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Internal Apple AI 'Ask' tool being tested by employees

Apple is working on AI tools

Apple is reportedly testing an AI tool called "Ask" for AppleCare support advisors that generate answers using data learned from an internal database.

Apple's push into AI isn't a secret, as its CEO has even shared his excitement for what's coming later in 2024. Even though nothing has been announced, the company is likely working on and testing many tools that rely on generative models similar to how ChatGPT operates.

According to a report from MacRumors based on obtained information on the project, Apple launched a pilot program that provides select AppleCare support advisers an AI tool called "Ask." It is a tool that automatically generates responses to technical questions based on information from Apple's internal database.

Unlike a simple search tool, which returns the same results every time based on relevance, the "Ask" program generates an answer based on specifics mentioned in the query, like device type or operating system. Advisors can mark these answers as "helpful" or "unhelpful."

Hallucinations are an issue with generative language models, which is a nice way of saying that chatbots tend to make things up with high confidence. The "Ask" tool attempts to avoid this behavior by being trained only on its internal database with additional checks that ensure responses are "factual, traceable, and useful."

The internal tool will allegedly be made available to more advisors in the future after feedback is collected.

There's a good chance this leaked "Ask" tool either is or is based on the previously leaked "Ajax." It is an internal tool that some allegedly referred to as "AppleGPT."

What is this AI stuff anyway

From this leak, it isn't clear if Apple is referring to the "Ask" tool as "AI," but the signs are there. The leaked information wouldn't use language like "generate" or "factual" if it was a generic search and fetch tool.

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Until a recent fad chose to call it a more sexy-sounding "Artificial Intelligence," much of the technology involved in modern AI was called machine learning. Apple's marketing team hasn't had a chance to name its technologies yet, so there's a chance Apple will pull a "spatial computing" and provide another name entirely.

Whatever it's called, these tools, like ChatGPT, rely on having access to a database of information to generate an answer using what can be described as next-word predictions. It finds a pattern in the database and decides what the next logical word might be to answer a query.

Of course, that's an oversimplification.

Apple is no stranger to ML or AI. The touch keyboard has always relied on an algorithm to predict what letter a user will press in a certain space. Today, that same keyboard uses a transformer language model for autocorrect.

Rumors are piling up around Apple's push into AI and what it might mean for iOS 18. We'll all have to wait until WWDC in June to find out.