Apple’s ideal self
My iPhone and Apple Watch aren’t just a measure of my fitness (tracking my workouts, counting calories), they’re a comprehensive measure of who I am as a person. They can define not only my active life, but also my spiritual life. You can scroll through my own definition of the Apple brand. In the end, you can become your ideal Apple self.
On the surface, it’s helpful to know that I often value days when I’m active and get enough sleep (although the AI doesn’t need to know that). But as researchers, I know that there are limits to what we can learn from the data, based on the measures we use and our biases as interpreters.
I wonder how the average Apple user will interpret this data and whether it will lead them to shape their lives to arrive at a graph they deem desirable.
The late philosopher Ian Hacking describes the loop effect between people and the labels given to them. Looping effects are noticeable in the algorithm-driven software we use. Researchers found that when people began to trust the insights AI derived from the feedback they were given, their TikTok feeds became more reflective of their self-concept.
However, TikTok’s algorithm is not a blank slate in creating a self-concept. These are designed to classify people into marketing categories and sell them to advertisers.
In an interview with Time, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “Apple’s greatest contribution to humanity is improving human health and well-being.”
Apple is a company of ideals. Compared to traditional computer marketing that emphasizes performance specifications, Apple pioneered selling computers by promoting the kind of user you can be with a Mac. This was the purpose behind the Think Different campaign.
Even when Apple discusses the technical details of its computer’s performance, its flashy visuals and vague language make it difficult to accurately evaluate its products compared to its competitors. .
The message is clear. Apple users aren’t just people who own technology; they’re cool, creative, colorful, and unique people. They are now healthy and well-adjusted.
However, a company’s mission can be empty because it inherently exists to increase profits. Apple’s success as a company comes from its ability to own its consumers.
The hermetic ecosystem makes users dependent on Apple for all their digital needs. By integrating health into its ecosystem, those users may become dependent on Apple for their health as well.
I don’t know what would happen if they incorporated who they are as an Apple into their self-concept, but it might make them better consumers and more productive employees. Ultimately, this is the goal of corporate mental health.
It’s not clear that iOS 17 is the medical revolution Apple hopes to be, in the same way that a spa day or a five-minute yoga break can improve your mental health.
Owen Chevalier is a doctoral student in the Department of Philosophy at Western University. This commentary was first published in The Conversation.