Tim Cook talks the need for privacy and exciting AI, AR

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After being named one of the "titans" in Time's list of the 100 most influential people of 2021, Apple CEO Tim Cook talked to the publication about the environment, privacy, and his excitement of AR and AI.




On Wednesday, Tim Cook was named alongside 99 other businesspeople, artists, athletes, musicians, and government officials in the unranked Time list. In a follow-up discussion published on Sunday, Cook talks about a number of subjects close to his heart, and Apple itself.

On his decade-long tenure as Apple CEO, Cook claims the biggest thing he learned is that he has even more to learn.

"I learned very quickly to remember that I had two years and only one mouth, and to listen very carefully to people that I'm surrounding myself with, because I have some of the best and brightest people around me," Cook confided. "And they're smarter than I am."

Environment, Privacy, and Apple

Moving into the concept of stakeholder capitalism and Apple's supporting of environmental and other projects, Cook points out that, while goals have changed over the years and "gotten much bolder," Apple has "always cared deeply about the environment. We've always cared deeply about workers."

"We're in a period of time where some of the biggest problems of the world, like climate change as just one example, this is not going to get solved solely by government," proposes Cook. "This needs other constituencies and other stakeholders to move in the same direction and have public/private partnerships. Diversity and inclusion, racial equity and injustice, these are all things that we need the whole of society moving forward on."

When asked why it's important for Apple to be involved in the public conversation around equity and the environment, Cook insists "It's nothing to do with image and so forth."

"It's about, we're a collection of people in Apple that want to change the world for the better," he offers. "We want to leave the world better than we found it. And to do that, you have to be a part of the conversation in areas where the policies of government intersect with your values."

Turning to privacy and Apple's push to enshrine it, Cook starts off with the typical statement of Apple believing privacy is a basic human right.

"It starts with that," the CEO begins. "And we believe that privacy is one of the most consequential issues of our time. I mean, it's right up there, near the top of the list of things. And we see every day, people's privacy being taken for granted, and them losing control."

Exciting tech

In the latter part of the interview, the attention shifts to what Cook is excited by in the technology field. Cook initially admits "I get really jazzed about AI," with it appearing in many products "that you don't really think about."

He offers that it helps in everything from facial recognition and image grouping to the more obvious Siri. "I mean, AI is everywhere. And I see that we're at the very early stages of what it can do for people and how it can make people's lives easier."

Cook also mentions AR and its potential to be an "overlay of the virtual world with the real world" that does so without "distracting from the physical world and your physical relationships."

Expressing a belief that tech can "do so much good in the world" depending on its creator, Cook is optimistic "about all the things that can happen in our lives that free up time for more leisure activities and other things that we want to do in life.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    We've always cared deeply about workers”

    You fought your employees in court to try to avoid paying them while you made them wait in line for bag checks. 
    elijahgwilliamlondonn2itivguygatorguybeowulfschmidtcuriousrun8
  • Reply 2 of 38
    Am I one of the few who’s not excited about AR?
    mobirdelijahgwilliamlondonlkruppnapoleon_phoneapartdk49dewmecuriousrun8
  • Reply 3 of 38
    Two “years”? Someone wasn’t paying close attention during that interview.
    williamlondonFileMakerFelleraderutter
  • Reply 4 of 38
    bluefire1 said:
    Am I one of the few who’s not excited about AR?
    I’m kinda with you. Right now, pretty much everything is a little “meh” to me as well, but I am very excited to what it will become. 

    I can see that all this ground work needs putting into place for it to become amazing and in everyone’s daily lives when we have technology that can truly deliver it. 

    Think Bluetooth headphones. Liked the idea. Hated the reality (in the 90’s). This lead in a roundabout way to the technology for AirPods which I love (thank you Space Javelin for the awesome analogy https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/space-javelin/id983308503). 
    elijahg
  • Reply 5 of 38
    As long as iCloud is not encrypted and with the private keys in the hands of the user, every word about Privacy from Tim Cook feels empty. People think it's their iPhone, it's not. The absolute vast majority of things is sent to iCloud. Even non Apple apps using CloudKit. 

    The latest fiasco with undermining E2E encryption is just another example of terrible, terrible privacy practices and questions what goes in their heads to even ponder compromising it... The crypto wars is a multi decade issue that was fought furiously. It's 2021 and Apple has no idea where encryption comes from.

