Apple is finally ready to spill some of its AI secrets

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Apple is opening up about its AI work.
Photo: Hardmaru/Twitter

In a break from its ultra-secretive attitude toward R&D, Apple is set to start engaging more with the AI academic community by allowing its researchers to publish their work in machine learning journals.

The news was announced by Russ Salakhutd, director of AI research at Apple and a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania. He made the announcement at the Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) conference earlier today.

Apple began attending big AI conferences such as NIPS, but typically kept a low profile. This was in stark contrast with companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and even the Chinese search company Baidu, which were eager to show off their latest work.

“Apple is off the scale in terms of secrecy,” Richard Zemel, a professor in the computer science department at the University of Toronto, told Bloomberg last year. “They’re completely out of the loop.”

Other reports have suggested that Apple’s user privacy policy has stopped it from recruiting some AI students — since they want access to the kind of data Apple doesn’t collect about its customers.

After falling behind rivals when it comes to AI, Apple has been ramping up its focus on this subject as of late. Deep learning plays a big part in the latest versions of iOS and macOS, and Apple has acquired numerous startups involving this type of machine learning.

Although it’s not mentioned as the reason, it wouldn’t be surprising to hear that allowing researchers to publish has been one of the points of discussion involved with Apple’s various AI-oriented acquisitions.

The news that Apple will be publishing its work is definitely interesting to followers of the company, and very useful for employees.

Don’t expect too many hints about future directions for Apple products, though. A bit like the patents which are diligently combed over each week by Apple analysts and reporters, just because Apple investigates an area of AI doesn’t mean that it will necessarily show up in a product.

And if it’s something really cutting-edge, don’t expect news of it to be shared until after Apple has announced the finished product in question.

Via: Business Insider