Jun 10, 2024 - Technology

Musk threatens to ban employees from using iPhones

Photo illustration of Elon Musk stylized as a comic book character

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Patrick Pleul/Pool via Getty Images

Elon Musk threatened to ban his employees from using Apple products after Apple announced that iPhone users would be able to ask ChatGPT questions through Siri, Apple's voice assistant.

Why it matters: Musk makes a lot of promises and threats and often fails to follow through on them — but as one of the world's wealthiest people, he has the power to act on his whims when he wants to.

Driving the news: "If Apple integrates OpenAI at the OS level, then Apple devices will be banned at my companies. That is an unacceptable security violation," Musk posted on X Monday evening after Apple's announcements.

  • It's not clear exactly what Musk means by "integrates...at the OS level," or whether Apple's description of how it plans to use ChatGPT in iOS would match most software developers' definition of that kind of integration.
  • Apple touted the privacy and security protections of the AI services it will provide itself, and showed off a prominent dialog box that will ask users whether they want a query to be forwarded to ChatGPT.

Catch up quick: Musk has long been feuding with the iPhone maker. The latest bout kicked off last year when Apple "paused" advertising on Musk-owned X after Musk endorsed an antisemitic post.

The big picture: Musk has his own dog in the AI fight. He has raised $6 billion for his own AI company, xAI, to compete with OpenAI, Apple and every other AI provider.

Between the lines: Tesla promises to protect its customers from being tracked or having their data sold or shared.

  • But Reuters reported last year that Tesla employees have spied on customers using the cars' many cameras.
  • Musk biographer Walter Isaacson wrote that Musk wanted to use cameras inside the cars to collect evidence to protect Tesla from lawsuits.

The bottom line: For better or worse, most of Big Tech's customers have tended to prioritize convenience over privacy in the past, and today millions of people use ChatGPT.

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