    Mark my words, People will UNDERESTIMATE the importance of privacy in the next decade.  
    elijahgxyzzy-xxxwilliamlondonpatchythepiratemuthuk_vanalingamCheeseFreeze
  • Reply 6 of 38
    Just a question…

    quote: “…other businesspeople, artists, athletes, musicians, and government officials …”

    Is actual ‘music’ so bad that ‘musicians’ are not included as ‘artists’?
    williamlondonnapoleon_phoneapart
  • Reply 7 of 38
    I don't believe anything Apple tells about privacy until image scanning (CSAM) on the device is finally declared to be dead. 
    williamlondonlkruppelijahgamar99OctoMonkeycuriousrun8
  • Reply 8 of 38
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,560member
    bluefire1 said:
    Am I one of the few who’s not excited about AR?
    I put AR right up there with 5G, both nothing burgers at the present time, solutions in search of future problems, marketing at its finest.
    napoleon_phoneapartmuthuk_vanalingamelijahgjony0
  • Reply 9 of 38
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,560member
    xyzzy-xxx said:
    I don't believe anything Apple tells about privacy until image scanning (CSAM) on the device is finally declared to be dead. 
    As long as you understand you have no place to go for better privacy and security. NOWHERE!
    n2itivguypatchythepirateMacProjony0
  • Reply 10 of 38
    lmasanti said:
    Just a question…

    quote: “…other businesspeople, artists, athletes, musicians, and government officials …”

    Is actual ‘music’ so bad that ‘musicians’ are not included as ‘artists’?
    He is referring to painters etc. 
  • Reply 11 of 38
    bluefire1 said:
    Am I one of the few who’s not excited about AR?
    yes, how can you not be excited about apple glass???
    aderutter
  • Reply 12 of 38
    xyzzy-xxx said:
    I don't believe anything Apple tells about privacy until image scanning (CSAM) on the device is finally declared to be dead. 
    It has already been explained that you have to opt-in to iCloud Photos syncing to enable CSAM scans.
    dewmezimmiejony0
  • Reply 13 of 38
    dk49dk49 Posts: 172member
    bluefire1 said:
    Am I one of the few who’s not excited about AR?
    I feel the same. I was quite excited about AR earlier, especially thinking about the "Apple Glass". But just like the Apple Car, I am kind of tired about Tim talking about how exciting AR is, and hearing all the associated rumours, but not seeing any concrete product so far from Apple. Facebook already announced their AR glasses, and though they might be crappy, they didn't take so long to release. I have no doubt that Apple's version will be much better, and that they will unveil it once the technology is "ready", but I don't think I would feel so excited about them anymore.

    Same for Apple Car. Rumours work in favour of the product to build some anticipation only upto a certain extent. After that, people start losing interest in that product.
    edited September 19 elijahg
  • Reply 14 of 38
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,582moderator
    dk49 said:
    Rumours work in favour of the product to build some anticipation only upto a certain extent. After that, people start losing interest in that product.
    It won't change interest in the product when it's released if it's well made. AR done right will change the way people use computers. Even with highly portable computers/tablets/smartphones, people still sit hunched over them locked into computer-mode. With AR the computer conforms to the environment of the user. It's the next human-computer interface and can only be superseded by a computer-mind interface, which would have largely the same interaction model that AR has.

    A lot of mockups imagine an AR UI outdoors in moving scenarios and they often squeeze the entire UI into the visible area like a tiny screen:



    but prolonged use will likely still be in static positions, just more flexible scenarios than current devices allow and it allows the entire environment space to be used:



    It can give you multiple 60" displays to put content on or have items floating everywhere. Emails, notifications can be out of view until they trigger and the user would turn to look at them or slide the entire environment over.

    They'd have to have a desirable form factor for a lot of people to wear while still providing an immersive experience.



    There are a lot of decisions to make to get a product that will work well and technology has to be sufficiently advanced to do this. All of the groundwork is being laid - Lidar, motion tracking, high density displays, efficient Apple Silicon, machine learning hardware, depth processing, spatial audio, computational imaging, realistic rendering pipeline.

