How Apple Fell Behind in the AI Arms Race

How Apple Fell Behind in the AI Arms Race

Apple AAPL 0.78% increase; green up pointing triangle earlier this decade of a revamped Siri offered a showcase of the amazing capabilities a powerful AI voice assistant could have.

  • Winning the AI race has long been a goal of Apple’s. 
  • The company brought in Google’s AI chief John Giannandrea to lead their AI efforts back in 2018.
  • But cultural clashes and insufficient computing resources set Apple’s ambitions back.

As Per The Wall Street AI Report

After years of playing it cautious with broad artificial intelligence, Apple will announce new features next week.

The Cupertino-based tech behemoth sought to dominate the area when it hired Google’s AI leader, John Giannandrea, in 2018.

Giannandrea’s team, on the other hand, brought little to the table due to cultural differences and a lack of computing resources, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing sources.

According to the source – Giannandrea was hired to oversee the iPhone maker’s AI strategy and develop the company’s digital assistant, Siri.
Before joining Apple the Scottish software engineer worked at Google for eight years leading the company’s machine intelligence, research, and search teams.

However, Giannandrea’s team, which was mostly composed of ex-Googlers and professionals from Apple’s startup acquisitions, had a difficult time integrating in with the rest of the Company.

Cultural disputes exacerbated internal tensions.

Despite Apple’s emphasis on defining and fulfilling tight deadlines, Giannandrea’s staff tended to follow Google’s strategy of having loosely defined deadlines. According to Wall Street, the culture conflict made it impossible for other Apple engineers to collaborate with Giannandrea’s team.

In fact, some teams ignored Giannandrea totally and moved forward with their own AI programs.

Former Apple employees told The Journal that Craig Federighi, the company’s software head, pushed his team to create their own AI capabilities for picture and video identification.

Insufficient AI chips limited Apple’s efforts

It didn’t help that Apple didn’t purchase enough AI processors.

The chips, which are highly sought after by technology companies looking to establish themselves in the industry, are essential for training AI models.

According to The Journal, Apple’s AI efforts were hampered by a lack of computer resources, prompting Giannandrea’s team to train their models on other cloud providers such as Google.

Apple representatives did not immediately react to BI’s request for comment issued outside of regular business hours.

Apple’s AI woes highlight the enormous obstacles that digital behemoths face in attempting to establish themselves as industry leaders.

For starters, outstanding AI talent is scarce and difficult to come by. This has transformed recruitment into a zero-sum game, with tech titans shamelessly stealing employees from one another with exorbitant pay packages.

The Information reported in March that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg was using personal emails to recruit AI researchers from Google’s DeepMind.

Even if money isn’t an impediment, tech businesses must deal with chronic supply constraints for AI processors manufactured by chip titans such as Nvidia.

The wild drive for chips has been a big windfall for Nvidia’s stock price, which has increased by more than 3,300% over the last five years.

On Wednesday, Nvidia’s market value surpassed $3 trillion, propelling it past Apple to become the world’s second most valuable business.

For the time being, it appears like Apple will attempt to win the AI race using a different strategy: working with Sam Altman’s OpenAI.

According to Bloomberg, Apple plans to unveil its relationship with the ChatGPT company during its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June. The business is also anticipated to reveal its AI solutions, which may include a revamp of Siri.

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Christoph Soeder/Getty Images; Josh Edelson/Getty; Mohd Rasfan/Getty

9 AI hacks that Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, Jensen Huang, and other business leaders

  • Business leaders are using AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT as the sector booms. 
  • Some have tried AI on the job, while others have played with it to write raps and translate poetry.
  • Here’s how nine executives from companies like Meta, Google, and Microsoft deploy the technology.

Ever since OpenAI launched ChatGPT in November 2023, everyone’s been talking about — and trying out — the hot new tech in their personal and professional lives.

That includes some of the world’s most influential business leaders.

Many companies aside from OpenAI have released generative AI products with human-like capabilities to cash in on the hype. Users have been turning to the technology to save time and reach their goals.

Some workers have used ChatGPT to generate lesson plans, produce marketing materials, and write legal briefs. Others have turned to chatbots to help them lose weight, do homework, and plan vacations. Some even claimed they made money with AI.

And interest has also permeated the C-suite, with leaders just as keen to make the technology work for them. From translating poetry to creating rap songs, here’s how executives from Meta, Google, Microsoft, and other major companies have personally used AI.

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Nvidia’s Jensen Huang said he uses Perplexity AI “almost every day.”

The CEO of the chip company that makes highly coveted GPUs to power AI models uses the AI-powered question-and-answer search engine for research, he told Wired in February this year.

