Apple Drops OpenAI Board Observer Role Amid Regulatory Scrutiny

Apple will not take an observer role on OpenAI’s board as part of a deal to integrate ChatGPT into its devices, according to the Financial Times.

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Bloomberg last week reported that Apple Fellow and App Store chief Phil Schiller would to take the position as part of its agreement with OpenAI, which will see ChatGPT integrated into iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia.

A board observer is an informal board position where the participant is able to attend and contribute to board meetings, but is not allowed to vote and has no control.

However, FT today reported that both Apple and Microsoft have given up their seats as observers on the board, amid increased scrutiny by regulators of Big Tech’s investments in AI startups.

OpenAI will instead host regular meetings with partners as part of “a new approach to informing and engaging key strategic partners,” an OpenAI spokesperson said. The meetings will be held with Sarah Friar, the company’s chief financial officer.

The European Commission last month said it was exploring the possibility of an antitrust investigation into Microsoft and OpenAI’s partnership. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is also looking at investments made by companies including Microsoft, Amazon, and Google into generative AI start-ups.

Apple and OpenAI’s deal will see Siri able to hand complicated user requests over to ChatGPT with explicit user permission. OpenAI is not paying Apple to integrate ChatGPT in its operating systems, nor is Apple paying OpenAI. No money is being exchanged under the terms of the arrangement at the current time.

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