    There is AR hardware out there just now but examples like the Microsoft HoloLens show yet again how they think about product design:



    They have the user with the Windows logo/Start Menu on their wrist. This is typical Microsoft where they can't envision anything that doesn't look like Windows. Their Windows phone UI had to look like a start menu. They also don't think about what is compelling for people to use these products for. Apple's products focus on empowering creatives - music, movies, art, photography. Apple's AR product will do the same and if they do it right, it will have as much of an impact as the iPhone.

    There's very little concrete to go on from the talk about AR but that was true of the original iPhone where people were trying to imagine what a cellular iPod would do. AR can do things that will blow people's minds. It can bring people back from the dead in virtual form, it can store a face model of people when they were younger and remap it onto their older face in real-time (1:37):



    or change people into Disney characters:



    People can try on clothes virtually in a way that is practical, teachers can take classrooms back to different eras in time, movies can feel like being at a personal cinema or even inside the movie. There's so much more that can be done with AR than what has been seen so far. What people think about AR now will matter as much as what people thought about smartphones before 2007.
    aderutter
  • Reply 15 of 38
    bluefire1 said:
    Am I one of the few who’s not excited about AR?
    AR could refer to AR glasses like Microsoft HoloLens, Google Glass, or Magic Leap ML1, or it could refer to AR experiences on iPhone and iPad that use Apple's ARKit and RealityKit.

    I still feel we're about 10 years away from general purpose AR product that you wear over your eyes and it becomes a must have product at a reasonable price. But we're not there yet (or if we are, it won't cost $500). The real magic happening right now are the ARKit-apps that anyone with a modern iPhone or iPad can experience today. It's getting better as the iPhone gains new capabilities (such as LiDAR-enhanced scene and object detection). But I totally get it if this stuff seems like it's still in the research phase, because it is.
  • Reply 16 of 38
    As long as iCloud is not encrypted and with the private keys in the hands of the user, every word about Privacy from Tim Cook feels empty. People think it's their iPhone, it's not. The absolute vast majority of things is sent to iCloud. Even non Apple apps using CloudKit. 

    The latest fiasco with undermining E2E encryption is just another example of terrible, terrible privacy practices and questions what goes in their heads to even ponder compromising it... The crypto wars is a multi decade issue that was fought furiously. It's 2021 and Apple has no idea where encryption comes from.

    Mark my words, People will UNDERESTIMATE the importance of privacy in the next decade.  
    I completely agree. 
    Especially considering the fact both Google and Apple always bow to repressive government demands. 
    elijahg
  • Reply 17 of 38
    dk49dk49 Posts: 172member
    Marvin said:
    dk49 said:
    Rumours work in favour of the product to build some anticipation only upto a certain extent. After that, people start losing interest in that product.
    It won't change interest in the product when it's released if it's well made. AR done right will change the way people use computers. Even with highly portable computers/tablets/smartphones, people still sit hunched over them locked into computer-mode. With AR the computer conforms to the environment of the user. It's the next human-computer interface and can only be superseded by a computer-mind interface, which would have largely the same interaction model that AR has.

    A lot of mockups imagine an AR UI outdoors in moving scenarios and they often squeeze the entire UI into the visible area like a tiny screen:



    but prolonged use will likely still be in static positions, just more flexible scenarios than current devices allow and it allows the entire environment space to be used:



    It can give you multiple 60" displays to put content on or have items floating everywhere. Emails, notifications can be out of view until they trigger and the user would turn to look at them or slide the entire environment over.

    They'd have to have a desirable form factor for a lot of people to wear while still providing an immersive experience.



    There are a lot of decisions to make to get a product that will work well and technology has to be sufficiently advanced to do this. All of the groundwork is being laid - Lidar, motion tracking, high density displays, efficient Apple Silicon, machine learning hardware, depth processing, spatial audio, computational imaging, realistic rendering pipeline.

    There is AR hardware out there just now but examples like the Microsoft HoloLens show yet again how they think about product design:



    They have the user with the Windows logo/Start Menu on their wrist. This is typical Microsoft where they can't envision anything that doesn't look like Windows. Their Windows phone UI had to look like a start menu. They also don't think about what is compelling for people to use these products for. Apple's products focus on empowering creatives - music, movies, art, photography. Apple's AR product will do the same and if they do it right, it will have as much of an impact as the iPhone.

