Tim Cook: 'We Don't Buy' the Need to Give Up Privacy for AI

iOS-9-SiriDuring today's fourth quarter 2016 earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked about Siri, artificial intelligence, home assistants vs. mobile assistants, and balancing AI with security, which led to some interesting new insights into Siri's popularity and Apple's privacy stance.

According to Cook, Apple is now getting more than 2 billion Siri requests per week. "It's very large," he said, "and to the best of our knowledge, we've shipped more assistant enabled devices than anyone out there." He went on to highlight Apple's efforts to deliver a great Siri experience around the world. While most AI services are limited to the United States, Siri is available in many countries. "We put a lot of energy into that," Cook said.

Cook also said that he believes there's more value in having a phone with a personal assistant built in, like Siri, than a home device. "We live in a mobile society," he said. "People are constantly moving from home to work and to other things they may be doing. And so the advantage of having an assistant on your phone is that it's with you all the time." He went on to say that there's still a market for a home assistant like the Amazon Echo, but that usage on a phone "will likely be much greater."

On security, Cook said that Apple does not believe there's a need to compromise security for the sake of artificial intelligence.

In terms of the balance of privacy and AI, this is a long conversation, but at a high level, this is a false tradeoff. People would like you to believe you have to give up privacy to have AI do something for you, but we don't buy that. It might take more work, it might take more thinking, but I don't think we should throw our privacy away. It's sort of like the age old argument between privacy and security. You should have both. You shouldn't have to make a choice.

In the past, rumors have suggested that Apple's staunch dedication to privacy has held back the development of Siri. Apple is said to employ "policy czars" that make sure Apple services are not collecting customer data, something that has restricted the way Siri can be used.

Apple has, however, made some important steps forward with Siri in recent years through the use of machine learning and a neural network, advancements Cook highlighted earlier in the call. Just this year, Apple was able to open up Siri to third-party developers, and the company is said to be hard at work on some major improvements that will allow Siri to do more and to be built into products like a rumored Echo-like smart home device.

Top Rated Comments

enriquesh96 Avatar
82 months ago
Privacy is one of the reasons i stick with apple.
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
keysofanxiety Avatar
82 months ago
More mullarkey from Tim. Apple's privacy stance is precisely what's been holding Siri back from being useful in any meaningful way. I get far more accurate results with Google Now/Assistant & Amazon's Alexa than I ever have using Siri. At this point Siri is more of a hindrance than a useful tool.
Good. If that's the tradeoff, I'll take inherent privacy over a few more features when I choose to talk to my phone. Any day of the week.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
VMMan Avatar
82 months ago
Tim is right -- this time.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jerry16 Avatar
82 months ago
Siri is far from perfect, but I applaud Apple's hard line stance on privacy.

Keep it up Apple and I will keep spending my money with you. I believe privacy takes precedence over Siri and that in time, any trade offs being made between the two will be worked out.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Derekuda Avatar
82 months ago
LOL. Sure Tim! Siri is trash!

By the way, I would just like to point out how people get uptight about privacy, but then 5 minutes later post their entire life to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, etc.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kerrikins Avatar
82 months ago
More mullarkey from Tim. Apple's privacy stance is precisely what's been holding Siri back from being useful in any meaningful way. I get far more accurate results with Google Now/Assistant & Amazon's Alexa than I ever have using Siri. At this point Siri is more of a hindrance than a useful tool.
And customers like me thank him for it and stick with Apple because of it because we value our privacy more than a digital assistant.


They don't want to give up your privacy yet THEY receive 2 billion Siri requests every week!!

Nope, the only way for his statement to be true is for Apple to not receive a damn thing from you. And Siri will always be poorer too then it's competition. I would appreciate it relinquishing privacy for better services and more accuracy.

At this point Apples stupid comments about 'privacy' are nothing more then advertising soundbite gimmicks.
Google uses things like all the search and email data that they have, prior requests, contacts, basically everything that they can possibly pull and links it together (albeit 'anonymized') to provide the results they do. Apple doesn't do that. Maybe you're okay with blithely handing over everything about you for the profits of Google's coffers, but some of us aren't and I appreciate Apple being willing to give those of us in that camp an option. If they didn't then we'd have no options at all.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Multi Display CarPlay 1

Apple Launching All-New CarPlay Experience Later This Year With These 5 Features

Sunday January 29, 2023 10:15 am PST by
In June 2022, Apple previewed the next generation of CarPlay, promising deeper integration with vehicle functions like A/C and FM radio, support for multiple displays across the dashboard, personalization options, and more. Apple says the first vehicles with support for the next-generation CarPlay experience will be announced in late 2023, with committed automakers including Acura, Audi,...
iphone 15 pro wifi 6e

Internal Apple Document From Leaker 'Unknownz21' Confirms Wi-Fi 6E Will Be Limited to iPhone 15 Pro Models

Friday January 27, 2023 10:01 am PST by
Multiple rumors have suggested that the next-generation iPhone 15 models will adopt the Wi-Fi 6E standard that Apple has already introduced in the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro, and now a leaked document appears to confirm Apple's plans. Sourced from researcher and Apple leaker Unknownz21 (@URedditor), the document features diagrams of the iPhone 15's antenna architecture. D8x refers to the...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Pro Rumored to Have These 8 Features

Friday January 27, 2023 2:11 pm PST by
Apple's next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are expected to be announced in September as usual. Already, rumors suggest the devices will have at least eight exclusive features not available on the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. An overview of the eight features rumored to be exclusive to iPhone 15 Pro models:A17 chip: iPhone 15 Pro models will be equipped with an A17...
top stories 28jan2023

Top Stories: iOS 16.3 Released, iPhone 15 Pro Rumors, macOS Tips and Tricks, and More

Saturday January 28, 2023 6:00 am PST by
Following last week's hardware announcements, this week saw the actual release of several of the new products as well as operating system updates bringing new features and bug fixes across Apple's platforms. This week also saw some fresh rumors about the iPhone 15 lineup and Apple's upcoming AR/VR headset, while we shared some tips to help you get the most of your macOS experience, so read...
maxresdefault

Kuo: Apple to Release Foldable iPad With Carbon Fiber Kickstand in 2024

Monday January 30, 2023 12:55 am PST by
Apple will launch a foldable iPad with a carbon fiber kickstand sometime next year, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. In a series of tweets, Kuo said he expects an "all-new design foldable iPad" to be the next big product launch in the iPad lineup, with no other major iPad releases in the next nine to 12 months. The analyst said he...
Hero0013

Best Apple Deals of the Week: 2021 MacBook Pro Gets Massive $500 Markdowns as Samsung Discounts TVs and Memory Accessories

Friday January 27, 2023 11:07 am PST by
As we near the end of January, this week we saw a collection of deals on Apple's iPad Pro, iMac, and the 2021 MacBook Pro. Additionally, we're tracking new sales on TVs and memory accessories from Samsung. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. Samsung...