Apple Snags Former Google AI Chief To Make Siri Smarter And More Powerful

Apple has made a crucial hire away from with John Giannandrea, who previously served as the search at Google. Giannandrea and Google announced early this week that he was stepping down from his role, but exactly where Giannandrea was going was unknown at the time.

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Giannandrea will be the head of Apple machine learning and AI strategy and will report directly to Tim Cook. Cook wrote in an email to Apple staff that was obtained by the NYT, "Our technology must be infused with the values we all hold dear. John shares our commitment to privacy and our thoughtful approach as we make computers even smarter and more personal."

Apple has a very strict policy when it comes to the handling of personal data of its users. Sometimes that data protection policy is at odds with developing AI, because AI training requires vast amounts of data. Some believed that top AI talent was avoiding Apple because of that data protection policy. The hiring of Giannandrea shows that top talent is willing to work for Apple and many see the hire as a big win for Cupertino.

Giannandrea joined the search giant in 2010 when Google acquired Metaweb, a company that he co-founded. At the time Google purchased the company, Metaweb was working on a "semantic web" of linked information online and that work became the foundation of the Google knowledge graph. He had been the head of Google search for the last two years and was appointed to that position as Google rolled AI into products used by millions of people around the world.

With the departure from Google, two execs will replace Giannandrea with Jeff Dean running AI and Ben Gomes heading up search. Interestingly, Giannandrea doesn’t share Elon Musk's doom and gloom outlook on AI sparking World War III.


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