Apple could be impacted by proposed US export ban on AI, Computer Vision, iPhone processor...

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The Department of Commerce is examining the possibility of controlling the export of emerging technologies to other nations, with the list of proposed tech including areas of interest to Apple, including processor technology, artificial intelligence, computer vision, and natural language processing.




A document highlighted by former presidential technology and national security advisor R. David Edelman on Twitter reveals the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security has requested comments about monitoring the sales of certain technologies to countries outside the United States.

The Bureau of Industry and Security controls the export of "dual use and less sensitive military items" via Export Administration Regulations (EAR), specifically through the Commerce Control List (CCL). The CCL advises of whether specific items need to be handled in specific ways in order to leave the country, such as by acquiring licenses before being exportable to specific locations, and is usually meant to prevent potentially harmful products or technologies from being acquired or misused by bad actors.

The list covers a large number of areas ranging from aerospace and propulsion systems to more sensitive areas, such as chemicals, toxins, microorganisms, or nuclear materials. The list also includes sections for electronics, computers, telecommunications, and information security, with each section covering a wide variety of sensitive areas of concern to national security.

According to the filing, the Bureau notes that there are certain types of "emerging technologies" that are yet to have been included in the CCL, which have yet to be evaluated for their "national security impacts." The filing is a request for public comment on "criteria for identifying emerging technologies that are essential to U.S. national security," due to the potential of being used as conventional weapons, weapons of mass destruction, terrorist applications, intelligence collection, or "could provide the United States with a qualitative military or intelligence advantage."

The list of areas the Bureau wishes comment on is long, and contains quite a few publicly-known technology types. For Artificial Intelligence, this includes neural network and deep learning technologies, computer vision, speech and audio processing, natural language processing, planning, AI cloud technologies, AI chipsets, and the potential for audio and video manipulation technologies.

The AI section covers a number of products and services Apple both offer to consumers, and those it is actively working on. For example, the natural language processing and AI technologies relate to Siri, along with Apple's other machine learning work, while computer vision would cover Face ID and vision systems used in Apple's self-driving vehicle-oriented "Project Titan."

Other general areas raised include the fields of biotechnology, positioning and navigation, quantum information and sensing technology, 3D printing, robotics including drones, brain-computer interfaces, advanced materials, advanced surveillance, and microprocessor technology.

The filing is a request for comments, rather than proposals for restrictions to the named technologies. It is also not unexpected for the government to have an interest in how each technology is used in other countries, as it has a vested interest to prevent U.S. Technology from being used by terrorists in an enemy state against the United States itself.

The wide-ranging nature of the requests is likely to impact the vast majority of big tech companies, Apple included, and is almost certainly going to draw commentary from those working in each field. In the case of Apple, restrictions on AI technology could hypothetically prevent the company from selling iPhones in specific markets completely, or force it to produce a version with features cut to comply with licensing rules.

The deadline for comments is on a highly-aggressive timetable during a holiday season where the federal government is normally pretty quiet. The deadline of December 19, 2018 gives only a one-month window for responses from the public before the Bureau starts pressing the matter further.

According to the filing, comments can be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal using identification number "BIS 2018-0024", as well as via the mail.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,878member
    I remember back in the late 70's early 80's we Apple Dealers had a list of countries we were banned from selling to such as Russia.
    SpamSandwichcornchip
  • Reply 2 of 22
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member
    Is exporting a product that uses one of the possibly restricted technologies the issue, or would it instead be exporting the software code itself that makes it possible, which Apple does do AFAIK, supplying it to Foxconn/Pegetron for loading onto new iPhones? The second scenario could be mitigated by having iPhone's sent to the US with no OS, Apple installing that here. Less convenient and efficient yes, but avoiding the "export of AI technologies" for instance. 

    The first possibility. that it's simply having the technology installed on a device, could be a major financial hit on Apple and the desirability of their products in a country like China sure to be on the restricted list. 
    edited November 2018
  • Reply 3 of 22
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,951member
    MacPro said:
    I remember back in the late 70's early 80's we Apple Dealers had a list of countries we were banned from selling to such as Russia.
    Don't even need to go that far back.  This is very similar to the strong encryption export restrictions in the 90s (dating back to WWII).
    edited November 2018 SpamSandwich
  • Reply 4 of 22
    Is this the reason today the stock is again being pummeled?
  • Reply 5 of 22
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,089administrator
    gatorguy said:
    Is exporting a product that uses one of the possibly restricted technologies the issue, or would it instead be exporting the software code itself that makes it possible, which Apple does do AFAIK, supplying it to Foxconn/Pegetron for loading onto new iPhones? The second scenario could be mitigated by having iPhone's sent to the US with no OS, Apple installing that here. Less convenient and efficient yes, but avoiding the "export of AI technologies" for instance. 

