Steve Jobs predicted Apple Intelligence in 1985

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The generative AI revolution began long before ChatGPT made its debut in November 2022. Computer science researchers and science fiction authors alike have been imagining the potential of thinking, sentient computers since the days of literally bug-busting mainframes. Apple’s visionary co-founder Steve Jobs was equally enamored of that ideal, as he describes in this video recording from 1985, nearly 40 years ago.

When Steve Jobs was able to predict generative AI several decades later! #God level

— Vijay Shekhar Sharma (@vijayshekhar) September 16, 2023

In the video above, which has re-emerged on X (formerly Twitter), Jobs reveals for the first time his minor jealousy of Alexander the Great for having been tutored by the legendary philosopher Aristotle. “I think I would have enjoyed it a lot,” he joked, but “thanks to the miracle of the printed page, at least I can read what Aristotle wrote without an intermediary.” But even with access to Aristotle’s writings, Jobs noted that he couldn’t really ask the philosopher any questions and expect an answer.

“My hope is that in our lifetimes,” Jobs continued, “we can create a tool of a new kind, an interactive client… When the next Aristotle is alive, we will be able to capture that Aristotle’s underlying worldview on a computer. And someday a student will be able to not only read the words Aristotle wrote, but also ask Aristotle a question and get an answer.”

Sadly, Steve Jobs lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in 2011, a decade before ChatGPT debuted. However, the company he created continues to pursue his vision of interactive computing and plans to launch its Apple Intelligence service later this summer, coinciding with the release of iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sierra.

“This is a moment we’ve been working toward for a long time,” said Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, at WWDC 2024. “Apple Intelligence is the personal intelligence system that puts powerful generative models at the heart of your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It draws on your personal context to give you intelligence.”

The generalized AI agent will let users streamline any number of everyday tasks, from helping write, edit, and refine text in Mail, Notes, Safari, and Pages to quickly generating AI-generated images. It will also reportedly be able to summarize the content of confusing email chains and find photos of specific groups and individuals within the camera roll using written prompts, among a host of additional features. Whether some of its more advanced features will be hidden behind paywalls remains to be seen.

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