Tech

Apple AI Focuses on Speed, Privacy with 3B-Param Model

Apple's AI models, with 3 billion parameters, focus on privacy and device integration, unlike competitors' cloud-based solutions.

By Athena Xu

6/11, 09:09 EDT
Apple Inc.
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Key Takeaway

  • Apple introduces Apple Intelligence, focusing on device-integrated AI with smaller models like a 3-billion parameter model, emphasizing speed and privacy.
  • Unlike competitors, Apple's AI prioritizes user privacy by operating on-device and using Apple Private Cloud to avoid storing user data.
  • Integration with OpenAI's ChatGPT for complex tasks highlights Apple's balanced approach between its own models and leveraging external AI capabilities.

Apple Intelligence Unveiled

Apple has officially entered the artificial intelligence (AI) arena with the introduction of Apple Intelligence, a new AI software suite. During the WWDC launch event, Apple executives, including software chief Craig Federighi and AI chief John Giannandrea, emphasized a distinct approach to AI compared to industry leaders like Microsoft and Google. Apple’s strategy focuses on integrating AI into its own devices and leveraging personal data, rather than developing broad, cloud-based AI models.

Federighi stated, “We think AI’s role is not to replace our users but to empower them.” Apple’s AI is designed to perform small tasks efficiently without draining battery life. The company’s AI models are smaller and run directly on Apple devices, with cloud-based assistance only when necessary. For instance, Apple has partnered with OpenAI to provide access to ChatGPT when Siri cannot answer a query. Giannandrea explained, “We think that the right approach to this is to have a series of different models and different sizes for different use cases.”

Apple’s AI models, such as a 3-billion parameter model, are significantly smaller than competitors like OpenAI’s GPT-3, which has 175 billion parameters. This approach aims to balance speed and privacy, although it may face limitations in handling complex tasks. Apple’s AI can perform functions like summarizing documents, generating images, and translating conversations in real-time. A notable feature includes generating new emojis using AI without internet connectivity. These features will be available in a beta version this fall.

Privacy-Centric AI Approach

Apple has long marketed itself as a privacy-focused company, and this ethos extends to its AI initiatives. Unlike other AI companies that collect and store user data to improve their software, Apple emphasizes that its AI will operate with user privacy in mind. Giannandrea stated, “We’re not going to take that data and go send it to some cloud somewhere.” Apple has developed its own servers, called Apple Private Cloud, to ensure that user data sent to AI servers is not stored or reused. The company will also allow third parties to inspect its AI server software, a notable move for a company known for its secrecy.

Apple’s AI models are trained using publicly available data and licensed content, such as news archives and stock photography. The company’s privacy measures aim to prevent the impression that it is collecting user data for AI training. Federighi explained, “Even if a company maybe makes a promise and says, ‘Well, hey, look, we’re not going to do anything with the data.’ You have no way to verify that.”

Expanding AI Capabilities

Apple’s AI strategy is not limited to its own models. The company will integrate OpenAI’s ChatGPT into its operating systems, allowing users to access more powerful AI models for complex tasks. This integration will be clearly marked, informing users that their data will be sent to OpenAI servers. Federighi hinted at future collaborations, stating, “We’re going to look forward to doing integrations with models like Google Gemini, for instance, in the future.”

Despite focusing on its own solutions, Apple acknowledges the capabilities of other AI models. Gene Munster of Deepwater Asset Management noted, “There is a ‘light year gap’ between their model’s capabilities and OpenAI’s, and they are not going to play that piece up.” Apple’s AI features, such as custom-generated emojis, smart photo editing, and a more contextual Siri, are designed to enhance user experience incrementally. These features will run on Apple’s latest devices, including the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, powered by the A17 Pro chip, and laptops and tablets with the M series of chips.

Management Quotes

  • Craig Federighi, Software Chief of Apple:

    "We think AI’s role is not to replace our users but to empower them."
    "There’s a critical extra step, which is we’re not taking this teenager and telling him to go fly an airplane."
    "It’s only recently that others are starting to suddenly claim like there’s some new category there. But those are things we’ve been shipping for a long time."
    "We’re going to look forward to doing integrations with models like Google Gemini, for instance, in the future. I mean, nothing to announce right now. But that’s our direction."

  • John Giannandrea, AI Chief of Apple:

    "We think that the right approach to this is to have a series of different models and different sizes for different use cases."
    "We’re not going to take that data and go send it to some cloud somewhere. Because we want everything to be very private, whether it’s running locally or on a cloud computing service, and that’s the way we want it so we can use your most personal data."