Apple’s former chief design officer, Jony Ive, is reportedly in discussions with OpenAI to build the “iPhone of artificial intelligence,” aided by over $1 billion in funding from Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son. According to a new report by the Financial Times, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman is looking to use Ive’s design firm LoveFrom to develop OpenAI’s first consumer device, with the duo having discussed what such a product would look like during brainstorming sessions at Ive’s San Francisco studio. News of the venture was first reported by The Information on Tuesday.
According to three people familiar with the plan, Ive and Altman are aiming to create a device that provides a “more natural and intuitive user experience” to interact with artificial intelligence. The duo have taken inspiration from how the touchscreen technology on the original iPhone helped revolutionize our interaction with the mobile internet. Son is offering funding for the effort, and has reportedly pushed for chip design company Arm (which Son holds a 90 percent stake in) to play a central role.
Ive has previously expressed concerns about compulsive behavior related to smartphone usage
While Ive played a pivotal role in the creation of the first iPhone, the former Apple designer has previously expressed concerns about smartphones causing compulsive behavior. In an interview with the Financial Times in 2018, Ive said that Apple had a “moral responsibility” to mitigate the addictive nature of its technology, and that tech companies should try and predict as many unintended consequences as possible when designing new products.
According to the Financial Times’ sources, the project with OpenAI could allow Ive to help create an interactive computing device that’s less reliant on screens. Altman already has some experience with this thanks to his investments in Humane — a hardware and software startup co-founded by ex-Apple employees — which is developing a screenless wearable AI device that’s designed to replace smartphones.
The Altman, Ive, and Son project is still in its early stages and several different ideas for the device are still being considered. While no deal has been confirmed and details surrounding the project are slim, the discussions are said to be “serious.”