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

John Giannandrea who is the former head of search and artificial intelligence is falling in with Apple. This happened a day after he announced that he was stepping down from his office at Google.

Giannandrea, a machine learning expert joined Google back in 2010, will be a huge asset to Apple, that has fought for years to progress in fast-moving and increasingly important AI fields like computer vision and natural language processing. Our sources say that Giannandrea will report directly to CEO Tim Cook as leader of “machine learning and AI strategy.”

Facebook and Google and to a lower extent Amazon and Microsoft are a driving force in AI, employing researchers that help inform internal products and the entire AI research community. Apple before now has never had the resources or research talents to go about AI development with the same intensity as the aforementioned companies.

Apple’s Siri is lacking in AI sophistication. It trails behind the quality level of the Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa.

It was in December 2016 that Apple allowed its employees to publish research in AI, which is common among top-level AI researchers at Facebook and Google. It also took the company months to join an ethical AI research consortium co-founded by Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and IBM.  

With the coming of Giannandrea, Apple may be able to enrol top-level talent and improve its algorithms without violating its privacy stance. But since neural networks require large amounts of data to be trained on, the company is at a disadvantage as it only has access to publicly available assets.

And as for Google, veteran Jeff Dean will be taking Giannandrea’s place. He is known widely to be one of the most talented and trusted figures in AI research. Dean co-founded Google Brain, the research unit behind some of the field’s most notable advances since the past 10 years. He is now in charge of the entire Google AI unit, which has been separated out from the search team, with attention on how AI will be implemented into products and long-term research.

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