, are LLM’s designers and developers), the more specifics we have, the better we can solve a problem.

And here’s the kicker: Apple is reportedly developing its own AI platform/LLM, which may be another reason why Tim Cook & co have limited employees’ use of this new technology.

One does also wonder: is Apple’s lack of AI products and development a bit of a sore spot for the Cupertino, California-based company? As many have pointed out, the firm was first on the consumer AI product offering with voice-activated Siri, but has since not produced anything of note in the AI arena.

ChatGPT vs Bard – see how the two tools did when we pitted them against each other.

ChatGPT for iOS – But Not if You Work for Apple

As mentioned above, it’s pretty awkward timing that Apple has taken these steps on the very day that OpenAI has launched its platform for Apple’s dedicated operating system.

The new app is free and operates the standard IoT syncing across devices. It also comes with Whisper, ChatGPT’s voice-to-text technology, already imbedded.

The rollout is just Stateside for now, but OpenAI promises other countries soon. The company also said in its release that the Android app is in development.

This comes on the cusp of the company – also based in Northern California (perhaps Apple and OpenAI employees meet for after-work drinks?) announcing that the fourth iteration of its model, ChatGPT4, is imminent.

WSJ also reports that Apple’s Tim Cook made positive sounds about LLMs in general on the company’s quarterly earnings call, saying: ‘I do think it’s very important to be deliberate and thoughtful in how you approach these things.

‘And there’s a number of issues that need to be sorted as is being talked about in a number of different places, but the potential is certainly very interesting.’

Company sensitivity around using AI tools will continue to be a concern, and Apple is not alone in its concerns. However, if you’re an iOS user, based in the US, and aren’t as worried about your information as Apple, you can start using ChatGPT on your Apple device right now.

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Written by:
Originally from Los Angeles, Sarah has lived and worked in four countries, and now calls sunny Manchester (the UK one, not the US one) home. Since her post-grad with the NCTJ in Journalism she's written for national and trade titles across the world, covering everything from construction and hospitality to tech and travel. Her special interest areas are AI and automation, cybersecurity, quantum computing and cats.
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