Bloomberg: Apple’s penchant for secrecy slowing down its AI development efforts

Apple logo (space 001)

According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple’s artificial development efforts are being hampered by the company’s legendary penchant for secrecy as the company is finding it difficult to hire top engineers in the field.

While Apple researchers attended an artificial intelligence industry conference in Montreal last year, they kept a low profile and “didn’t say who they worked for unless asked.”

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

To that end, Apple’s secrecy is manifesting itself in usual ways: new AI hires are prohibited from publicly announcing their positions on LinkedIn and social media. They’re required to lock their office doors whenever they leave and these teams are kept in the dark as to what other teams within Apple are doing.

Apple’s top AI hires are reportedly reluctant to commit to working in a closed environment like Apple and are said to be concerned about staying a part of the scientific community if they go to Apple.

The report goes on to note that Apple bought startups like Perception and VocalIQ and hired influential researchers from companies including Microsoft. Apple’s Jobs website lists 42 open positions that mention artificial intelligence and 120 that include the words “machine learning.”

“And AI researchers say they’ve heard Apple is planning to publish its first major AI paper, but they couldn’t provide details,” Bloomberg writes.

The report jibes pretty well with other accounts that Apple is finding it tough to recruit top minds in artificial intelligence and machine learning fields.

Last month, Reuters said that some of the brightest minds in artificial intelligence are increasingly not interested in working for Apple due to its strict privacy policies that prevent those engineers from retrieving valuable user data.

A former employee estimated the number of machine learning experts working for Apple has tripled or quadrupled in the past few years. Whichever way you look at it, Apple appears to be ramping up its AI efforts. The question is, is this hiring spree related to improving Siri or is it indicative of a top secret project?

Source: Bloomberg