    The first possibility. that it's simply having the technology installed on a device, could be a major financial hit on Apple and the desirability of their products in a country like China sure to be on the restricted list. 
    There are multiple scenarios that could play out as a result of this request for comment period. One of them is the export of software code, and the latter is your second scenario.
  • Reply 6 of 22
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,200member
    Reminds me  a little of AltiVec and Apple marketing playing off the national security aspect.

    Restricting the elements (hardware and in software) likely to be available on iPhones now or in the future will probably serve little purpose. 

    Much of it will have an equivalent technology available from the countries where the 'bad actors' come from and deciding who the bad actors are is very subjective anyway.

    No one country will be able to do anything effective. It would take a joint effort.
  • Reply 7 of 22
    MacPro said:
    I remember back in the late 70's early 80's we Apple Dealers had a list of countries we were banned from selling to such as Russia.
    Yeah. In october 1993 we took a 200mHz DEC Alpha to Kazakhstan for an Oil and Gas Expo. We needed a US Supercomputer Export License for the trip even though it was coming back. Less than a year later we sold several Alpha's to a Bank in Almaty and no license was needed.

    When the USSR Imploded all sorts of computers came out of the woodwork and the likes of DEC, HP and IBM suddenly found homes for all their obsolete systems as replacement parts/donors.
    Those were the days eh?
  • Reply 8 of 22
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,855member
    I have a ceiling fan installed four years ago. The lights won't come on. There is a 1.2 A fuse in the fan body. I replaced the fuse and turned on. The fuse burnt again. I don't what to do. The fuse is only 1.2 A. What is the purpose of it? Can I just bypass the fuse? I called the company asking what to do. The support told me I can use aluminum foil to bypass the fuse. He said the fuse is due to a government regulation restring how much power the lights can use. So if the user try to replace with brighter more power bulbs the fuse will burn. Without his explanation I could never figure out why a 1.2 A fuse is needed. This is how the government is working with the companies for the goods of Americans. 
  • Reply 9 of 22
    tzeshan said:
    I have a ceiling fan installed four years ago. The lights won't come on. There is a 1.2 A fuse in the fan body. I replaced the fuse and turned on. The fuse burnt again. I don't what to do. The fuse is only 1.2 A. What is the purpose of it? Can I just bypass the fuse? I called the company asking what to do. The support told me I can use aluminum foil to bypass the fuse. He said the fuse is due to a government regulation restring how much power the lights can use. So if the user try to replace with brighter more power bulbs the fuse will burn. Without his explanation I could never figure out why a 1.2 A fuse is needed. This is how the government is working with the companies for the goods of Americans. 
    I don't claim to know anything about US lighting laws but my understanding was that it wasn't possible to get a ban on incandescent bulbs through the house. Perhaps someone somehow sneaked through a backdoor partial ban by requiring fuses in some fixtures. Plenty of countries around the world have banned inefficient bulbs and it is part of the reason that we have so much choice of LEDs now - which by the way might solve your problem. Low-power LED bulbs with high luminosity. 
  • Reply 10 of 22
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,609member
    Is this the reason today the stock is again being pummeled?
    Not hardly. All the tech stocks are down...

    Facebook -5.72%
    Apple        -3.96%
    Amazon    -5.09%
    Netflix       -5.45%
    Google     -3.82%
    Microsoft  -3.39%

