Apple hires Carnegie Mellon AI researcher to work on its own AI tech

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A well-known AI researcher, Russ Salakhutdinov of Carnegie Melon University, is joining Apple to direct some of the company's own efforts in the field.

Salakhutdinov announced his new job via Twitter on Monday, simultaneously sharing a link to an Apple listing calling for research scientists familiar with machine learning. Salakhutdinov's role will come in addition to his work at Carnegie Mellon.

Bloomberg noted that Salakhutdinov previously worked at MIT and the University of Toronto, and has specialized in neural networks, which can be essential for voice and image recognition. Some of his past research was funded by the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Samsung.

Apple has dramatically accelerated its machine learning efforts in the past couple of years, establishing a special division and buying firms in the sector such as Turi and Perceptio. A new Japanese R&D facility will tackle the concept.

CEO Tim Cook has suggested that AI will eventually become omnipresent across Apple products. Salakhutdinov might be particularly useful for improving Siri, which some have criticized as a comparatively "dumb" virtual assistant next to ones from companies like Google. Apple's strict privacy standards, though, have made it harder to expand Siri's abilities, since systems like Google Assistant can fetch more data — including user data — and thereby offer a way to analyze and improve AI responses.