If you haven’t read any of the stories about Apple CEO Tim Cook’s speech in Brussels yesterday, they’re worth a look. Cook outlined Apple’s views on digital privacy, and while (of course!) he didn’t name Google or Facebook, it was very clear which companies he was thinking about.
“Our own information — from the everyday to the deeply personal — is being weaponized against us with military efficiency. These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded and sold,” said Cook. “Taken to the extreme this process creates an enduring digital profile and lets companies know you better than you may know yourself. Your profile is a bunch of algorithms that serve up increasingly extreme content, pounding our harmless preferences into harm… We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance.”
As a company whose business is based on hardware and services sales rather than advertising, Apple can (and does) take a strong approach on privacy, giving Cook the ability to call for safeguards and policies that will have a bigger impact on those big-tech rivals.
On artificial intelligence, for example. “For artificial intelligence to be truly smart it must respect human values — including privacy. If we get this wrong, the dangers are profound,” he said. “We can achieve both great artificial intelligence and great privacy standards. It is not only a possibility — it is a responsibility.”