Apple hires Google’s former AI boss to help improve Siri

John Giannandrea, Google's former head of search and artificial intelligence, joins Apple. The contract, first reported by The New York Times comes a day after the executive announced he was leaving his position at Google, a surprise move in the midst of a broader executive reorganization that now has much more sense in hindsight

Giannandrea, an expert in machine learning who joined Google in 2010, is a great achievement for Apple, which has struggled for years to progress in fields of artificial intelligence increasingly important as artificial vision and language processing natural. Giannandrea will directly inform CEO Tim Cook as leader of "machine learning and AI strategy", according to Times .

Both Facebook and Google, and to a lesser extent Amazon and Microsoft, are powers of artificial intelligence, which employ hundreds of researchers working in different domains who usually publish substantive documents that help inform internal products and the collective research community of AI in large. Apple, although it helped define the initial market for voice-based digital assistants with Siri, has not had access to the data or the talent and resources to investigate AI development with the same level of intensity as its rivals. .

Siri is still the target of innumerable jokes about the lack of sophistication of AI. The overall conception of the Siri platform is that it remains behind the quality level of the Google Assistant, which uses some of the same game-changing algorithms that drive Google Translate and Google Image Search, and also lags behind Alexa, leader of the Amazon home industry. .

It was not until December 2016 that Apple even allowed its own employees to publish research on AI, a practice common even among the most important artificial intelligence researchers at Facebook and Google. It also took the company many months to join an ethical research consortium in artificial intelligence co-founded by Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and IBM. Industry insiders say that Apple's approach to data collection and user privacy, while commendable from an idealistic point of view, hinders its ability to keep up with other Silicon Valley heavyweights.

However, with Giannandrea, Apple could recruit more – talent level and improve its algorithms, a feat that the company has said for a long time that it wants to achieve without violating its position on privacy. However, because neural networks, the backbone of deep learning techniques for developing self-improvement software, require large amounts of data to be trained, Apple is necessarily at a disadvantage because it only has access to publicly available sets. Facebook and Google, on the other hand, operate large-scale data collection operations with billions of users around the world.

For Google, the loss of Giannandrea probably will not have a big impact on their AI efforts. Taking Giannandrea's place is Google veteran Jeff Dean, widely regarded as one of the most talented and reliable figures in AI research. Dean was co-founder of Google Brain, the research unit that is behind some of the most significant advances of the last 10 years. He is now in charge of the entire Google IA unit, which has been separated from the search team, focusing on how the AI ​​will be implemented in the products and in the long-term research. Facebook recently enacted a similar executive reorganization to better align its AI research and apply IA product teams under a single executive.

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