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Apple Hires Google's Former AI Head John Giannandrea

05 April, 2018, 02:00 | Author: Arnold Gilbert
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Giannandrea, a machine learning expert who joined Google back in 2010, is a huge get for Apple, which has struggled for years to make progress in fast-moving and increasingly important AI fields like computer vision and natural language processing. However, a much clearer report emerged on Wednesday that he has been hired by Apple.

According to a report, Giannandrea announced on Tuesday that he was stepping down from his role at Google.

Giannandrea was a senior vice president at Google, where he was involved in the push to integrate AI throughout all Google products. In 2016, he was promoted again to lead Google search as well.

Giannandrea will be tasked with improving Siri, the iPhone's digital assistant that seems to have grown less popular as competitors create proprietary devices that parallel, if not more. The company is looking to hire over 150 people for its Siri team to catch up with the juggernauts.

"What I object to is this assumption that we will leap to some kind of super-intelligent system that will then make humans obsolete", he said. Giannandrea will focus on AI technology that supports Siri, while Federighi will likely still oversee the user-facing components.

Hiring the former Google exec has been called a massive victory for Apple.

Facebook and Google lead the AI technology, followed by Amazon and Microsoft. His company's work formed the basis of Google's Knowledge Graph, which brings up information at the top of search.

Siri's problems came to a head in February, when the HomePod - Apple's attempt to compete with Amazon's Echo and Google's Home smart speakers - received reviews which praised it for its audio quality even as they damned it for its poor AI.

Software and services are now critical - for Siri in particular - to the continued competitiveness of Apple's product lineup, including the iPhone. In fact, Google directly banned its employees from publishing any of their AI research.

On the other hand, Jeff Dean who co-founded Google Brain will be taking over Giannandrea's spot.

Apple has a very strict policy when it comes to the handling of personal data of its users. Engineers with AI expertise are in high demand at the Silicon Valley right now, sometimes fetching salaries exceeding eight figures.

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