Apple is willing to bet big on artificial intelligence

By

Come with us if you want to CultCast.
Next year's WWDC, anyone?
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

Apple is ramping up its hiring of artificial intelligence experts in an attempt to compete with companies like Google.

According to a new report, Apple’s number of machine learning gurus has tripled or quadrupled in the past few years, and Cupertino is currently in the middle of a hiring spree for even more.

Forget Skynet, how about iNet?

Machine learning refers to computers’ ability to learn through analysis of large data sets, with applications in everything from improved search and image recognition to natural language processing and predictive smartphone features.

Apple is reportedly recruiting students fresh from from PhD programs, with a view to developing applications that can better predict what users are going to want next — as seen through iOS 9’s Proactive feature and, possibly, the forthcoming Apple TV refresh.

Interestingly, today’s report notes that Apple’s privacy policy is getting in the way of Apple recruiting some AI students. That’s because many researchers want access to the kind of massive data sets Apple doesn’t have due to its refusal to analyze user data — as epitomized by Tim Cook’s statement to Charlie Rose, “You are not our product.”

“[Apple wants] to make a phone that responds to you very quickly without knowledge of the rest of the world,” notes Joseph Gonzalez, co-founder of Dato, a machine learning startup. “It’s [hard] to do that.”

With Google launching its smart Now on Tap this fall, it’s understandable why Apple would want to invest heavily in AI. With that being said, without heavy investment and some major policy changes in this area, it’s going to be an uphill struggle for Cupertino to keep up with the likes of Google and Facebook.

Would you value neat Google-style AI applications or Apple’s strict adherence to a privacy policy more? Leave your comments below.

Via: Venture Beat