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

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Unusually, Apple is playing catch-up against other tech companies that have invested far more in AI research and implementation.

In an apparent attempt to give its voice assistant Siri a much-needed boost, Apple has hired Google's head of AI, John Giannandrea, to lead its AI and machine learning division. Dean is now head of the Google Brain, the company's research unit on AI and machine learning, and a well-known expert in the field itself.

Giannandrea stepped down from Google yesterday after years of heading up teams in a directive role, where he rarely got a chance to actually get his hands dirty.

Cook said in an email to his team members on Tuesday, "Our technology must be infused with the values we all hold dear".

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Whether or not making computers smarter and more personal means improving search features with AI remains to be seen.

Microsoft, Google and Amazon have already made huge technological advancements when it comes to artificial intelligence and Apple has been left behind. There are surely more applications of machine learning planned in the future; Giannandrea would likely spearhead those efforts. Google acquired Metaweb in 2010 and turned its technology into its Knowledge Graph, the blurbs of information provided as the result of a Google search whenever typing in a person, place, or thing. Apple's smart speaker - the Homepod - has received mixed reviews since its launch previous year, so Giannandrea's expertise is a major coup for the company. The Information reports that Giannandrea is remaining at the company to focus and return to AI research where he originally began at Google. "Therefore we ask that Project Maven be cancelled, and that Google draft, publicize and enforce a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology".

Apple can't afford to keep lagging behind in this space, especially now that it's asking even more of Siri with the HomePod. Apple, which pioneered smartphones and tablets, has lagged behind Inc., Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Microsoft AI.

Apple has always taken a very strong stance on privacy, but this isn't great for machine learning since neural networks require enormous amounts of data to improve.

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