Yes, artificial intelligence is all the rage these days and among giant technology companies the basic consensus is that Apple is behind. For now. From NYT:
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.
What’s next? Google hires Sir Jonny Ive for design?
The hire is a victory for Apple, which many Silicon Valley executives and analysts view as lagging its peers in artificial intelligence, an increasingly crucial technology for companies that enable computers to handle more complex tasks, like understanding voice commands or identifying people in images.
It’s a victory only if Giannandrea can make a difference in Apple’s artificial intelligence efforts. Most technologists rank AI this way. Google’s Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, and Apple’s Siri somewhere down the list.
Apple CEO Tim Cook:
Our technology must be infused with the values we all hold dear. John shares our commitment to privacy and our thoughtful approach as we make computers even smarter and more personal.
The real issue here is the conflict Apple faces with artificial intelligence and the need for data. Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft are less concerned about user or customer data than Apple and that might put our favorite iPhone maker at a disadvantage, though that is not the whole story.
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.
For now, Siri’s dictation seems as good as any competitor, but the technology does not handle as many actions as Alexa, doesn’t manage context as well as Assistant, and there are calls for Apple to fire Siri and hire Cortana.
In the end all we want is an AI device that is friendly, responsive, accurate, understands context, knows who we are relative to everyone else’s voice, and won’t take over the world because it deems humans to be imperfect.