Apple CEO Tim Cook (2nd R) greets customers as he arrives for the launch of the Vision Pro headphones at the Apple Store in New York on February 2, 2024.

Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images

An apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said Wednesday that his company is pouring money into artificial intelligence, one of the strongest signals yet that the iPhone maker is embracing the generative AI craze that has engulfed the tech industry.

The company sees “incredible breakthrough potential for generative AI, which is why we’re investing heavily in this area right now,” Cook said at Apple’s annual shareholder meeting, which was held virtually. “We believe this will unlock transformative opportunities for our users when it comes to productivity, problem solving and more.”

Apple hasn’t unveiled competing products for models like OpenAI’s GPT or Google’s Gemini, but it has teased a big announcement coming this year.

“Later this year, I look forward to sharing with you the ways we’re breaking new ground in generative AI, another technology we believe can redefine the future,” Cook said.

Cook also rephrased several announced Apple products as “powered by AI” to emphasize that the company has been working on the technology for years. In the past, the company avoided the term AI in favor of machine learning.

Current features that use Apple’s AI technology include Vision Pro’s hand tracker and Apple Watch’s heart rate alerts, Cook said. He also said that Apple’s chips in their MacBooks could work with AI.

“AI is woven into our users’ lives for all kinds of tasks, from the mundane to the essential,” Cook said. “AI allows Apple Watch to help you track your workouts by automatically detecting whether you’re walking or going for a swim. This allows your iPhone to call for help if you get into a car accident.”

Apple often announces new software products and features in June at its annual developer conference.

At the meeting, Cook was not asked about the Apple Car project, which he had previously called “the mother of all AI projects.” On Tuesday, officials were told the program was disbanded.

In response to a general question about what products the company chooses to launch, Cook said “a lot of it is the focus.”

The remarks came after Apple shareholders rejected a proposal that would have forced the company to produce a report on AI risks.

The proposal, presented by the AFL-CIO Index Funds, was read at the meeting by Apple retail employee and union organizer Michael Forsyth, and would have the company disclose ethical guidelines for AI. Apple has resisted the effort, arguing that such a move could expose company secrets.

At the meeting, shareholders approved Apple’s board of directors, including the selection of former Aerospace CEO Wanda Austin, who joins after Al Gore and James Bell retire. Shareholders also approved the remuneration of the company’s auditor and executive director.

Five separate independent shareholder proposals that Apple opposed were rejected, including the AI ​​report.

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