Apple may have restricted employee use of ChatGPT due to privacy concerns

The tech giant is also developing large language models of its own, WSJ says.


Apple is famous for being protective of its projects and for expecting secrecy from its workers. Now, according to The Wall Street Journal, the tech giant is concerned about the possibility of its employees inadvertently leaking proprietary data while using ChatGPT. To prevent that scenario from happening, Apple has reportedly restricted the use of ChatGPT and other AI tools, such as GitHub's Copilot that can autocomplete code. The Journal also says that Apple is working on large language models of its own.

In early April, The Economist Korea reported that three Samsung employees shared confidential information with ChatGPT. Apparently, one employee asked the chatbot to check database source code for errors, while another asked it to optimize code. The third employee reportedly uploaded a recorded meeting onto the chatbot and asked it to write minutes. It's unclear how Apple is restricting use of generative AI tools and if it's prohibiting their use completely. But in Samsung's case, the company restricted the length of employees' ChatGPT prompts to a kilobyte or 1024 characters of text.

Large language models like OpenAI's become better the more people use them, because users' interactions are sent back to developers for further training. ChatGPT's terms and conditions, for instance, state that conversations "may be reviewed by [its] AI trainers to improve [its] systems." For a secretive company like Apple, limiting their use doesn't come as a surprise. That said, OpenAI introduced a new privacy control setting in April that enables users to switch off their chat histories so that their conversations can't be used for training. The company made it available after it had to pull ChatGPT for a few hours due to a bug that showed users other people's chat histories.

Not much is known about Apple's LLM projects at the moment, if there truly are any, but all its AI efforts are under the supervision of John Giannandrea, who used to lead Google's search and AI teams. The tech giant has also snapped up a number of AI startups over the past few years. When asked about AI in an interview recently, Apple chief Tim Cook hinted that the tech giant is taking a cautious approach by saying: "I do think it's very important to be deliberate and thoughtful in how you approach these things."

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