Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Apple Hires John Giannandrea

Jack Nicas and Cade Metz, New York Times:

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.

Apple said on Tuesday that Mr. Giannandrea will run Apple’s “machine learning and A.I. strategy,” and become one of 16 executives who report directly to Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook.

This is a big get for Apple; Giannandrea‘s name is on a bunch of the patents that form the groundwork for Google’s “Knowledge Graph” search infrastructure. My interpretation of this is that it means that he’s familiar with making assistant-type software more understanding of user intent; however, it should also be noted that an extension of the Knowledge Graph has been a source of pain for Google as well.

As this Times story explains, Apple has been making big hires in the machine learning space, and MacStories’ John Voorhees points to over a hundred Siri-related job postings on Apple’s website. What I’ve long wondered is how much of Siri’s lacklustre qualities can be blamed on a lack of staff, how much is the fault of Siri’s managers, and how much is a product of the way the company operates. If it’s primarily the first and second, then hiring renowned leaders and additional staff across Siri’s various teams could make a positive contribution. But if it’s the third, it’s going to require more than a few key hires. What’s most interesting, I think, about Giannandrea’s hire is that he’s reporting directly to Tim Cook. Hopefully, that means a clear direction for what Siri’s capabilities ought to be, and how we should expect it to function.