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Apple hiring more AI staff as Tim Cook hails ‘vibrant’ UK tech scene

Tim Cook said he believed regulation was ‘required’ when it came to the rise of generative AI (PA)
Tim Cook said he believed regulation was ‘required’ when it came to the rise of generative AI (PA) Tim Cook said he believed regulation was ‘required’ when it came to the rise of generative AI (PA)

Apple is hiring more staff in the UK to work on artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, chief executive Tim Cook has said on a visit to Britain, as he reiterated the tech giant’s commitment to investing in the “vibrant” UK tech economy.

The company revealed on Thursday that it now supports more than 550,000 jobs across the country through direct employment and other means, and has a new office in Cambridge where several hundred staff are working on AI, machine learning and other projects.

Asked if the current trend around artificial intelligence tech meant Apple would look to further its investment in that area in the UK, Mr Cook told the PA news agency: “We’re hiring in that area, yes, and so I do expect it (investment) to increase.

“AI is all over our products today – it’s behind the Fall Detection on the (Apple) Watch, it’s behind Crash Detection, it’s behind Afib (atrial fibrillation) detection, it’s behind the ECG, it’s predictive typing on iPhone… it’s literally everywhere on our products and of course we’re also researching generative AI as well, so yes we have a lot going on.”

Generative AI apps such as ChatGPT have become increasingly prominent in recent months as they have been both more powerful and accessible, with regulators around the world now more closely scrutinising the technology to evaluate its potential impact on human life – including the job market, creative industries and education, among other areas.

The UK will host its AI Safety Summit in November, an event Mr Cook said the tech giant was “looking at”, adding that he believed regulation was “required” when it came to the rise of generative AI.

The Apple boss was speaking on a visit to St Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Battersea, south-west London – close to the firm’s new UK headquarters at Battersea Power Station – where the company has partnered with the school as part of its Community Education Initiative, providing free coding and creativity resources to schoolchildren.

Earlier on Thursday the technology giant said it had spent nearly £16 billion with hundreds of companies of different sizes across the country over the last five years, and Mr Cook said the UK was “deeply embedded” within Apple.

“It’s our third largest employee population around the world from a country point of view. It’s also the leading developer community for Europe and it’s as vibrant as ever before, it’s dynamic,” he said.

“We have developers here working on great apps. We have developers here working on Vision Pro apps and so the developer community is really important to us and we have a huge user base here.

“We love serving the market – we’ve been here for 40 years, so it’s deeply embedded in us.”