Apple Poached Dozens Of Google’s AI Experts To Bolster A Secret Research Lab

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It appears Apple has been poaching Google's seasoned AI experts for its Zurich Vision Lab, a secretive Apple research facility in Switzerland. The snagging of one of its biggest competitor’s AI talent began back in 2018.

The news stems from an analysis of LinkedIn profiles, which revealed that notable ex-Google personnel now on Apple’s payroll include the likes of John Giannandrea, who the company made the top executive of AI research, and Samy Bengio, who is currently the senior director of AI and ML research at Apple. It should come as no surprise that Apple has been trying to beef up its AI efforts, being the Cupertino-based company has been behind the eight ball when it comes to getting AI onto its devices in relation to its competition.

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“During the time that I was there,” Chuck Wooters, who worked on Siri in 2013, remarked, “one of the pushes that was happening in the Siri group was to move to a neutral architecture for speech recognition.” He continued, “Even back then, before large language models took off, they were huge advocates of neural networks.”

The analysis and report were a product of Financial Times, which also stated that Apple has been able to sway 36 or more now former Google AI workers into its homestead. The information was pulled from the analysis of LinkedIn profiles, along with job postings and research papers.

Even with the new information, it is still not clear exactly what all those ex-Google employees are doing for Apple in its secretive Zurich Vision Lab. It is also not clear as to why Apple seems to remain so far behind others in the AI race, when it has clearly been focusing on developing it. However, some may argue that it points to Apple not being as far behind as many think—Apple historically has taken a more measured approach to product releases.

With the new iPads coming later this month, and iOS 18 not far behind, it should become much clearer just where Apple stands in terms of bringing AI to its devices. Perhaps all those ex-Google employees have been working on something that will surprise us all.