Apple’s New OpenAI Deal Means Elon Musk May Ban Apple Devices at His Companies

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: Jun 11, 2024

Earlier this week, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, announced a new partnership with OpenAI to incorporate artificial intelligence into its operating systems.

Elon Musk, who co-founded OpenAI in 2015 but left shortly after, quickly threatened to ban Apple devices throughout his various companies: SpaceX, X (formerly known as Twitter) and Tesla. The dissatisfaction most likely stems from Musk wanting to promote his artificial intelligence company, xAI.

Musk Shares His Concerns of Security Violations

On Monday, after Apple’s announcement, Musk took to his social media platform X to share his thoughts on the integration.

Close-up of a person's hand holding a smartphone with the Twitter app open, displaying various tweets in the feed. The user's thumb is positioned over the screen

Source: Marten Bjork/Unsplash

He remarked that Apple’s addition of OpenAI tech to its systems was “an unacceptable security violation.” He then threatened that employees and visitors to his businesses would need to “check their Apple devices at the door, where they will be stored in a Faraday cage.”

History of Musk’s Issues With OpenAI

The conflict between Musk and OpenAI has been a long time in the making. In March of this year, Musk sued the company and its CEO, Sam Altman, claiming that the AI company violated its mission statement by prioritizing profits over humanity.

Two men on stage in front of a large black and white logo embrace

Source: @RadarHits/X

Musk, who is worth roughly $210 billion, continued his longtime feud with Altman over claims that the company broke an agreement to share its tech with the public. However, OpenAI signed onto a multi-billion dollar deal with Microsoft, essentially turning the tech into a completely for-profit business.

Tesla Founder Accused of Professional Jealousy

Altman quickly accused the Tesla CEO of jealousy. He thinks Musk regrets his earlier decision to part ways with OpenAI in 2018. At the time, Musk attempted to merge Tesla and OpenAI to create a doubly profitable company.

A photograph of a Tesla dealership, zoomed in on the company name

Source: Depositphotos

OpenAI’s executives responded to the lawsuit by claiming that Musk is professionally jealous that he lost out on profit and is currently struggling to fund his artificial intelligence project.

Concerns of Personal Data Protection With Added AI Integration

Musk isn’t the only person who has raised issues of privacy when using Apple devices integrated with artificial intelligence.

A man with grey hair and rectangle classes stands in front of a large white Apple logo wth a blue background

Source: @jaydenstech/X

However, the company asserts that user’s personal data will remain private. When using iOS 18 and macOS Sequoia, user’s have been assured that the AI system will not tap into personal data.

Could Musk Be Correct About Apple’s Data Risks?

During his lengthy rant on X, Musk accused Apple of having ” no clue what’s actually going on once they hand your data over to OpenAI. They’re selling you down the river.”

A close-up of an Apple logo on a building.

Source: Laurenz Heymann/Unsplash

In addition, he posits that Apple has the funds and resources to create its own artificial intelligence systems but plans to trust an outside company. He fears that Apple can’t be trusted to operate its own system, so it ultimately can’t know if user data is truly protected.


Hundreds of Thousands of Workers Could Be Affected

More than 100,000 workers across Tesla, SpaceX, and X alone could be affected by the Apple ban.

A large sign that reads "STARBASE" on the roof of a large building

Source: @spacesudoer/X

It’s unknown if Musk plans to force employees to replace their personal devices like phones and laptops or if his companies will fund the change.


Personal feuds have affected Elon's business in the past

This isn’t the first time that Musk has allowed interpersonal relationships to affect the profitability and functionality of his businesses.

A Tesla Supercharger station with multiple charging units and a white Tesla car connected to the charger, under a clear blue sky

Source: Getty Images

Earlier this year, Musk fired Tesla’s 500-person supercharger team over a disagreement with the sector’s lead, Rebecca Tinucci. After feeling the negative effects of the mass layoff, Musk agreed to hire back Tinucci and several team members.


Artificial Intelligence Lacks Ethics at Its Core

Artificial intelligence can indeed be used to both help and hinder humanity.

A black and silver laptop on a white table with a yellow cup and green plant behind it. The laptop screen is on and has a software program on.

Clément Hélardot/Unsplash

On an industrial level, AI can advance medical research and improve safety conditions. However, the tool also has several negative connotations. As Musk suggested, it can immediately log all information on a person’s phone. Further, AI can never replace a human’s moral or ethical compass.


Musk's AI Company Looking For Billions in Funding

After clashing with OpenAI founder Altman and leaving the company, Musk likely saw the commercial success possible with another new tech company.

Close-up of Elon Musk in a crowd at an outdoor event, looking slightly to the side with a serious expression, wearing a dark suit and a white shirt

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In July, he founded xAI, which has already raised more than $134 million in its first four months of operations. Documents obtained by the Securities and Exchange Commission filing show that the company is looking for an additional $865.3 million from investors with a minimum of $2 million to have a stake.


Limited Options of Musk Bans All Rival AI Devices

It’s unclear how far Musk will let his feud with rival AI companies go.

Elon Musk sitting down with his hands clasped in front of a microphone.

Source: Daniel Oberhaus/Wikimedia Commons

Google and Samsung have already integrated new AI features into Android devices, so employees who are disallowed from supporting competitors would have a difficult time choosing new tech.


No Word on How Musk’s AI Could Be More Ethical

Grok, the AI chatbot integrated into certain X user profiles, has allegedly been designed to “maximally benefit all of humanity.”

Elon Musk speaking to a person in 2023.

Source: UK Government/Wikimedia Commons

However, it has yet to be stated how Grok will ensure data protection or be used as a more ethical AI chatbot than the competitors.