Top Apple Machine Learning Exec Resigns Over Strict Return To Office Policy

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Ian Goodfellow, Apple's director of machine learning, has left the company after three years of service. It is believed that a large part of his decision to leave had to do with Apple's policy on returning to in-person work in its various offices.

Apple was able to sway the noted artificial intelligence expert away from Google back in 2019 in an effort to build up its development of AI and machine learning technologies. The official reasons behind Goodfellow's departure from Apple have not been given as of yet. However, he shared an email with to staff confirming his upcoming departure.

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Courtesy of Zoey Schiffer's Twitter Account

A post on Twitter by Zoe Schiffer stated that Apple's change in its work from home policy was part of the reasoning behind Goodfellow's decision to leave. According to Schiffer, Goodfellow did let on that the policy change to have more people come back to the office versus working from home was an issue. "I believe strongly that more flexibility would have been the best policy for my team," he wrote in a note according to Schiffer.

Goodfellow was known for his work on Generative Adversarial Networks, or GANs, during his stint with Google. GANs is a technique that pits two competing neural networks against one another, to better infer information from the output data. While at Google, he conducted research into GANs and their security potential.

At the time Apple acquired Goodfellow, the company was using machine learning algorithms and technologies in a range of applications. These included content recommendations, camera imaging, Siri, biometric security, and others. Apple was also looking to apply on-device AI and machine learning tech to recommend articles and publications in Apple News+.

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Image Courtesy of Apple

The policy called into question  had Apple staff returning to in-person work at various offices from April 11th onward. It started with a hybrid work schedule of one day per week in the office and gradually increased the in-office days over time.

A survey of a small number of Apple employees found that a high percentage were actively looking for employment elsewhere due to the return-to-work policy. The risk of Covid infections, a toxic company culture, and a lack of a work-life balance were cited as reasons behind their desire to seek employment elsewhere.

Top Image Courtesy of Apple