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Apple's secrecy hampering AI development, report says

Apple's intense levels of secrecy are preventing the company from making real leaps in the quality of its artificial intelligence, a report said on Thursday.

The company for example kept a low profile at last year's Neural Information Processing Systems conference, to the extent that its representatives wouldn't admit who they worked for unless asked, Bloomberg observed. The company has also produced zero AI research papers so far, even though researchers at rivals like Google submit them on a regular basis.

People on the company's AI teams are told to lock their offices whenever they leave, and are kept in the dark about what similar internal teams are doing, sources said.

Secrecy may also reportedly be scaring away potential hires, who could be worried about factors like work freedom and the ability to stay involved in the scientific community. Without the ability to publish papers, it can be difficult to maintain status in the research world and build on ideas.

Google in fact has a new residency program dedicated to AI research and publication, geared to draw in yet more experts.

Apple is at least hiring dozens of new people for AI-related work, and acquiring companies like Perceptio and VocalIQ. Rumors from AI researchers suggest that Apple may soon finally publish a research paper, but nothing else is known.

AI is quickly becoming essential to Apple. Its Siri voice assistant is found across iOS devices and the Apple TV, and work is believed to be underway on self-driving car technology. The latter will require synthesizing various branches of AI with absolute attention to detail, since mistakes could result in injuries or even death.