Roundup: Apple delivers an insult to life itself

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Roundup: Apple delivers an insult to life itself
Screenshot: YouTube/Apple

Despite some hype by Apple fans in the media (especially Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman), Apple’s iPad event was more of the same — you might even say it was a dud. The iPad Air has a bigger screen, the iPad Pro has a chip that isn’t even in a Mac yet (telling any prospective Mac buyer to hold off even longer), and the vision of the iPad as a laptop replacement continues as a delusion among only the company’s top management.

The biggest thing to come out of the event wasn’t even one of the products, but an ad that was supposed to introduce the new iPad Pro to the world. In the video, a hydraulic press crushes the tools and products of human creativity, including everything from a trombone and piano to a sculpture and set of paints. The camera lingers on the objects to indulge in the moment of destruction. Everything must be obliterated for the press to rise again and show a gleaming black rectangle.

The idea of the ad is clear: all those creative tools can now be found in a ridiculously expensive device that just got a little thinner. But the execution shows how detached Apple leadership and PR has become that they couldn’t see the scandal in front of their eyes. At a time when generative AI is threatening to replace artists with poor imitations of their own work, people are particularly sensitive to the topic.

Apple has long positioned itself as a friend to artists, but as it signals it will be going hard on generative AI next month, the ad suggested the company has turned its back on that key constituency — and its decision makers couldn’t even see it. As the scandal broke, I could only think of a clip of Hayao Miyazaki that’s been making the rounds again the past couple years, where after seeing a terrible AI demo, he declares it “an insult to life itself.” Apple’s now succeeded in doing the same.

There’s plenty more about Apple in the roundup this week, particularly some stories about its union busting and poor treatment of workers. Beyond that, there are more recommended reads, labor updates, and other news you might have missed in this edition!

Over on Tech Won’t Save Us, I spoke with Ed Niedermeyer to dig into all the news coming out of Tesla lately: the cancellation of the Model 2, the doubling down on robotaxis, and the mass layoffs. It’s an important conversation where Ed explains the structural factors that made Tesla look like it was doing much better than it actually was these past couple years.

I was in Linz, Austria this week to speak at the Art Meets Radical Openness festival. I believe there will be a video of it at some point, so I’ll share it when I have it. If you’re in Copenhagen, I’ll be speaking there on May 22 and 23, then in Berlin on May 27.

Have a great week!