Apple keeps throwing money at making Siri smarter

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Siri Alexa in voice report
Apple’s latest acquisition aims to give Siri better data to work with.
Photo: Apple

Apple purchased Inductiv, a Canadian company that focused on using artificial intelligence to clean up data. They created HoloClean, which was designed to get useful predictions from “noisy, incomplete, and erroneous data.”

The employees of Inductiv joined the team developing Siri, Apple’s voice-driven AI assistant, according to Bloomberg.

Apple researches and uses artificial intelligence and machine learning in its products. “Apple product teams are engaged in state of the art research in machine hearing, speech recognition, natural language processing, machine translation, text-to-speech, and artificial intelligence,” notes the Apple Machine Learning Journal.

Getting the most correct data possible for these systems to work from is obviously important, as well as finding ways to use limited data. The expertise acquired along with Inductiv is likely to assist in that process.

It’s a done deal

The founders of the Inductive confirm the buyout. Christopher Ré, who is also an associate professor in the Stanford AI Lab wrote on his homepage, “I’ve been fortunate enough to cofound projects including Lattice and Inductiv (HoloClean), which are now both part of Apple.”

And Theo Rekatsinas, an assistant professor and a member of the UW-Madison Database Group, said on his homepage “I am a co-founder of inductiv inc. Inductiv is based in Waterloo, ON and is focusing on automating data quality ops for analytical pipelines. [Inductiv is now part of Apple.]”

The third-cofounder, Ihab Francis Ilyas, a professor at the University of Waterloo, also confirmed the acquisition on his homepage. Ilyas describes HoloClean as “an open-source platform for using machine learning in error detection and repair.”

It’s not known how much Apple paid for the startup. Also unclear is whether Ré, Rekatsinas and Ilyas are also becoming Apple employees.