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Apple poaches Google's top AI executive to help Siri

05 April 2018

The New York Times reports that "Apple has hired Google's chief of search and artificial intelligence, John Giannandrea, a major coup in its bid to catch up to the artificial intelligence technology of its rivals". The leaders in these domains not only shape the path for technologies but refine them to an extent that it gets infused easily in an average human mind.

Google's Senior VP of Engineering John Giannandrea (L) and TechCrunch moderator Frederic Lardinois speak onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2017 at Pier 48 on September 19, 2017 in San Francisco, California. He originally joined the company after Google bought startup Metaweb, where he acted as Chief Technolgy Officer, in 2010.

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Search and AI are arguably Google's most important products now and for the future.

Giannandrea is a huge win for Apple as the company is hustling to make progress in the fast-moving and imperative AI technologies like computer vision, neural networks, deep learning and NLP. Amazon provides image recognition tech to the DoD, and Microsoft offers cloud services to military and defense agencies, the Times said.

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Artificial intelligence has become Google's bread and butter over the last few years, and one of the brains leading the company's charge in this direction has been John Giannandrea. Apple's voice-activated Siri search tools lag that of Amazon.com's (AMZN) Alexa as well as Google's digital assistant in consumer applications. The hire is being flagged as a major victory for Apple, which has always been viewed as lagging behind its rivals Google, Facebook and Amazon when it comes to AI. He will also attract and recruit the top-tier talent that Apple has been lacking. Giannandrea will focus on AI technology that supports Siri, while Federighi will likely still oversee the user-facing components. On the contrary, the company didn't even publish AI research until 2016, a common practice among AI researchers at Facebook and Google.

According to hiring data tracked by Thinknum, Apple has been increasing the number of people it is hiring to work on its AI products lately. The company is said to be working on a privacy feature with a new Apple ID tool that will allow users to download all their personal information. Machine learning experts are in high demand in Silicon Valley, with salaries often exceeding eight figures.

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Apple poaches Google's top AI executive to help Siri