Apple hires deep learning expert to make Siri smarter

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Siri
iPhone 8 won't have a physical Home button for Siri.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Siri is about to get a lot smarter thank to Carnegie Mellon researcher Russ Salakhutdinov, who announced today that he is joining Apple to lead the company’s artificial intelligence efforts.

Salakhutdinov said that he will also stay on as a professor at Carnegia Mellon University. But he is already looking to hire more research scientists to join Apple’s AI team.

Although he’s not a household name, Russ Salakhutdinov is one of the biggest deep learning figures in academia. His hiring by Apple comes after the company has been criticized for Siri’s weak performance compared to rival digital assistants from Google, Amazon and Microsoft.

Before working at CMU, Salakhutdinov worked at Toronto University and MIT. His work has focused on how to create deep learning models that are capable of extracting useful, high-level structured representations. The most recent research paper he published this summer discusses how to better derive the context behind the questions people pose.

It’s unclear if Salakhutdinov will still publish research papers now that he’s paid by Apple.