Apple to Utilize ‘Confidential Computing’ for Enhanced User Privacy in AI Processing

May 30, 2024 – Apple is set to unveil its artificial intelligence strategy at the upcoming WWDC conference, which will be integrated as part of the iOS 18 and other operating system updates. According to previous reports from Bloomberg, the tech giant plans to adopt a hybrid approach that combines on-device and server-side processing to deliver AI functionality.

However, the shift in processing user data to Apple’s servers has raised privacy concerns, especially given the company’s long-standing emphasis on on-device processing. The Information reports that Apple may have found a solution that offers powerful AI processing capabilities in the cloud while maintaining strict privacy standards.

The publication claims that Apple intends to utilize “confidential computing” technology, enabling a “black box” approach to data processing. Typically, cloud services encrypt data only when it’s stored on disks. But to process or transform the data on servers, it needs to be decrypted into memory.

Interestingly, Apple has reportedly discovered a method to keep user data private throughout the entire processing phase. This approach resembles the industry term “confidential computing,” also known as “trusted computing,” where data remains confidential during processing.

For the past three years, Apple has been working on a secret project internally called “Apple Chips in Data Center” (ACDC). This AI chip is expected to facilitate the “black box” computing method for Apple.

While there’s still a potential vulnerability if hackers gain physical access to Apple’s server hardware, this new system is considerably more secure than what other tech giants offer in the AI space. It’s so secure that Apple could honestly claim inability to access relevant information or provide any user data in the face of law enforcement subpoenas or government investigations.

Nevertheless, the specifics of how this technology operates remain unclear. It’s unknown how Apple can maintain the effectiveness of its security model when a single chip within a data center handles requests from multiple users simultaneously.

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