The New Yorker:

The iPhone maker’s introduction of Apple Intelligence marks a step into a new technological era—call it the domestication of generative A.I.

By Kyle Chayka

Last week, Apple held its Worldwide Developers Conference, the annual event that is often used to showcase the company’s most significant innovations. Much of the presentation this year was devoted to A.I., or, as the company is branding it, Apple Intelligence. Whereas Google and Microsoft have leaped headlong into A.I. with their Gemini and OpenAI products, respectively, Apple is so far taking a narrower approach. The A.I. model it is unveiling on iPhone hardware is relatively weak. A.I. models are measured on their number of “parameters,” or the variables adjusted during the training process; while OpenAI’s GPT-4 has more than one and a half trillion parameters, Apple’s model has three billion. For queries that require more horsepower, users will be offered the option to outsource a task via the cloud to ChatGPT, via a corporate licensing deal that is reportedly not in exchange for a fee but for exposure for OpenAI. In other words, there’s no Apple-made superintelligent thinking machine—at least not yet.

Accordingly, the reaction to the conference presentation has been somewhat muted. In New York magazine, John Herrman wrote that it represented “a cautious approach by Apple,” and speculated that the company might be wary of overinvesting in a technology that isn’t quite as far along as it is often marketed to be. In the Washington Post, Josh Tyrangiel described Apple Intelligence as “the first rational theory of AI for the masses,” praising the applications’ limited scope and the partnership between the veteran computing company and the upstart OpenAI. I suppose we should be celebrating the fact that Apple hasn’t entered the A.I. arms race full throttle. Google’s rush to keep pace with Microsoft’s A.I. developments has already resulted in the accelerated decay of Google Search tools. But I had a less sanguine reaction to the W.W.D.C. Apple Intelligence, a small model that could eventually be nestled on more than a billion iPhones around the world, crosses a kind of Rubicon: A.I. is entering our personal lives, and once it’s there it’s not likely to retreat.

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