In the interview, he gave an example of how Perplexity can be used to learn about recent advancements in computer-aided drug discovery.

“You want to frame the overall topic so that you could have a framework,” Huang told Wired. “From that framework, you could ask more and more specific questions.”

“I really love that about these large language models,” he said.

The CEO said he uses OpenAI’s ChatGPT as well.

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AMD CEO Lisa Su said she uses Microsoft’s Copilot to “summarize meetings” and “track actions.”©AMD

Still, Su doesn’t think Microsoft’s AI assistant is perfect.

“It doesn’t write my emails so well,” the CEO of Nvidia competitor AMD said during her SXSW keynote in March 2024. “I don’t use it for that.”

Microsoft has integrated Copilot into its suite of office products, including PowerPoint, Word, and Excel.

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said his favorite way to use ChatGPT is to explain German philosophy and Persian poetry.©Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Nadella said ChatGPT helps him comprehend complicated texts from philosophers like Martin Heidegger.

“I remember my father trying to read Heidegger in his forties and struggling with it, and I have attempted it a thousand times and failed,” the CEO said on a June 2023 episode of Freakonomics Radio. “But I must say going and asking ChatGPT or Bing chat to summarize Heidegger is the best way to read Heidegger.”

He was also impressed by the AI chatbot’s ability to translate poetry. He said his favorite prompt is asking ChatGPT to translate Rumi from Urdu into English.

“The most interesting thing about it is that it captures the depth of poetry,” Nadella said on the podcast. “It somehow finds, in that latent space, meaning that’s beyond just the words and the translation. That I find is just phenomenal.”

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Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla said he used ChatGPT to write a rap for his daughter’s wedding.

“I wrote what I wanted to say to her as a speech, entered it into ChatGPT, said, ‘Do rap lyrics for it,’ it did, and then entered it into a music AI,” the OpenAI investor posted on X, formerly Twitter, in October 2023.

“So I was able to blare it over the speakers, a personal rap song from me,” Khosla added. “It extended my capability. It meant a lot to me.”

He’s the founder of Khosla Ventures, a VC investing in startups in AI, clean technology, and biomedicine, among other sectors.

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CEO and cofounder of OpenAI Sam Altman said he uses his company’s chatbot for translation and writing.

In August 2023, Altman told Bloomberg that ChatGPT was a “life saver” for translation purposes during his world tour, where he discussed the future of AI. Over three months, he visited countries like Israel, Jordan, Qatar, the UAE, India, and South Korea.

The face behind ChatGPT said his creation helps him “write faster” and “think more.”

“I see the path towards, like, this being my super assistant for all of my cognitive work,” he told Bloomberg.

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©Christoph Soeder/picture alliance via Getty Images

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, said he used a language model to talk to the planet Pluto with his son.

In an episode of the New York Times’ tech podcast “Hard Fork,” Pichai said he asked LaMDA, one of the search giant’s early conversational AI models, to pretend it was the planet Pluto to test its capabilities.

During one conversation, LaMDA told Pichai and his son that Pluto is “really lonely” because it’s so far out in space.

“I felt sad at that point talking to it,” the CEO said on the March 2023 episode of the podcast.

He also asked LaMDA what he should do for his father’s 80th birthday. In response, the model suggested that he make a scrapbook.

“It’s not that it’s profound, but it says things and kind of sparks the imagination,” he told the NYT when describing the prompt.

Google unveiled Gemini, its latest language model that could generate text and photos using prompts, in December 2023.

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©Scott Morgan/Reuters

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said he used ChatGPT to translate the Frank Sinatra song ‘My Way’ into Spanish.

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©picture alliance/Getty Images

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, said he uses ChatGPT in his personal life.

Cook didn’t specify how he uses the AI chatbot. He did, however, say that he sees its potential after trying it out.

“I’m excited about it,” he told CNBC in a June 2023 interview. “I think there’s some unique applications for it and you can bet that it’s something that we’re looking at closely.”

Apple appears to be lagging behind some other Big Tech players on the AI front. The iPhone maker is expected to discuss its AI projects during its June developer conference.

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©Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg built a personal AI assistant called “Jarvis” to manage different parts of his home.

Back in 2016, Jarvis controlled Zuckerberg’s house’s lights, appliances, temperature, music, and security systems, Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post. The CEO also said the AI assistant interacted with his phone and computer and could learn new words and concepts.

Meta rolled out Llama-2, its large language model equivalent to OpenAI’s GPT, in July 2023 to select users. Since then, the company has released AI-powered Ray-Ban Smart Glasses and AI chatbots with celebrity personas. Llama-3, its most advanced model, is still in the works.


Business Insider and Wsj.com

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