Apple has been tongue-in-cheek at its recent major event, where it unveiled a new headset and updates for all of its platforms in a span of more than two hours. But there was one particular word – or, more accurately, two initials – that wasn’t mentioned at all.
The company didn’t unveil a single AI-based product, and didn’t even mention artificial intelligence in passing. This was in marked contrast to other recent technology launches, where companies have attempted to tie a wide range of new products to the artificial intelligence hype.
Leading up to the event, many had speculated that Apple might be forced to discuss AI as the focus grows on how companies are using it in their products. For example, at Google’s recent I/O event, the word was widely used, apparently in response to criticism from pundits and shareholders that the company had failed to convince the world that it had done enough with artificial intelligence .
Apple instead chose to label most updates that could be labeled “AI” as “machine learning,” using a more precise term that has lost popularity as artificial intelligence has become so popular as a marketing term . But it seemed to avoid even using that phrase often, even when it could have happened.
It wasn’t for a lack of new features powered by tools that you could call AI, if that’s what Apple wanted. Everything was shown, from automated transcriptions of voice memos and voicemails to AirPods features that can detect noise in the environment and filter it out or not, depending on whether it seems urgent.
Describing them in any other way therefore seemed like a deliberate rejection of what has become a fashionable way of describing new features in tech in recent months.
Apple generally tends to prefer words of its own invention to new and much-vaunted terms in the technology industry. Also, throughout the launch event, the use of the word “Metaverse” was avoided, despite the launch of a product that specifically fits the new focus on virtual and augmented reality.
But the lack of mention of AI appeared to be the result of an even more active decision to dismiss the wording. In doing so, it seemed to reflect a growing concern that the widespread use of artificial intelligence as a marketing term serves both to dilute the meaning of the word and to confuse users about the actual nature of the product it is describing.
It could also be part of the growing perception that AI is not necessarily viewed positively and could reflect poorly on the products it is marketed with. There have been a number of reports in recent months about both the dangerous nature of AI products and the techniques used to make them, such as analyzing large amounts of data without the consent of the sitter, and so Apple may have decided to stop using it of the word possible can lead to negative connotations.