Apple hires dozens of machine learning geniuses to improve Siri’s AI

AI artificial intelligence

Apple is busy hiring a glut of AI specialists in a bid to make Siri smarter than its rivals, according to Reuters.

At least 86 new staff will join the tech giant from PhD programmes or via numerous vacancy advertisements on job sites, the newswire reported today, as Apple tries to beat Google on smartphone AI functionality.

It wants to make its own voice assistant, Siri, better than Google Now for anticipating user needs and desires before they are expressed, and the specialists will all focus on developing better machine learning to achieve this.

However, experts told Reuters that Apple's privacy-centric philosophy would make it harder for the firm to succeed in its aim, because it would have less user data to base its machine learning predictions on.

This is in contrast to Google, which is able to analyse vast quantities of data generated by its huge swathe of Android users.

Joseph Gonzalez, co-founder of machine learning start-up Dato, said: "They want to make a phone that responds to you very quickly without knowledge of the rest of the world."

Microsoft introduced its own voice assistant, Cortana, in 2014, also based on machine learning, increasing competition for specialists to develop the technology, but Apple is understood to be fiercely hiring as much top talent as it can.

Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and a professor at the University of Washington, told Reuters: "In the past, Apple has not been at the vanguard of machine learning and cutting edge artificial intelligence work, but that is rapidly changing.".

"They are after the best and the brightest, just like everybody else," he added.