APPLE HAS announced something of a coup, with the appointment of a top Google executive as its new head of AI.
The very-difficult-to-spell-if-you-aren't-concentrating John Giannandrea (he's Scottish, apparently) will become Apple's boss of 'machine learning and AI strategy' reporting to Tim Cook himself, putting him squarely on the front bench.
Giannandrea was announced to be stepping down from Google only on Tuesday as part of a surprise reshuffle which will see him replaced by Jeff Dean and his other responsibilities as head of Search split off into a new role.
He joined the company back in 2010 when his company Metaweb was bought out and his career path took a more Google-related direction.
"Our technology must be infused with the values we all hold dear," said Mr. Cook in a company-wide email obtained by the New York Times.
"John shares our commitment to privacy and our thoughtful approach as we make computers even smarter and more personal."
Mr Giannandrea's first job will be to try and find a new path for Siri which most analysts agree has fallen way behind rivals like Alexa and Google Assistant. Even the arrival of the Apple Homepod, which combines Siri with a top-end speaker, has proved a disappointment for many as Siri can currently do far less than its nearest rivals.
Giannandrea is seen as a linchpin in the swivelling of Google to be an AI first company, infusing intelligent responses into all aspects of the company's work from search results to photo organisation. Its hoped that he'll be able to bring the same magic to Apple.
Mr Giannandrea previously told the New York Times that he doesn't subscribe to the doomsday scenario for AI.
"What I object to", he claimed, "is this assumption that we will leap to some kind of superintelligent system that will then make humans obsolete,
"I understand why people are concerned about it but I think it's gotten way too much airtime. I just see no technological basis as to why this is imminent at all."
Mr Giannandrea's departure from Google should never really have been seen as anything else - with AI skills so much in demand, he will certainly have been courting Apple for months. µ
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