Google are the leaders when it comes to artificial intelligence. Apple have somewhat fallen behind – where Google are perhaps known more for technical innovation and experimentation, Apple’s success is built on it’s focus on design and customer experience.
But that might be changing thanks to a high profile coup. “Apple have hired Google’s chief of search and artificial intellience”, the New York Times reports. John Giannandrea, after 8 years working at Google, will be joining Apple to help drive the organization’s machine learning and artificial intelligence projects forward. Anyone who has used Siri will know that Apple have some catching up to do in terms of conversational UI – Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant have captured the marketplace and seem to be defining the future.
One of the reasons Apple has struggled to keep up the pace with the likes of Google and Facebook, as noted by a number of news sites, is that they have a completely different approach to user data. As we’ve seen in recent weeks, Facebook have a huge wealth of data on users that expands beyond the limits of the platform – Google, in defining the foundations of many people’s experiences of search, also has a huge amount of data on users.
As the New York Times explains:
Apple has taken a strong stance on protecting the privacy of people who use its devices and online services, which could put it at a disadvantage when building services using neural networks.
Researchers train these systems by pooling enormous amounts of digital data, sometimes from customer services. Apple, however, has said it is developing methods that would allow it to train these algorithms without compromising privacy.
Giannandrea’s perspective on AI would seem to be well-aligned with Apple’s philosophy. In a number of interviews and conference talks, he has played down talks of automation and human’s becoming obsolete, instead urging people to consider the biases and ethical considerations of artificial intelligence.