Apple poaches Google’s former head of search and AI
Apple has hired John Giannandrea, the artificial intelligence (AI) expert who just a day earlier stepped down from his leadership role at Google, the New York Times reported.
As such, Apple’s AI segment will receive a big boost as the Search engine giant’s AI veteran joins the iPhone maker. Giannandrea joined Google in 2010 after it acquired the search start-up Metaweb, where he had served as chief technology officer. and was in-charge of the company’s search and AI units.
According to the report in NYT, Apple confirmed that Giannandrea will run the company’s “machine learning and AI strategy,” and will supposedly report directly to the company boss Tim Cook. “Our technology must be infused with the values we all hold dear,” Cook’s email to his employees and obtained by The New York Times reveals. “John shares our commitment to privacy and our thoughtful approach as we make computers even smarter and more personal.”
Analysts say that AI features such as Siri were first introduced on the iPhone 4S in 2011. But since then the Cupertino, California-based tech major has lagged behind offerings from AI focussed rivals such as Google and Amazon. AI proponents have criticised Apple for its secrecy and strong views on user data seen as a major hurdle to artificial intelligence.
The New York Times's report acknowledges, "The hire is a victory for Apple, which many Silicon Valley executives and analysts view as lagging its peers in artificial intelligence, an increasingly crucial technology for companies that enable computers to handle more complex tasks, like understanding voice commands or identifying people in images."
Meanwhile, Giannandrea is expected to play a leading role in Apple’s self-driving car efforts, an initiative that Tim Cook previously categorised as the “mother of all AI projects.”