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Last week, Apple released the worst advertisement in its long and previously illustrious history of brand creation, extension and promotion. Why? The ad stupidly and arrogantly says the quiet part out loud. It does not so much sell an iPad as evoke discomfort at just what artificial intelligence might do to all of us sentient beings.

In two words: Crush us.

In the advertisement, we see a malevolent force squeezing the life out of a trumpet, cans of paint, a camera lens, a guitar, a piano, a metronome, books, a sculpture, even a fun little kiddie creature whose eyes are literally popped out of its sockets.

And what is that force? A new iPad that happens to be thinner than the rest. Whoop-de-do.

Here is the kind of misstep that surely would have sent Apple founder Steve Jobs into a fury and is sufficient to suggest a company that, as it has aged and fattened up with profits, has forgotten its roots as a fantastic tool for left-brain humans.

Apple had always sold itself as a brilliantly curated collection of devices that humanized technology. In so doing, it revolutionized the creativity of architects, fashion designers, musicians, moviemakers and visual artists and empowered all those in any field who were intimidated by MS-DOS and code.

Instead of A drives and crucial colons, we got folders that looked like the ones on our messy desks. We removed files by throwing them in a friendly trash can. A familiar piece of fruit welcomed us to our work. Going to one of Apple's stores felt like going to a beautiful art gallery with precious works on display.

More importantly, Apple positioned itself as a subservient partner to human creativity. It offered tools to amplify what we did. It made our work better and yet didn't require credit. In return, the world has showered the company with affection, happily paying premium prices for its products, embracing its lucrative upgrades even though the old stuff was just fine and helping it achieve dominance in pretty much every field it has cared to enter.

How does it now see itself? The advertisement, titled "Crush," might just tell you all you need to know.

Apple's Bud Light moment, philosophically far worse, comes with terrible timing. Back in the Jobs era, Apple's brilliant founder knew that he had to ease the transition from the analog to the digital world, and he knew he had to appropriate its familiar nomenclature to remove customer intimidation. Over time, the comfort Apple offered became ubiquitous, even in early childhood.

What Apple and other tech companies are failing to appreciate is that we're actually in a moment comparable to that of the 1980s, when computing first entered people's homes.

The new world of AI is terrifying to many of us. We're fully aware that it is being trained by purloining content generated by people previously oblivious. We know it might come for our jobs one day. We worry what it will do to our children. Our fear is that it will morph from helper to dictator and, even worse, bring about some kind of new reality that's half-human and half-virtual, making it difficult for many of us to know the difference. Through all of this, we suspect, Silicon Valley will generate heaps of money while the rest of us end up in one of the trash cans in the corner of our screens.

Apple's marketers should be calming those fears, as should Google, Microsoft and the rest. They should be showing humility and insist that these are just tools while talking about safeguards, empowerment and community responsibility. What does Apple do instead? Come out with an ad that crushes each and every human creative tool, all in the service of getting you to upgrade to an iPad that happens to be thinner than the one already on your desk.

It's brutal to watch, and our response, frankly, was visceral.

Apple has apologized as all the bad publicity has rolled its way. At the time of writing, at least, its contrition doesn't strike us as even remotely adequate.

"We missed the mark," the company has said.

Missed the mark? You created something undermining everything for which your company has stood. Talk about the need to rebuild trust.

We'd like to see a few phones and iPads under that crusher.