Apple has been a pioneer in the technology and communications industries for decades, and now they’re looking to break into an even newer frontier: Artificial intelligence.
On Monday, Oct. 17, Russ Salakhutdinov, a professor in the Machine Learning department of Carnegie Mellon University, announced on Twitter his new role as the Apple Director of AI Research. He also provided the Apple job posting, inviting people to apply to be members of his new team.
The main objective of Apple’s newly created Artificial Intelligence research team will be to discover ways to implement and improve Siri across all of their products. Tim Cook elaborated that these deep engineering AI initiatives could include increasing battery life on your phone, suggesting songs to Apple Music subscribers, and helping you remember where you parked your car. To aid these lofty pursuits, Apple is building two large research and development bases in China and Japan.
While this is a very exciting announcement for Apple and Apple lovers, it’s also being viewed as a move to keep up with other industry leaders. In September companies including Facebook, Amazon, Google, IBM, Alphabet, and Microsoft united to form the Partnership on AI. This development was fueled by the fact that artificial intelligence advancements will be rooted in data, and these companies own inordinate amounts of audience information. Even though the participating companies are industry competitors, the hope is that the alliance will provide a forum for discussions on advancements in artificial intelligence, as well as the ethical implications about new technologies. In effort to create transparency and educate the public about these new developments, the Partnership on AI will make discussions and meeting minutes publicly available.
Apple’s absence from this partnership has not gone unnoticed, but the tech company has a reputation for secrecy in innovations. Their researchers usually don’t present at conferences, publish papers, or even mention new technologies until the official press conference announcement. This might change with Salakhutdinov’s new role, as he’ll still continue to work part-time at Carnegie Melon on similar AI research. His projects often focus on enabling machines to understand human interactions as well as unstructured web data. You can check him out on Twitter @rsalakhu if you want to learn more about his research and robotic learning models, and hopefully gain some insight into Apple’s new AI research!