    There's very little concrete to go on from the talk about AR but that was true of the original iPhone where people were trying to imagine what a cellular iPod would do. AR can do things that will blow people's minds. It can bring people back from the dead in virtual form, it can store a face model of people when they were younger and remap it onto their older face in real-time (1:37):



    or change people into Disney characters:



    People can try on clothes virtually in a way that is practical, teachers can take classrooms back to different eras in time, movies can feel like being at a personal cinema or even inside the movie. There's so much more that can be done with AR than what has been seen so far. What people think about AR now will matter as much as what people thought about smartphones before 2007.
    Yes, I am well aware of the potential of AR glasses, and them being the next computing platform. But I am just tired of hearing Tim talk about it so often, while he's well aware that Apple Glasses are years away from launch. 
    mobird
  • Reply 18 of 38
    As long as iCloud is not encrypted and with the private keys in the hands of the user, every word about Privacy from Tim Cook feels empty. People think it's their iPhone, it's not. The absolute vast majority of things is sent to iCloud. Even non Apple apps using CloudKit. 

    The latest fiasco with undermining E2E encryption is just another example of terrible, terrible privacy practices and questions what goes in their heads to even ponder compromising it... The crypto wars is a multi decade issue that was fought furiously. It's 2021 and Apple has no idea where encryption comes from.

    Mark my words, People will UNDERESTIMATE the importance of privacy in the next decade.  
    I completely agree. 
    Especially considering the fact both Google and Apple always bow to repressive government demands. 
    Some suggest the importance of digital privacy has been underestimated for some time and that it extends beyond cloud services: shoshanazuboff.com/book/about/
  • Reply 19 of 38
    lkrupp said:
    xyzzy-xxx said:
    I don't believe anything Apple tells about privacy until image scanning (CSAM) on the device is finally declared to be dead. 
    As long as you understand you have no place to go for better privacy and security. NOWHERE!
    It's not that there's no where to go, it's just that any better alternatives for privacy and security issues are way more complex for the end-user and thus not really practical for the vast majority of users. It's rather a sad state of computing. I've decided to move on from Apple and finally make the move to Linux and Graphene OS on a Pixel. As a fervent user of Apple products since the early 90s, it makes me sad: I still really, really enjoy Apple's products despite their shortcomings (from my perspective) and don't feel the same enchantment for Linux distros or Android forks. But I don't want to support Apple anymore. I've been feeling this way for a few years now, and its recent moves have just cemented my resolve.

    Luckily, there are now a few distros with user environments that make it pretty easy to transition. That said, I plan on moving to Ubuntu or Asahi Linux once they're fully ported to the new M1 architecture. And despite what I wrote earlier, the adventure seems pretty exciting and I'm surprised how much fun it's been to learn the basics of using new operating systems that are also more technical in nature.
    elijahg
  • Reply 20 of 38
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,896member
    bluefire1 said:
    Am I one of the few who’s not excited about AR?
    AR could refer to AR glasses like Microsoft HoloLens, Google Glass, or Magic Leap ML1, or it could refer to AR experiences on iPhone and iPad that use Apple's ARKit and RealityKit.

    I still feel we're about 10 years away from general purpose AR product that you wear over your eyes and it becomes a must have product at a reasonable price. But we're not there yet (or if we are, it won't cost $500). The real magic happening right now are the ARKit-apps that anyone with a modern iPhone or iPad can experience today. It's getting better as the iPhone gains new capabilities (such as LiDAR-enhanced scene and object detection). But I totally get it if this stuff seems like it's still in the research phase, because it is.
    I tend to agree with the reality still being a few years off in the future. One nagging concern I always have around anything that has too much up-front hype is that it’s rare for any new and groundbreaking product to get everything right on the first release. Any some point you have to release something that will allow you to get real (not simulated) feedback from end users. The longer you wait and the more you elevate expectations the higher the bar is and the more invested you are in the initial design, which may not be as on-target as you thought while keeping it protected in its pre-release cocoon.

    Yes, I know that releasing something before it’s truly ready is just as bad, but some of these rumors around unreleased Apple products, like Apple Car, are reaching the third and fourth generation of their speculative product lifecycle. Maybe the pundits and rumor mills should start pushing “refurbished,” “reconditioned,” and “gently worn” rumors into the media streams for efficiency sake. Half-off sale on last year’s Apple  Glass rumors, while supplies last. 
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