We Ask Tim Cook: What’s Next In AI?
AI – and all its inherent opportunities and risks – is a trending topic on all our newsfeeds. What’s next for this emerging technology, which some fear could end up posing an existential threat to humanity? In a special bonus episode of our podcast Dua Lipa: At Your Service (out tomorrow, 17 November), Dua sits down with someone who has an unusually large influence in this area: Apple CEO Tim Cook. Apple is not just the largest tech company in the world, it’s the largest company full stop, which broke the $3trillion value mark this year and wields enormous influence over governments and policy makers worldwide. Not to mention its resources to develop and shape new AI technologies. In this extract from their conversation, Dua asks Tim for his take on what’s next for AI, the life-changing possibilities for generative AI (such as large language models including ChatGPT) and the urgent need for regulation.
Dua: Most experts can agree that AI is something that’s going to completely change our world. You’re in a better position than most to speculate – what is that going to look like?
Tim: AI is in all of the products we produce in a very significant way. We don’t label it as such, but if you take the [Apple] watch as an example: if you fall, the watch will detect your fall and send a notification to your emergency contacts and emergency services. It will also detect a [car] crash. It will detect an irregular heartbeat. It will allow you to perform an ECG. If you’re composing a message, predictive typing tries to predict your next word… AI is everywhere today.
What has gathered people’s imagination more recently is ‘generative AI’ and large language models [for example, ChatGPT]. I think this is an area that can be life-changing, in a good way, because it can do things like help diagnose a problem that you’re having from a health point of view. There’s a limitless number of things that AI can do. Unfortunately, it can also do not good things.
Dua: Those are the things that I am more worried about. It seems like there’s so many great things AI can do, but then I think it also poses profound risks and a threat to humanity. Tell me AI isn’t going to destroy the world!
Tim: What is needed with AI is some rules of the road, some regulation. Many governments around the world are now focused on this and how to do it. [Apple is] trying to help with that. We’re one of the first ones that say this is needed. We’re very thoughtful and deliberate about how we approach these things. We think deeply about how people will use our products, and if they can be used for nefarious reasons, we don’t go down those paths.
Dua: Are governments actually able to regulate AI, or have we gone past that point?
Tim: I think most governments are a little behind the curve today; I think that’s a fair assessment. But they’re quickly catching up. The US, the UK, the EU and several countries in Asia are quickly coming up to speed. I do think there will be some AI regulation in the next 12 to 18 months. I’m confident that will happen.
In this special episode of Dua Lipa: At Your Service, Dua and Tim also discuss the future of wearable tech, shattering the glass ceiling for LGBTQIA+ leaders, his succession plans for Apple and much more. Listen on BBC Sounds, or wherever you get your podcasts, to listen to the episode when it drops on Friday 17 November
Tim Cook: The Books That Inspire Me
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – [I read it] as a student. It’s not just for young students, but for all of us.
- Shoe Dog by Phil Knight – It’s meant to be a business book, but it’s a book on life. And I really like that, it’s great.
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi – It is phenomenal.
- I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai – I love Malala’s story and her passion around young girls’ education. The work she does is incredible.