John Giannandrea, Google's AI head, joins Apple

Eileen GuzmanApr 05, 2018

Apple (AAPL) aims to catch-up in artificial intelligence as it has hired away the former head of AI and search technology from Google-parent Alphabet (GOOGL). However, John's now leaving Google and has accepted a new position at Apple.

Apple has poached Google's AI chief, John Giannandrea, to run its machine learning and AI operations, in the clearest sign yet that the iPhone creator is attempting to fix the problems that saw its early lead in the field crumble.

Craig Federighi, a senior software executive at Apple, took over the Siri division past year.

Giannandrea joined Google in 2010 when it purchased Metaweb, a start-up where he served as chief technology officer.

Giannandrea has a long history in the artificial intelligence market. The company segregated Giannandrea's role into two individual units, AI and search, now lead by Jeff Dean and Ben Gomes respectively. Other recent high-profile appointments made by Apple in the space include Carnegie Mellon professor, Russ Salakhutdinov.

"Our technology must be infused with the values we all hold dear", Cook reportedly said in an email to staff members obtained by The New York Times. The feature was ultimately folded into Google Search as a way to deliver answers to questions users might input into the search box.

"What I object to is this assumption that we will leap to some kind of super-intelligent system that will then make humans obsolete", said Giannandrea.

Despite Siri's lagging developments, Apple has been bullish on its voice-based assistant, which was introduced to the public by Steve Jobs in 2011. In terms of quality, Apple Siri is way behind Google Assistant, which uses the same ground-breaking algorithms that power Google Translate and Google search image.

Currently, both Google and Facebook are powerhouses when talking about AI, followed by Amazon and Microsoft.

According to the industry experts, Apple's approach to data collection and user privacy, while commendable from an ideological standpoint, hamper its ability to keep pace with other Silicon Valley heavyweights. Last month, Alexa's head AI researcher Ashwin Ram left Amazon to join Google as technical director of AI.

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