Apple Making Big Hiring Push in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

ios_9_proactiveApple is stepping up its efforts to recruit employees focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning, reports Reuters. The report suggests Apple is looking to challenge Google's lead in features such as Google Now that learn to anticipate smartphone users' needs, something Apple is starting to address in iOS 9 with its new "Proactive" feature.

As part of its push, the company is currently trying to hire at least 86 more employees with expertise in the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning, according to a recent analysis of Apple job postings. The company has also stepped up its courtship of machine-learning PhD's, joining Google, Amazon, Facebook and others in a fierce contest, leading academics say.

Apple's machine learning efforts are in large part built with Siri in mind, and Siri should play an important role in this Wednesday's media event, as indicated by the event invitation's tagline.

Many of the currently posted positions are slated for software efforts, from building on Siri’s smarts to the burgeoning search features in iOS. The company is also hiring machine learning experts for divisions such as product marketing and retail, suggesting a broad-based effort to capitalize on data.

Reuters notes that Apple faces a challenge with machine learning due to its focus on privacy and reluctance to tap into all possible data sources. For example, with the Proactive features of iOS 9, Apple is primarily keeping all of the data and analysis on the user's phone, enhancing privacy but limiting some of what can be learned from data passed to the cloud.

Apple's strict policies not only limit what can be learned from user data but also discourage some machine learning experts from pursuing positions with Apple due to that lack of access. Still, Apple is said to be opening up about machine learning, engaging with academic programs in its efforts to lure talent and already having tripled or quadrupled the size of its machine learning team over the last few years.

Top Rated Comments

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67 months ago
I really appreciate Apple's emphasis on privacy, especially in this post-Snowden era. It's what keeps me away from great but creepy services like Google Photos.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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67 months ago
Hopefully we'll see something come of this. The amount of things Siri knows it can't do is… odd, actually.



Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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67 months ago

That's why Siri is poop..How is she supposed to be intelligent when she doesn't have enough data to access?

Confirmation bias aside (Siri serves people well in many ways, but it's easy to think what headlines tell us) it's not that the personal data you want Apple to use is not there at all – it's that the data is stored and used on the phone ITSELF rather than retained on the remote server.

That's a programming challenge (one I'm sure ATTRACTS some talent)--not simply having "not enough data" about you.

And this challenge - like so many "dire Apple problems" - comes with unique benefits as well. There are good reasons to accept that challenge and not go full Google. This approach is a GOOD option to have in the market.

And of course Siri DOES use cloud data about you too. It's a question of how much, and what ELSE that data is used for (like Google showing you and bystanders ads for things you've been emailing about) and how it is encrypted/stored, and for how long, and whether it's building complex profiles (anonymous in theory but easy to connect to you) to sell in aggregate to third parties, or is completely anonymous. And how protected you are from malware/spyware during all this info collection!

Apple can and will adjust that balance--I predict their machine learning will shift more to the cloud and a little less on the local device in future. But that they will still guard your privacy in ways Google never could or would.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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67 months ago
Conveniences should be derived in concert with our freedoms and liberties. Not in opposition to them.

It would be easier for Apple to take the low road on this but they're holding to the principles.

They're doing it the hard way but also the right way.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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67 months ago
I understand the dream here, but nothing I've seen Siri, Cortana, Google etc do convinces me that we're anywhere near it at all. I guess it's good that Apple are hiring experts, but I think it's going to be a long, long time before the dream of a truly "intelligent assistant" is realised.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
67 months ago

Apple is late to the innovation game again. [Sigh]

One company cannot lead in all areas at the same time, yet Apple is the only one expected to. Huh.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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