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Apple's Siri, Machine Learning teams now under control of new hire John Giannandrea [u]

To improve the technologies at the core of Apple's future, the company has merged the Siri and Machine Learning teams into one entity, under the control of recent hire John Giannandrea.




Apple has confirmed to AppleInsider that John Giannandrea will not just helm Apple's Machine Learning division, but will also run the Siri team at the same time, with the executive acting as a de facto artificial intelligence czar for the company. TechCrunch has said that the internal structures of both will remain the same.

The move is likely being done to consolidate work efforts on both programs. Siri has been panned for a poor response as compared to its competitors, and it was clear when Giannandrea was hired, that he was hired to enhance Apple's machine learning technologies, so the division reorganization is an obvious one.

Prior to his April hire, Giannandrea had prior connections with Apple. His early AI work was done at Apple spin-off General Magic in the mid '90s prior to a move to Netscape. He is also believed to have been working on Google's self-driving car initiative in addition to his responsibilities with Google's search business.

Giannandrea joined Google as part of an acqui-hire from the purchase of Metaweb in 2010. Google eventually rolled the Metaweb product into its search results, but the buy greatly expanded Google's AI talent pool, growing the company's research dramatically.

"Computers are incredibly powerful but they are also pretty dumb, and I think we need to work hard to make them fulfill the potential that they have and so that means teaching them to be smarter," Giannandrea said to CNBC in September. "Technology should augment the human intellect, not replace it. It should be a powerful tool to help us think better, and I think that is really the journey we are on."

Giannandrea led the charge at Google to infuse artificial intelligence across Google's range of products. Divisions that have seen improvements because of Gianandrea's involvement include Gmail, Google Assistant, and the search business at the core of Google's business.

"There is just a huge amount of unwarranted hype around AI right now. Machine learning and artificial intelligence is extremely important and will revolutionize many vertical industries, and I am very excited by the progress we are making," said Giannandrea, responding to a question about an AI-driven apocalypse. "But, it is very practical and applied progress. And I think what we are doing is building tools, like, say, the Google Search engine, that make you more productive."

Update: Apple has updated the company leadership page with the information.