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Apple offers publishers millions to train AI on archives

Siri, Apple's main public-facing machine learning feature

Apple wants to license with content from news publishers to train generative AI systems, in multi-year deals to access content potentially valued to cost Apple tens of millions of dollars.

Apple is working on its own generative AI projects to maintain its position in the overall AI marketplace. To improve its work, those systems need content to learn from, something which Apple is allegedly trying to acquire.

According to sources of The New York Times on Friday, Apple has been in talks with a number of publishers, to secure access to their news archives. These allegedly include discussions of "multiyear deals worth at least $50 million" with major names in the publishing industry.

The list is said to include Conde Nast, the publisher of Vogue and The New Yorker among others. IAC, the organization behind People, Better Homes, and The Daily Beast, has also talked to Apple, as has NBC News.

While the talks could be lucrative for the publishers, the response has supposedly been mixed. Some executives were happy with the idea, especially since Apple asked for permission and offered to pay for access instead of scraping content.

In some instances, publishers were worried about potential legal issues that could arise from having their archives fed into a generative AI system. There is also trepidation over the possibility Apple's access could lead to the iPhone maker competing against the publishers in the future, and that Apple was "vague" about its future plans for the content beyond AI training.

Apple's attempts to keep up with the rest of the AI field has seen some surprising success. It has already implemented a lot of machine learning elements in iOS and other platforms, and on December 19, it published a paper on rapidly creating 3D avatars of humans from brief video clips.