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Apple poached one of Google's best AI specialists

Apple poaches one of Google's top AI specialists

We all get to see changes in market share percentages, sales numbers and all sorts of data showing how competing companies on the mobile market exchange blows all over the world. In California’s Silicon Valley there is another, less covered fight going on between the tech giants that call it home: the war for talent. There are only a few people at the top of each field and if you want to be the best, you have to get them.

It seems that Apple did just that last month, CNBC reports, as it managed to bring a very important specialist to Cupertino. His name is Ian Goodfellow and for the last two years, he was a Senior Staff Research Scientist with a focus on machine learning at Google. Since March, however, he’s the Director of Machine Learning in the Special Projects Group at Apple, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Just by comparing the two titles, Senior Staff versus Director, you get an idea about why Ian might have taken the job at Apple. Of course, we have no doubt that the new position came with a significant salary bump as well. Which seems completely justified considering his expertise. According to his own summary, Goodfellow is “an industry leader in machine learning”, and while that might sound a bit cocky, it’s not wrong. Ian has co-authored tens of publications about machine learning, including the book Deep Learning. He’s also invented multiple machine-learning algorithms that we’re not even going to try to describe here.

As you might have noticed if you’re following closely the mobile technology scene, AI and machine learning are already deeply integrated within smartphones and other gadgets. This makes it harder to guess what exactly is Ian going to work on as part of Apple’s Special Projects Group. Is he tasked with the development of a brand new product? Is the “special project” making Siri actually useful? Are we going to see even more AI in Apple’s upcoming smartphone cameras? With a company the size of Apple, the possibilities are endless.

It will take months, if not years before we see the results of Mr. Goodfellow’s work at Apple, but one thing is certain, the move is a huge win for Apple and an equally huge loss for Google. It’s not like AI geniuses are dime a dozen. At least we shouldn’t see any regression in Google Assistant if that’s any consolation.

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