The APPLE of AI's Eye: Musk, OpenAI, and the Tech Tussle Shaping the Future

A tale that plays out more like a tech thriller than real life, it involves titans of industry, hyped technology, and an unexpected new twist involving one of the biggest names in tech: Apple. Its cast of characters includes Google co-founder Sergey Brin, the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, and one of the most influential technologists of the 20th century, Marvin Minsky. The plot includes a technology that’s already in use, but also promises a new kind of machine with the ability to assist people with muscular impairments. Apple’s pivotal role is the surprise twist that both underscores the complexity of AI development and highlights the tech giant’s new enthusiasm for the technology.

The Genesis of the Dispute

It begins with an entrepreneur. Elon Musk, the primus inter pares, the tech visionary who seems perpetually committed to pushing technology beyond its present capabilities. Earlier this month, amid the storm of news that has enveloped him this year, Musk took the sudden and curious step of dropping a breach of contract lawsuit that had been filed in February in a California state court, accusing the AI research laboratory he co-founded, OpenAI, and its CEO, Sam Altman, along with the company’s co-founder, Greg Brockman, of straying from the lab’s original mission of staying non-profit and independent. Musk accused OpenAI of becoming far too closely aligned with Microsoft, which recently invested $13 billion in the company and took a 49 per cent stake.

APPLE's Role in the Drama

Meanwhile a further, more unexpected entanglement with Apple unfolded as the court case bubbled away. Symbolic of Cupertino’s endless efforts to optimise its ecosystem, the company had pointedly added ChatGPT to its operating systems through its previous partnership with OpenAI. The philosopher Walter Benjamin noted that the mere act of recording something would somehow always change it. Surely, Musk’s threat to ban Apples from his company signalled that the AI space was ramping up the competitive turf war.

Exploring the Microsoft Connection

OpenAI is strategically important to Musk’s beef with Microsoft, a company that has bolstered its own generative AI tools with OpenAI’s tech, including its Copilot software that is integrated into millions of users’ workflows through products such as Windows and Office. This integration has prompted Apple to set up its own lab focused on making its productivity software more AI-powered.

Musk's Vision for AI

Since leaving OpenAI, Musk hasn’t withdrawn from the AI battlefield. His new startup, xAI, is developing Grok, a ChatGPT rival aimed at offering a ‘third option’ to current efforts. Earlier this year, it raised $6 billion from some of Silicon Valley’s biggest hitters, including the venture-capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital, making his ambitions in AI even clearer. Decrying what he sees as a ‘expensive steam engine’ frenzy, Musk says his new AIism ‘aims to take AI development in a new direction that promotes humanity’s greatest potential’.

APPLE's Deep Dive into AI

This gesture indicates a broader strategy from Apple to embrace AI within its ecosystem. By allowing some of the most sophisticated AI tools ever made to tap directly into its operating systems, the global tech giant is promising to improve the user experience while also strengthening its hold and competitive position. At the same time, Apple has signalled its openness to experimenting with how AI can improve its products, starting with Siri and going all the way up to how we interact with any tech device.

The Future of AI and APPLE's Role

But it’s hard to imagine the relationship between Apple and developers such as OpenAI won’t be essential to the technology’s evolution. The sheer resource-rich size and geographic reach of Apple could be uniquely poised to guide the development of AI into consumer technology. Apple could bring exciting advances from pioneers such as OpenAI to users’ devices, whether through partnerships or inward innovation. This iterative process of development should culminate in major innovations that change the way we live.

Reflecting on the APPLE of Technology's Eye

A closer read of Apple’s ongoing drama with Musk and OpenAI shows just how cagily the company is thinking about the future of AI. If Apple isn’t the one creating the next super-intelligent AI, it wants its devices and operating systems to be used for it. As the robots press onwards, maybe the one company that is still making last-century devices butpinning those products as the vanguard of the digital economy – the magical box that makes the future work – is Apple.

Understanding APPLE's Evolution

It has become less of a hardware company than a tech giant with subsidiaries in entertainment, health and now AI, as it evolved and branched out. And we can describe Apple but also admire the company for being able to do this. For Apple might be the leading and most innovative company at the moment, but it also faces fierce competition for this title. ‘Apple could go out of business tomorrow.’ No company is absolutely secured. As long as we remember that, we can say that Apple is one of the leading and most innovative companies of our time. It would be quite a fall if they were to lose this top position, but of course it could happen. However, I think Apple is likely to stay at the top for a while longer. That’s my prediction.


All things considered, Musk’s litigation, OpenAI’s aspirations, and Apple’s manoeuvres in this new world of AI are not just a mere legal matter: they are a canary in the tunnel of technology. As these giant corporations pave their way in AI, innovation, strategic partnership, and above all Vision will set the future of technology. Will technology lead us? Or will we lead technology? If Apple’s history and ambition are anything to go by, the answer should be the later.

Jun 12, 2024
<< Go Back