Apple poaches Google's AI Chief to make Siri smarter

Giannandrea joined Google back in 2010 and was leading the company's search and AI units, after Amit Singhal, head of search had left.

Cook broke the news to Apple staff via an email, stating: "Our technology must be infused with the values we all hold dear". The hire is being flagged as a major victory for Apple, which has always been viewed as lagging behind its rivals Google, Facebook and Amazon when it comes to AI.

What's interesting is that Google has been doing its best to keep all the information about its AI technology secret.

Apple, although the pioneer of personal virtual assistants with the likes of Siri, now lacks access to data as well as research talent to succeed in AI development. Before joining Google, Gianandrea functioned as the chief technology officer at Metaweb, which was then building a "database of world's knowledge".

"He's an OG Valley technology visionary", Marc Andreessen, who co-founded Netscape where Giannandrea worked several years ago, for example, once told Recode. Among the signatories to the letter, which is circulating inside the company, are dozens of senior engineers at Google, the Times said.

"What I object to is this assumption that we will leap to some kind of superintelligent system that will then make humans obsolete", he said to the MIT Tech Review "I understand why people are concerned about it but I think it's gotten way too much airtime".

Users have often spoken of what they view as Siri's inferior quality when compared to Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa.

Giannandrea's work and role at Apple is still a little unclear.

What exact projects Giannandrea and any teams under him will be working on within Apple was not disclosed, but with his prior experience at Google and his new position's description, it would be no surprise to see him directing Apple's pursuit of Google in the AI space. Sometimes that data protection policy is at odds with developing AI, because AI training requires vast amounts of data. This only leaves the company to work with publicly available sets of data - which is rather limited.

Jeff Dean, who heads up Google Brain, Google's AI research team, will run the AI side of things while Ben Gomes, the VP of search engineering, will now lead search.

It is likely that one of Giannandrea's first tasks will be to revitalize Siri, Apple's intelligent assistant which is built in to iPhones and the company's HomePod connected speaker.

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