Apple on its Artificial Intelligence Research

December 7
5:09 AM 2016

Apple's artificial intelligence research is now going to start publishing some of their work and engaging more with the wider academic community.

Californian tech giant has traditionally kept research breakthroughs to itself, seeing any developments as valuable intellectual property (IP), so this is a major change in direction.

Companies like Google and Facebook already allow their employees to publish their research across a number of fields, including AI.

Apple's closed off approach could hinder its ability to hire the best people in the field of AI said Yan LeCun, Facebook's AI director in an interview.

Offering researchers the possibility of doing open research, which is publishing their work said LeCun in regards to his Facebook's AI efforts. He also said that FAIR (Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research), it's not just a possibility, it's a requirement. It's very important for a scientist because the currency of the career as a scientist is the intellectual impact. So you can't tell people 'come work for us but you can't tell people what you're doing' because you basically ruin their career. That's a big element.

Apple is developing AI to make products like Siri, the personal assistant that sits inside iPhone, iPad, and Mac, that bit smarter. It's also possible that Apple is developing AI for autonomous cars and other products that are yet to be announced. 

Majority of Apple's AI research takes place at its headquarters in Cupertino but the iPhone maker also has a number of satellite AI outposts around the world, including a secret Siri lab in Cambridge, UK.

Apple is not a member of that coalition. But it may soon join, if its efforts to be more collaborative and open continue on this path. The iPhone maker is already at a disadvantage compared to its competitors. It does not have direct access to the massive troves of data that a social network or search engine can tap into. It would seem that Apple too lacks some of the AI talent that Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook have attracted over the years. As a result, the Siri voice assistant has fallen behind in the smart home, and Apple's efforts to develop self-driving car software have suffered from setbacks and direction changes

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