I generally don't agree with Federico Viticci's post at MacStories about Apple's AI Foundation Models and Applebot Web Scraping:

This blog post, however, pretty much parallels my reaction to the WWDC keynote. Everything was fun and cool until they showed generative image creation that spits out slop “resembling” (strong word) other people; and in this post, everything was cool until they mentioned how – surprise!Applebot had already indexed web content to train their model without publishers’ consent, who can only opt out now. (This was also confirmed by Apple executives elsewhere.)

As a creator and website owner, I guess that these things will never sit right with me. Why should we accept that certain data sets require a licensing fee but anything that is found “on the open web” can be mindlessly scraped, parsed, and regurgitated by an AI?

Perhaps I'm a weirdo but I actually thought the images Apple shared in the presentation on Image Playground were pretty adorable even the one being referred to as SLOP. Ostensibly an image of a mom in a cape, to my eyes it looked like it could have been clipped out of a Pixar movie. I honestly don't know why so many people seemed to have had such a negative reaction to it.

But, back to Viticci, in a recent podcast episode he made a point of stating that when they need images for MacStories they pay an artist/designer rather than use AI generated images. Well, okay, that's great, but he runs a successful, for-profit website.

But, and I would think this is obvious, there are a lot of use cases out in the world where people who are not publishing for-profit websites could use images like this. The possible use cases are limitless. In the WWDC keynote they show a young woman making an image as a dinner party invite to share with friends via Messages.

At no point during the Image Playground portion of the presentation did it get the impression that Apple intended this app to be used by publishers like MacStories. It's for students doing reports or even just for school notes. It's more along the lines of Bitmoji or a Freeform Memoji. It's for my granny to easily make cute cats on her iPad.

Frankly, I'm just going to ask it this way: What is wrong with this joyless, cynical community of Apple users? How do people not see how a feature/app like Image Playground is for nonartists to have a bit of fun? Does everything have to be so serious? Many of these same people sometimes complain that they miss the whimsy of past Apple's offerings. Hey, this is it, right here. This is Apple offering delight and whimsy, stop with your bullshit.

As for the Applebot web scraping, I don't understand the problem. Maybe I don't understand the process but it seems like Apple and others are using the web to create/train the models that are meant to function as intelligent assistants that have learned to "think" from the billions of pages they have digested.

Viticci has stated that MacStories will be disallowing Apple from scraping content from MacStories in the future, I'm guessing that as he is taking such a public, ethical stance against Apple using his site and the web to train its models he will abstain from using all the features they are offering based on that training?

Certainly there are plenty of issues around AI that have surfaced in the past two to three years of development. Unauthorised scraping of content is one of them. But the tech community, especially those on the Apple side, rarely express concerns about the significant increase of energy consumption.

Unlike others in big tech, Apple has been consistent in its climate goals and commitments and has met many of them. Many of these new features will rely users' local devices and those that don't will connect to Apple's custom servers. That portion of the new offering seems likely to be more aligned with achieving climate goals. Not suprisngly this was not mentioned by Viticci and has barely been mentioned in any of the discussion around Apple's WWDC AI announcements.

On a very serious downside, Apple will also be adding many millions of new users of ChatGBT via Siri's option to use that service. Of all the concerns swirling around the various AI offerings, the extra energy use and carbon being dumped into the atmosphere should be one that is actively discussed and yet I rarely see Apple pundits bring it up. Why is that?