Apple’s stealthy stockpiling fuels its AI boom and talent quest.

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TLDR: Apple is quietly ramping up its focus on artificial intelligence (AI). The company has acquired 21 AI startups since 2017 and is actively hiring AI talent. It is reportedly looking to run AI directly on iPhones and could launch an AI-powered version of Siri. Apple has also updated its hardware to support generative AI and is advertising AI-focused jobs in various areas.

Apple has been relatively behind in the AI space, but that may be changing. The company has acquired 21 AI startups since 2017, more than any of its rivals, according to data from PitchBook. Apple is also actively seeking AI talent as it aims to catch up with Google and Microsoft.

Based on analysis of academic papers, industry data, and insights from tech sector experts, the Financial Times reports that Apple is primarily focused on running AI directly on its iPhones, rather than relying on the cloud. It is also reportedly working on an AI-powered version of Siri that could be launched alongside iOS 18 at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

Apple has updated its hardware to support generative AI, such as unveiling more powerful M3 chips for its Macbook line and a new S9 chip for the Apple Watch. This allows Siri to access data without an internet connection. Apple is also hiring roles focused on improving Siri’s AI capabilities and enabling a better conversational experience with the voice assistant.

According to a research note from Morgan Stanley, nearly half of Apple’s AI job postings are now focused on deep learning, which is integral to building large language models. Apple reportedly developed its own large language model called “Ajax” as a rival to ChatGPT.

While Apple has been cautious with AI, CEO Tim Cook has acknowledged the importance of the technology. In a 2023 earnings call, Cook described the AI boom as “huge” for the tech industry but emphasized that Apple would be deliberate and thoughtful in incorporating AI into its products.

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