Artificial Intelligence

Apple Poaches Google’s AI Chief As It Aims To Beef Up Its Offering

Apple, aiming to catch up in the artificial intelligence front, has poached Google’s John Giannandrea, chief of search and AI, in what is seen as a major win for its AI efforts.

The New York Times, citing Apple, said Giannandrea will report to Apple’s Chief Executive Tim Cook and will run the company’s machine learning and AI efforts. With Apple seen as behind its rivals in AI, the Giannandrea hire is viewed as a major win for the Cupertino, California iPhone maker, noted The New York Times.  “Our technology must be infused with the values we all hold dear,” Cook said in an email to staff members that The New York Times was able to obtain. “John shares our commitment to privacy and our thoughtful approach as we make computers even smarter and more personal.”

Apple has been working to improve Siri, its voice-activated virtual assistant, which has faced criticism that it doesn't do as much as rival digital assistants from Google and Amazon. Amazon has had huge successes with Alexa, the voice-activated digital assistant found in its line of Echo smart speakers. Google has its Google Home assistant that is also growing in popularity. Giannandrea is best known at Google for leading the movement to build AI into Google products such as Internet search, Gmail and Google Assistant, its digital assistant, noted the NYT.   The paper noted that engineers that have AI experience are in high demand in Silicon Valley, commanding huge salaries. Apple previously hired Carnegie Mellon professor Russ Salakhutdinov, another heavy hitter in the AI space, reported the NYT.

In addition, to bring in powerful names in the AI industry, the company has been picking up the pace in terms of hiring for roles focused on Siri. Cult Of Mac, citing Thinkum, a research firm, reported Apple wants to hire 142 new employees for Siri-related jobs. Thinkum also found that the number of job openings for roles that have to do with Siri has been increasing on a steady basis since last July. That is when the HomePod launched to criticism that Siri wasn’t that hot of a feature in the high-end voice-activated speaker, reported Cult Of Mac.

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