The Morning Download: Apple Looks to Integrate Applications With AI

By The Wall Street Journal (World News) | Created at 2024-06-11 13:25:12 | Updated at 2024-06-17 02:05:39 5 days ago
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Kelsey Peterson, Apple director for machine learning and Al, speaking on-screen at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday in Cupertino, Calif. PHOTO STEVEN ROSENBUSH / THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

CUPERTINO, Calif.—Good morning, CIOs. Apple’s new vision for AI opens the door for major changes in the way people design and use software, primarily by allowing applications to work together in greater concert.

Today, most applications live on desktops and mobile devices as separate entities. On Monday, Apple laid out a sweeping set of AI features and initiatives that includes, among other things, a lessening of those barriers.

During a roughly two-hour prerecorded keynote presentation that kicked off Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference at headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., CEO Tim Cook and other company leaders sketched out how this integration can be put to use in daily life.

Kelsey Peterson, Apple director for machine learning and AI, said she wanted Siri to tell her when her mom’s flight was going to land. “What is awesome is that Siri actually cross references flight details that my mom shared with me by email with real-time flight tracking to give me her up-to-date arrival time,” Peterson said.

Next, she imagined that she wanted Siri to tell her details of lunch plans with her mom. If the answer isn’t in her calendar, the new version of Siri can check casual conversations mentioned in a text. And it can determine how long it will actually take to get to lunch from the airport. Users will be able to interact with Siri via text as well as voice.

“I haven’t had to jump from mail to messages to maps to figure out this plan. And … tasks that would have taken minutes on my own …  could be addressed in a matter of seconds,” she said.

Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering during the company's Worldwide Developers Conference, June 10, 2024. PHOTO: DAVID PAUL MORRIS/BLOOMBERG

What Apple’s New AI Architecture Entails

Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president of software engineering, explained it this way:

This personal intelligence system is comprised of highly-capable large language and diffusion models that are specialized for your everyday tasks, and can adapt on the fly to your current activity.It also includes an on-device semantic index that can organize and surface information from across your apps.

When you make a request, Apple Intelligence uses its semantic index to identify the relevant personal data, and feeds it into generative models so they have the personal context to best assist you. Many of these models run entirely on-device. There are times, though, when you need models that are larger than what fits in your pocket today.

Apple has integrated AI—what it calls ‘Apple Intelligence’—throughout its software for iPhones, iPads and Macs. PHOTO: APPLE

From the developers’ point of view, Apple’s approach to AI will unlock new possibilities, according to Dylan Field, co-founder and Chief Executive of Figma, a collaborative platform for software designers and developers.

“I think it's really neat when you can say okay, there's different parts of functionality from different apps that can be woven together into one intent .. I'm very curious where that goes over time,” said Field, who was in the audience during Apple’s presentations.

Field said Apple talked deeply about integrating AI functionality into various app experiences and into the Apple platform, in contrast to the “sprinkle AI on top” approach taken by some companies. “I'm hopeful this … kicks off a lot more serious investment by developers into how do you truly improve your app experience and really design with AI in mind,” he said.

Adobe called off its planned $20 billion acquisition of Figma late last year, weeks after a U.K. regulator warned that the deal would likely harm innovation.

“What it is going to converge on is, you'll pull up your phone, you'll ask it a question. It'll either tell you the answer or it'll complete the action for you,” said Aaron Levie, co-founder and chief executive of enterprise cloud company Box, who was also at the event. “What we saw today was the biggest stepping stone in that direction that Apple's shown, probably since the creation of Siri,” Levie said.

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IT job market still shrinking. The IT sector lost 9,400 jobs this year through April, pushing it into recession territory, consulting firm Janco Associates Inc. said Monday, citing adjusted data from the U.S. Department of Labor.

“With that data, a report that 129,000 IT Pros are unemployed and an unemployment rate for IT Pros at 4.7%, we believe a recession has started in the IT sector of the economy," said Janco CEO Victor Janulaitis in a post.

Looking ahead, firms remain focused on removing "non-essential" jobs even as AI slows the growth of entry-level positions within IT, Janulaitis said. 

States race ahead of federal lawmakers in AI regulations. State lawmakers have pushed nearly 400 new laws on AI in recent months, with California leading the way with 50 bills, says the New York Times. California’s legislature is expected to vote on AI laws by Aug. 31.

Best AI regulation name ever. The ELVIS Act  (Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security Act) passed by Tennessee’s legislature protects musicians from having their talents used in AI content without their permission.

PHOTO: PETER MORGAN / AP PHOTO

JPMorgan Chase names CTO. Former PayPal technology executive Sri Shivananda, who starts later this month, will report to Global CIO Lori Beer, the bank said in a memo Monday, Reuters reports. He will succeed A.J. Lang, who announced plans to retire earlier this year, according to the bank.

Beer in the memo said that Shivananda’s experience around driving business growth and boosting innovation, among other capabilities, will be “invaluable as we tackle complex technological challenges.”

The bank also noted two additions to its Global Technology Leadership Team: Manoj Sindhwani, CIO for the chief data and analytics office, and Darrin Alves, CIO for infrastructure platforms. Both come from Amazon.

OpenAI taps Sarah Friar as finance chief. Friar most recently served as chief executive of social-networking platform Nextdoor.

Quest Diagnostics elects FedEx CIO to board. Rob Carter also serves on the board of directors of New York Life.

The White House is close to naming derivatives regulator Christy Goldsmith Romero to head the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., replacing the beleaguered banking agency’s longtime chairman Martin Gruenberg. (WSJ)

The main channel to the Port of Baltimore fully reopened, nearly 11 weeks after a cargo ship lost power and slammed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge, shutting down one of the nation’s busiest waterways. (WSJ)

Singapore Airlines has offered an initial $25,000 in compensation for passengers severely injured on board its London to Singapore flight last month that experienced one of the worst turbulence-related accidents in aviation history. (WSJ)


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