Apple shareholders vote against request for AI transparency report


Apple Inc. shareholders have rejected a labor-backed demand for an artificial intelligence transparency report, which would have examined whether the company uses the technology ethically.

The proposal, submitted by AFL-CIO Equity Index Funds, was rejected in a preliminary count at Apple’s annual meeting on Wednesday. Shareholders also rejected measures regarding equal employment policies, civil liberties, race and gender pay gaps and human rights. They approved the list of members of the board of directors and the compensation plan for the company’s executives.

The AI ​​proposal urged Apple to disclose the ethical guidelines it follows when adopting the technology. Artificial intelligence raises “a number of social policy questions”, according to the justification for the measure. This includes whether it may result in biased decisions against employees or violate customer privacy. The statement also warns of the threat of automation-related layoffs.

The AFL-CIO’s investment arm is also lobbying other technology and media companies on the issue, including Walt Disney Co., Netflix Inc. and Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.

Surprisingly, the proposal was read by Apple store employee Michael Forsythe, who said that he and his colleagues were concerned about the company’s expansion into the field of artificial intelligence. Forsythe helped launch a union organizing drive at an Apple store in Oklahoma City.

Apple has been less open than its tech peers about its plans for generative AI – the technology behind chatbots like ChatGPT – but it has promised to discuss its plans later this year. This presentation could take place as early as June, when the company holds its annual developers conference.

Behind the scenes, Apple has been working to integrate generative AI into its software. Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, has directed his teams to develop as many new AI features as possible for this year’s operating system updates.

CEO Tim Cook’s salary has been a hot spot in recent years, as his annual compensation approached $100 million. But in 2023, it fell 36% to $63.2 million — largely due to smaller stock grants. His salary remains at $3 million. Cook’s 2024 stock grant target is $50 million, up from a target of $40 million.

Apple announced last month that two longtime directors would not run for reelection because they had reached an age threshold of 75: Al Gore, the former U.S. vice president, and James Bell, a former executive of Boeing Co. Yet another director, Ronald Sugar, is not leaving despite turning 76 later this year. Cook opened the meeting by thanking Gore and Bell.

Apple said Sugar remained “in consideration of recent significant transitions in board membership and the benefit of retaining directors who have developed a deep understanding of the company during their tenure.”

Former Aerospace Corp. CEO Wanda Austin joins the board of directors. It has long supported U.S. space exploration efforts — an area that has not been a major priority for Apple until now.

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