Apple has made a major move towards dramatically improving its artificial intelligence efforts.The New York Times reported on Tuesday that it has hired Google's former search and artificial intelligence chief John Giannandrea. As for his contributions at Google, when Giannandrea inherited his role at Google Inc from Amit Singhal in early 2016, it was a signal of the tech giant emphasizing on weaving machine learning along with artificial intelligence into its most important product i.e. the "search".
"[He's] always on the leading edge; [I] always learn new things when I talk to him", Andreessen continued, adding at the time of Giannandrea's ascension to head of search, it was "great news for Google". In a letter to employees, Mr. Cook said that Mr. Giannandrea shared Apple's commitment to privacy and "our thoughtful approach" to machine learning.
At Google, Mr. Giannandrea helped lead the push to integrate AI throughout Google products including internet search, Gmail and the Google Assistant.
Google's AI bench is deep, so the loss of Giannandrea, while significant, is probably not devastating. This will likely by the strategy Apple uses to get itself back into the AI game, having led with the launch of Siri back in 2011 but since found itself overtaken by rivals Amazon and Google with Alexa and Google Assistant respectively.
"Our technology must be infused with the values we all hold dear", Cook was quoted as saying.
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Craig Federighi, a senior software executive at Apple, took over the Siri division past year. Apple's smart speaker - the Homepod - has received mixed reviews since its launch a year ago, so Giannandrea's expertise is a major coup for the company.
Users have often spoken of what they view as Siri's inferior quality when compared to Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa. That means your personal interactions with Siri stay on your phone and any data Apple collects is mixed with randomised "noise" that makes individual information anonymous and untraceable.
Apple has taken a strong stance on protecting the privacy of people who use its devices and online services, which could put it at a disadvantage when building services using neural networks, according to The Times.
Even with Apple's newfound focus on AI, Giannandrea may find his job is harder than it was at Google.