Apple To Gain Observer Role On OpenAI’s Board – Report

OpenAI artificial intelligence ChatGPT

Apple executive Phil Schiller reportedly will have observer role on OpenAI’s board as part of landmark AI agreement

Apple’s relationship with OpenAI could become even closer, amid a media report that a senior Apple executive may be appointed to the AI pioneer’s board of directors.

Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the situation, reported that Phil Schiller, Apple’s former marketing chief, is gain an observer role on OpenAI’s board.

This observer position would match that of Microsoft, which has invested of up to $13 billion (£10bn) into OpenAI over the years – an investment that has peaked the interest of antitrust regulators.

chatgpt, smartphone, ai, artificial intelligence, chatbot
Image credit: Matheus Bertelli/Pexels

Apple, OpenAI partnership

For some time Apple’s AI ambitions were not disclosed by the notoriously secretive company.

That changed in June 2024, when Apple at its annual WWDC developer conference, revealed that it would bring OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot to its devices including iPads, iPhones, Vision Pro headsets and Macs later this year.

Apple also said at the time that it would integrate what it termed ‘Apple Intelligence’ across its apps and devices, for instance enabling its Siri digital assistant, to control apps, rewrite emails and summarise notifications.

For actions that require server capabilities, the processing will be done on Apple Silicon-based servers in what Apple had called Private Cloud Compute systems, where the data will not be shared with third-parties or with Apple itself.

For capabilities Apple’s own systems can’t handle, the task will be sent to ChatGPT, although the user will be asked for permission first.

Apple said last month that other chatbots would be supported later.

Observer role

Now Bloomberg, citing people familiar will the situation, has reported that Phil Schiller has been chosen for the observer position on OpenAI’s board.

As a board observer, Schiller won’t be serving as a full-fledged director, the people were quoted as saying.

Apple Fellow Phil Schiller.
Image credit Apple

The board appointment will take effect later this year, and Schiller has not yet attended any OpenAI board meetings.

Bloomberg noted that an observer can attend board meetings without being able to vote or exercise other powers that directors usually have. Observers, however, do gain insights into how decisions are made at the company.

OpenAI said in March it was appointing new directors to the board, including CEO Sam Altman, Sue Desmond-Hellmann (a former CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), Nicole Seligman (a former president of Sony Entertainment), and Fidji Simo (CEO of Instacart).

The new board of director at OpenAI had replaced the previous non-profit board, which had been dissolved following the shock firing of Sam Altman in November 2023, and his rapid reinstatement.

Image credit: Sam Altman/X
Image credit: Sam Altman/X