    Don’t try to single out AAPL when it’s just following the tech rout in general. For whatever reason the tech sector is taking a beating because of the usual reasons. Worry and doubt are fueling this decline.
    edited November 2018
  • Reply 11 of 22
    Things that go BOOM or help things go BOOM have always been under export control.
  • Reply 12 of 22
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,928moderator
    If the government wants comments here one of the most important messages they should receive...  these technologies are being developed in parallel all around the world, in context of a free market.  Any nation that is unduly restricted from access to that market will see profits diminished, and that will impact that nation’s R&D funding for those technologies.  And that nation will therefore inevitably fall behind.  That is exactly what the government should fear most.    
    edited November 2018 larryjwSpamSandwich
  • Reply 13 of 22
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,896member
    Putting the xenophobic motivations of the current administration aside - there are are some massive draft-horse sized holes in the barn doors that this proposal is trying to close. If you look closely at where some (and perhaps a majority) of the stated "critical" technologies are being researched, developed, and funded you will find a lot of post graduate work being done on these technologies in the US by non-US students as well as in the offshore R&D labs of many major US companies in all technology sectors. To infer that this is "US technology" that needs to be protected from "leakage" is rather laughable. If non-US countries retaliate against the US and withhold the brainpower that is powering a significant amount of pure research in several (non weapons related) technology areas it's the US that will suffer mightily. One has only to take a little peek into history to see where many of the most significant advantages in US technological superiority have come from. Whether it's rocket propulsion, jet propulsion, nuclear weapons, submarine technology, radar, sonar, electrical power distribution, alternating current, telephony, cryptography, the most widely used computer architecture in history, and numerous other world changing inventions you will see non-US scientists behind the inventions and innovation needed to bring these advances to society. To infer that the US has exclusivity on smart people, or driven people, or geniuses, or mathematicians, or engineers, or doctors, or any number of highly impactful specializations and vocations that change the world is beyond naive or arrogant, it's downright reckless. The US needs a constant inflow of creative genius to offset its education system that is more focused on creating profits for the university and filling sports stadiums than shaping an army of great minds that will advance the human race. Be careful what you ask for. 
    radarthekatlarryjw
  • Reply 14 of 22
    A shame the government isn’t this concerned about weapons. 
  • Reply 15 of 22
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,975member
    dewme said:
    Putting the xenophobic motivations of the current administration aside - there are are some massive draft-horse sized holes in the barn doors that this proposal is trying to close. If you look closely at where some (and perhaps a majority) of the stated "critical" technologies are being researched, developed, and funded you will find a lot of post graduate work being done on these technologies in the US by non-US students as well as in the offshore R&D labs of many major US companies in all technology sectors. To infer that this is "US technology" that needs to be protected from "leakage" is rather laughable. If non-US countries retaliate against the US and withhold the brainpower that is powering a significant amount of pure research in several (non weapons related) technology areas it's the US that will suffer mightily. One has only to take a little peek into history to see where many of the most significant advantages in US technological superiority have come from. Whether it's rocket propulsion, jet propulsion, nuclear weapons, submarine technology, radar, sonar, electrical power distribution, alternating current, telephony, cryptography, the most widely used computer architecture in history, and numerous other world changing inventions you will see non-US scientists behind the inventions and innovation needed to bring these advances to society. To infer that the US has exclusivity on smart people, or driven people, or geniuses, or mathematicians, or engineers, or doctors, or any number of highly impactful specializations and vocations that change the world is beyond naive or arrogant, it's downright reckless. The US needs a constant inflow of creative genius to offset its education system that is more focused on creating profits for the university and filling sports stadiums than shaping an army of great minds that will advance the human race. Be careful what you ask for. 
    Your first sentence is the entire reason for these proposed changes. The problem is technology will always find a way out of this country, as well as out of other countries. If there's a dollar (or a bunch of dollars) to be made, rules are bent or changed to allow those people to make money. As you say, it's not just US citizens developing these technologies, it's (mainly) people from other countries that we're paying to develop it. This is simply another round of grandstanding by the current administration trying to feed his base. If his base actually knew what goes into everyday products they use and how things work, they should be surprised but they really aren't. Watch the video about the rumored removal of the Statue of Liberty and listen to the people's responses. It shows how crazy people are.  
    radarthekatlarryjw
  • Reply 16 of 22
    That will only hurt US industries on the long run (and create black markets, which will be worse for the "affected" countries). Funny thing is, if this piece of legislation ever goes through, it will serve only to energize the current dead end that is to compete with Apple. After the encryption export ban fiasco, up until the 90's, one would think that (any) governments had already recognized that science and tech do not care for political borders. Smart people happen everywhere!
    dewme
  • Reply 17 of 22
    adamcadamc Posts: 564member
    I thought Apple export all their products from China.
  • Reply 18 of 22
    IanSIanS Posts: 31member
    Don't see how enforcing this on small hand held consumer devices would be possible. Perhaps development systems.
  • Reply 19 of 22
    Since we do trade wars again in this Trump era, I guess we also get to play Cold War as well except now Russia and our prez are buds and the Chinese and Europeans are the enemy?
  • Reply 20 of 22
    Shouldn’t this thread be locked by now for all of the baldly anti-Trump rhetoric?
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