OpenAI, the leading artificial intelligence research lab, is in talks with former Apple designer Sir Jony Ive and SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son to develop a consumer product that could be dubbed the “iPhone of artificial intelligence.” The venture is expected to receive over $1 billion in funding from SoftBank.
Sam Altman, OpenAI’s chief, has enlisted Ive’s company LoveFrom to collaborate on creating OpenAI’s first consumer device. The two visionaries have been conducting brainstorming sessions to explore how AI technology can be incorporated into a new consumer product, much like the iPhone revolutionized touchscreen computing and unleashed the potential of the mobile internet.
The collaboration is focused on creating a more intuitive and natural user experience for interacting with AI. Discussions have also involved Son, the founder and CEO of SoftBank, who envisions a central role for Arm, the chip designer in which SoftBank holds a 90% stake. SoftBank is prepared to invest more than $1 billion in the venture.
While the discussions are said to be serious, no formal deal has been reached yet, and it may take several months before an official announcement is made. Moreover, launching a hardware product resulting from this collaboration is a long-term goal that could take years to bring to market.
OpenAI, SoftBank, and LoveFrom have declined to comment on the matter. However, it is worth noting that Ive played a crucial role in the creation of the first iPhone, which radically transformed personal computing when it was launched in 2007.
The smartphone market is currently reaching a plateau, leading technology enthusiasts to speculate about what the next groundbreaking consumer electronics device might be. Virtual reality headsets and smart speakers have shown potential, but nothing has come close to rivaling the smartphone’s ubiquity and indispensability to billions of people worldwide.
One of the driving forces behind the collaboration with OpenAI is Ive’s concern about the addictive nature of smartphone usage. In a 2018 interview with the Financial Times, he expressed Apple’s “moral responsibility” to address the unintended consequences of the iPhone, such as addictive apps. Ive has been actively limiting his children’s screen time.
The partnership with OpenAI offers the opportunity to develop a new way of interacting with computers that is less reliant on screens. This aligns with Ive’s vision of mitigating the negative impacts of excessive screen time and creating more meaningful human-computer interactions.
OpenAI recently announced significant upgrades to its chatbot, ChatGPT, which now features voice control, image uploading capabilities, and web-browsing capabilities. The company’s value is also on the rise, with reports suggesting that OpenAI is considering a share sale that could value the company at up to $90 billion, triple its valuation from just a year ago.
Overall, the collaboration between OpenAI, Sir Jony Ive, and SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son holds great promise for the development of a consumer device that could revolutionize the user experience with artificial intelligence. While details are still being worked out, this venture has the potential to reshape the way we interact with technology and pave the way for the next generation of consumer electronics.