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ChatGPT on Apple Watch? There’s an app for that…

While we wait for the inevitable cracks in the code to expose themselves, generative AI is all the rage across tech with implications across every business. Now you can even get ChatGPT on your Apple Watch.

ChatGPT on your wrist?

The watchGPT Apple Watch app isn’t made by Apple and costs $3.99. Once it is installed, you’ll be able to use natural language or type to ask it questions, which it will answer with results drawn from across the web. The app is also capable of creating lengthier messages, poetry,or even sick notes, on your behalf.

It has its own Complication, which means you can add a little button to the watch face to ask it questions. You can also text, email, or use social media to share those responses; the developer promises that no data leaves the device and that it is working on a series of updates for the app.

Generative AI seems to have upturned the industry. Microsoft has bet big on the tech, Google has accelerated its existing work on Bard, others want in, and many are now attempting to develop their own take on this form of AI. DuckDuckGo even popped OpenAI inside its search engine, while Slack has tucked ChatGPT inside its own service.

OpenAI isn’t sleeping and this month announced yet more new APIs for its ChatGPT and Whisper products. Whisper is used by the MacWhisper transcription app I recently raved about.

Does Apple have an answer?

Apple’s recent internal AI presentation allegedly didn’t have an answer to the tech, with Digitimes claiming its appearance is prompting a rethink within the company’s own AI teams. That may be true, but the company does have some significant advantages such as the on-processor Neural Engine that it may choose to deploy. Apple’s AI chief apparently told engineers gathered at Apple’s own AI event, “Machine learning is moving faster than ever, and the talent we have here is truly at the forefront.”

It is true that Apple has found really effective ways to deploy AI within critical vertical applications, such as accessibility, photography, or health, but it has not achieved as much in other sectors: Siri, despite its early start, has clearly lost the voice assistant wars, unless Apple knows something we don’t.

It might.

Humane Inc, a startup founded by ex-Apple employees, is collaborating with OpenAI on some form of augmented wearable device. “An integrated device and cloud platform that will allow us, and others, to create AI-driven experiences that feel natural, fun and needed,” explained Humane CTO and ex-Apple alumni Patrick Gates.

Given we think that’s the kind of offering Apple wants to build with its forthcoming Reality One AR glasses system, one can’t help but wonder if the company has a plan to leverage the huge horde of search information it has already gathered to help deliver Spotlight search results.

Maybe it does, but as of now Apple’s machine intelligence teams don’t seem to wear the crown. Perhaps they don’t need to, given that you can already download and install Siri shortcuts that let you use Siri as the front end and ChatGPT to drive the responses. I’m convinced Apple’s AI teams will be taking a good solid look at implementations like this, as well as exploring their own potential paths.

The risk of progress

There are risks to this proliferation. I recently saw US Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) speak in London. He warned that while discussions around applied AI claim employment opportunities will emerge, he still expects significant turmoil across job markets.

The social impact will be huge, Sanders warns, and though an opportunity to reinvent work and support life-long education exists, the appetite to take that road remains scant. There is perhaps some chance AI may help supply some routes to retraining. Sanders is not an outlier in this expectation. (Even Apple’s former senior director of AI and machine learning has made warnings like these.)

Elsewhere on the political spectrum, former OpenAI co-founder Elon Musk recently told attendees at the World Government Summit in Dubai, “One of the biggest risks to the future of civilization is AI.” He thinks AI must be regulated as a result.

Of course, as multiple companies coalesce their AI efforts around OpenAI’s tech, the danger exists that the answers it generates could end up becoming homogenous, which may in itself risk creative thinking and diversity.

The increasingly understood need to balance AI with human empathy and creativity inevitably means those core skills will drive enterprises through the digital transformation and become the most sought-after qualities for the future of work.

All the same, while digital twins and cobots (collaborative robots) may be part of the fast-emerging future, in many cases human workers will find themselves training their robot replacements.

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Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.


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