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Apple WWDC23

Apple Shuns AI Hype, Opts for Machine Learning at WWDC 2023

During the eagerly awaited Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) held on Monday, tech giant Apple carefully sidestepped the artificial intelligence craze, despite its significance in recent technology advancements.

Not once did the presenters utter the term ‘AI‘.

This approach contrasts sharply with the approach of Apple’s key competitors, Microsoft and Google, who have been fervently pushing generative AI into the spotlight.

However, the AI undercurrent was still palpable, hidden under the more precise and subtle term: machine learning.

Machine Learning: Apple’s Secret Sauce

Apple’s inclination towards “machine learning” and “ML” rather than AI emerged as a recurrent theme throughout the WWDC 2023 keynote event.

In a world where ‘AI’ has become an ambiguous term, Apple made a deliberate choice to focus on more specific terminologies and approaches.

The Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, showcased these strategies during the iOS 17 demonstration.

He explained how autocorrect and dictation are powered by on-device machine learning. Federighi elaborated, “The keyboard now leverages a transformer language model, which is state of the art for word prediction, making autocorrect more accurate than ever.”

Apple’s deviation from the mainstream ‘AI’ rhetoric towards more precise concepts continued beyond semantics. The tech giant introduced a transformer model – a powerful neural network architecture with a self-attention mechanism – in iOS 17, allowing for sentence-level autocorrections and personalised suggestions based on users’ writing style.

A Matter of Perception

The company’s decision to avoid the term ‘AI’ seems a deliberate act of dissociation, reflecting broader industry concerns.

The ubiquitous use of AI as a marketing term has blurred its meaning and led to confusion about the product’s nature. Increasingly, AI is seen in a negative light, linked to issues such as data misuse and privacy concerns.

Apple’s choice could be interpreted as a bid to differentiate itself and stay true to its focus on user privacy.

As noted in the announcement of the new Journal app and the unveiling of the Apple Vision Pro, Apple emphasised that machine learning processes occur on the user’s device, ensuring personal data remains secure and private.

Apple’s careful tiptoeing around AI at the WWDC was not due to a lack of AI-based features. In fact, many of the presented features, such as automated transcriptions of voice notes, voice dictation, and environmental sound recognition in AirPods, could be AI-driven.

However, Apple opted for a different narrative.

Apple’s decision to avoid ‘AI’ and ‘metaverse’ in its presentation demonstrates a careful, strategic move away from industry buzzwords and towards a more nuanced discussion of technology.

This reflects Apple’s classic tendency to carve its own path and avoid adopting industry buzzwords.

Rebecca Taylor

Rebecca is our AI news writer. A graduate of Leeds University with an International Journalism MA, she possesses a keen eye for the latest AI developments. Rebecca’s passion for AI, and with her journalistic expertise, brings insightful news stories for our readers.

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