Hey Elon, go ahead and ban Apple devices


Yesterday, following Apple’s announcement of a partnership with OpenAI to integrate support for ChatGPT into the company’s devices, Elon Musk did what he always does: he tweeted. The owner of X wrote, on X, that he would ban Apple devices at his companies “If Apple integrates OpenAI at the OS level.”. And to that I say: Go right ahead. And while you’re at it, remove your company’s software from Apple’s App Store too.

Musk’s companies (at least the major ones) currently include Tesla, SpaceX, X, X AI and Neuralink. Even if we’re just talking about phones — which according to Counterpoint Research Apple currently has a 52 percent market share in the US — around 80,000 of Musk’s 155,000 employees would be subject to the ban, if general statistics hold true. And that’s not counting anyone who uses a Mac computer or iPad. (Note: The lion’s share of these workers would be at Tesla, which employs around 140,000 people.)

Now as we’ve seen with staff reductions at X and Tesla, Musk’s management style might best be described as “willing to shoot himself in the foot.” But subjecting more than half of his staff to a ban covering one of the most popular gadget makers in the world seems especially obtuse. Yes, all of this would be a headache (especially for the poor souls on his IT teams). But what’s truly at issue is that, if Elon truly cares about security, he’s only proposing a half-measure.

Why stop at just banning Apple devices? Surely, the apps his companies makes for iOS are in jeopardy as well. So why not pull the apps for X, Tesla and all the others from Apple’s App Store? That would offer even more insulation against the threat of OpenAI, would it not?

Some of the stronger students here, I’m sure, have had their hands raised by now. “But if the problem is that ChatGPT is integrated at the OS level, shouldn’t that also mean Musk’s companies would be barred from using Windows?” How right you are. And as a man of conviction, I fully expect Elon will ban those machines from his workplaces as well. I suspect his engineers will have a relatively painless time calculating the trajectory of spaceships into orbit on a Ti-83.

Musk followed up his statements by saying “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! Apple has no clue what’s actually going on once they hand your data over to OpenAI. They’re selling you down the river.”

To no surprise, that statement does not accurately describe Apple and OpenAI’s partnership, which readers quickly pointed out using X’s additional context feature. (On Musk’s own website no less, oh the ignominy!) Apple says it will have its own AI models that will either run on-device or in a private compute cloud, and will only send data to OpenAI with a user’s explicit permission on a strict opt-in basis. So despite Musk’s claims, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of trickery there.

The bottom line is that, as the founder and CEO of a handful of companies, Musk can do what he wants. And in this case, I encourage Elon to follow through. Show us that your posts aren’t a bluff, as some are already claiming. It’s time to fuck around and find out.

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