Published: Wed, April 04, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

Apple snags Google's top AI executive

Apple snags Google's top AI executive

In yet another surprising turn of events, tech giant Apple has reportedly hired John Giannandrea, Google's senior VP of Engineering division who stepped down from his position as head of the Search and AI units only days ago. Prior to his 10 years at Google, Giannandrea was the chief technology officer at a startup called Metaweb, which was acquired by Google.

John Giannandrea has been awarded the title of "leader of machine learning and AI strategy" and he will be directly reporting to CEO Tim Cook.

Microsoft, Google and Amazon have already made huge technological advancements when it comes to artificial intelligence and Apple has been left behind. The hire is a big win for Apple and could help the company catch up to the artificial intelligence technology of its rivals.

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Giannandrea is seen as a linchpin in the swivelling of Google to be an AI first company, infusing intelligent responses into all aspects of the company's work from search results to photo organisation. The general conception of the Siri platform is that it remains behind the quality level of Google Assistant, which uses some of the same game-changing algorithms that power Google Translate and Google Image Search, and also lags behind Amazon's Alexa, the smart home industry leader. In an email message to staff that wound up in the hands of the New York Times, Cook said that Giannandrea "shares our commitment to privacy and our thoughtful approach", speaking on the company's thus far slow and cautious approach to expanding its AI programs. Recently, it opened up more than 150 positions in its Siri team and nabbed some of the top talents in the field, including Carnegie Mellon professor Russ Salakhutdinov, who was trained by Google Brain lab chief Geoffrey Hinton.

Experts Thinkum reported that Apple now plans to hire more than 142 specialists who will work on Siri.

But Apple's AI efforts have been limited by the company's strong stance on protecting the privacy of people who use its online services and devices.

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