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Apple Hires Google's Chief of Search and Artificial Intelligence

Apple has snapped up John Giannandrea, who today stepped down from his position as the head of Google's search and artificial intelligence unit, reports The New York Times.

According to Apple, Giannandrea will run Apple's overall "machine learning and A.I. strategy," reporting directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

In an email sent out to employees and obtained by The New York Times, Cook had high praise for Giannandrea. "John shares our commitment to privacy and our thoughtful approach as we make computers even smarter and more personal," he said. "Our technology must be infused with the values we all hold dear."

Giannandrea's hiring comes as Apple has recently faced criticism for Siri, the AI-based personal assistant built into products like Macs, iPhones, iPads, the Apple TV, and the HomePod. Many believe Siri has serious shortcomings in comparison to AI offerings from other companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google due to Apple's heavy focus on privacy.

The Information, for example, recently shared an in-depth look at Siri and how it has become a "major problem" for the company due to rushed development and poor communication between teams.

At Google, Giannandrea, a senior vice president, was involved in the push to integrate artificial intelligence throughout Google products, including internet search, Gmail, and Google Assistant.

Prior to joining Apple, Giannandrea spent 10 years at Google, joining the company following Google's acquisition of Metaweb, a startup where he worked as a chief technology officer.

In recent years, Apple has been bolstering its artificial intelligence team. In 2016, the company hired Carnegie Mellon researcher Russ Salakhutdinov to lead a team focused on artificial intelligence, and in October, Apple acqui-hired the team from Init.ai, a customer service startup focused on creating AI with natural language processing and machine learning to analyze chat-based conversations between humans.

There has also been an uptick in the number of positions Apple has recently offered on its job website that mention the term "Siri," suggesting a ramp up in AI hires.



Top Rated Comments

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12 weeks ago
Finally. I'm glad Apple is taking a step to fix Siri but I imagine its going to take a year or two to see results.
Rating: 34 Votes
12 weeks ago

Is there no such thing as a „competitors clause“ or something in the US? How do all these people get snatched from their current position to start somewhere new doing the same thing


The US is very decentralized compared to other countries. Rules vary a lot by state. While many states allow such clauses, called non-competes in the US, they are virtually unenforceable in California. That's great for tech because it makes it much harder for companies to monopolize ideas.
Rating: 17 Votes
12 weeks ago

Is there no such thing as a „competitors clause“ or something in the US? How do all these people get snatched from their current position to start somewhere new doing the same thing


Because unless the person is stealing trade secrets, there is nothing to prevent work at a competitor.
To prevent work at a competitor you typically need to pay the employee to sit at home.
Anti-compete clauses have been found to be mostly unenforceable because it prevents the person from earning a living. When you look at very specialized fields, it is difficult not to be in a position working for the competition in some way or another.

Crappy engineers steal on paper when they leave. Good engineers leave with nothing more than is in their head.
If you invented it or worked on it. You can think of a way to do it differently and better.
Rating: 15 Votes
12 weeks ago
Good. They desperately need to right the ship if they expect to be a big player in voice assistants. Siri has become a joke and laughingstock.
Rating: 14 Votes
12 weeks ago
Well, THAT is an aggressive move, and good on them!
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Is there no such thing as a „competitors clause“ or something in the US? How do all these people get snatched from their current position to start somewhere new doing the same thing


Because in the US as a general rule we're not into indentured servitude anymore. No one should be forced to work for one company for life or have to exit to a new career.
Rating: 13 Votes
12 weeks ago
Oh wow.
Rating: 13 Votes
12 weeks ago
My guess is this guy likes a challenge. And the big challenge for him would be to apply ML and AI to allow Apple to offer better services (like Siri or search) AND also maintain privacy.
Rating: 12 Votes
11 weeks ago

Their so-called dedication to privacy is nothing more than smoke and mirrors & feel-good marketing-speak


I disagree. And a comment from some nobody on the internet won’t change that.
Rating: 11 Votes
12 weeks ago

So you could like work 5 years at Daimler and then move on to VW and be like „at daimler we were working on this and that by doing these things that way“? Crazy to me


No, that's also not allowed (see: Waymo vs Uber, a recent case of getting it exactly wrong), but you can continue to use your skills without infringing the other company's rights.

http://fortune.com/2018/02/05/waymo-v-uber-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-high-stakes-self-driving-tech-trial/

https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/9/16997394/waymo-v-uber-trial-settlement-explained

Uber is a pretty dirty company in general.
Rating: 9 Votes
12 weeks ago
Ooh maybe Siri will get better now.
Rating: 8 Votes

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