Apple CEO calls for tech with security, humanity

This article is more than 12 months old

WUZHEN, CHINA Apple Inc. chief executive Tim Cook has called for future Internet and AI technologies to be infused with privacy, security and humanity.

Mr Cook made the comments yesterday at the opening ceremony for China's World Internet Conference - an event designed to globally promote the country's vision of a more censored and controlled Internet.

It is his second Chinese appearance in two months, having met President Xi Jinping in October.

"The theme of this conference - developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits ­- is a vision we at Apple share," Mr Cook said.

"We are proud to have worked alongside many of our partners in China to help build a community that will join a common future in cyberspace."

His comments come at a pivotal point for Apple's future in China, which is its biggest market outside of North America.

It relies on the sale of hardware and services in the country to propel revenue and profit growth.

But the efforts required to stay in China's good graces are causing tensions with civil libertarians and politicians at home.

Apple today helps to support more than 5 million jobs in China, including 1.8 million local mobile app developers, Mr Cook added.

The company has come under fire for cooperating with Chinese authorities in removing apps that give users there uncensored communications.

In November, Apple complied with government orders to pull Microsoft's Skype phone and video service from the Chinese version of its popular app store.

Mr Cook used an earnings call with investors to justify such moves, saying it obeyed the laws of the markets where it operates.

"Much has been said of the potential downsides of AI, but I don't worry about machines thinking like humans. I worry about people thinking like machines," he said. "We all have to work to infuse technology with humanity, with our values."