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

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 10
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    Well, now we know why he left Google for Apple. Quite the opportunity for him to be in charge of everything related to AI. I imagine his impact on Apple products (not just Siri) is going to be significant.
    tmayjbdragonlostkiwiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 32
    stukestuke Posts: 71member
    First order of business, fix Siri so the response isn't (ALWAYS) "Here's what I found on the web for ..."  I could have gone to the web, searched Google, and found it out myself, dear Siri.  I just want you to answer it form me, audibly.
    yojimbo007
  • Reply 3 of 32
    LukeCageLukeCage Posts: 161member
    stuke said:
    First order of business, fix Siri so the response isn't (ALWAYS) "Here's what I found on the web for ..."  I could have gone to the web, searched Google, and found it out myself, dear Siri.  I just want you to answer it form me, audibly.
    This is false, Siri is quite capable, is it lacking yes but Siri does not always say “Here’s what I found on the web”. Siri answers my inquiries way more than it says that.
    StrangeDaysjbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 32
    LukeCage said:
    stuke said:
    First order of business, fix Siri so the response isn't (ALWAYS) "Here's what I found on the web for ..."  I could have gone to the web, searched Google, and found it out myself, dear Siri.  I just want you to answer it form me, audibly.
    This is false, Siri is quite capable, is it lacking yes but Siri does not always say “Here’s what I found on the web”. Siri answers my inquiries way more than it says that.
    And, arguably, getting the “Here’s what I found on the web” response is still faster than going through the steps required to perform a manual search. The same can be said for everything I use Siri for. Sure, I can unlock my phone, open the clock app and set a timer manually. It’s much faster to use Siri. Same goes for HomeKit commands, conversions, directions, making calls, sending texts, etc. 

    Personally, I find it odd that people use Siri for web searches. How many times do people search the web to find something that can be satisfactorily answered in a sentence or two from the very first result received? Maybe it’s just me but I usually want a slightly more in-depth answer than what I would be happy having Siri read back to me. 
    ericthehalfbeewatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 32
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,577member
    This is perhaps the most important thing happening at Apple right now.   They need to work towards the day that AI technologies are a core part of the operating system.   If they dont someone else will and then it will be all over for Apple.  Right now the whole concept of Siri and the trips taken to Apple servers is a bit of a joke.  
    patchythepirate
  • Reply 6 of 32
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,240member
    Good, I’m glad Siri was moved under him. Hopefully there’s a Siri 2.0 project going on at the company similar to what they’re doing with maps.
    patchythepiratelostkiwi
  • Reply 7 of 32
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 18,693member
    Who was heading it up before? Cue?
  • Reply 8 of 32
    wizard69 said:
    Right now the whole concept of Siri and the trips taken to Apple servers is a bit of a joke.  
    Don’t all the digital assistants require an internet connection to work? I have no idea the size of the database and processing required to know how feasible it is to do any of it on device. Do you?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 32
    Good, I’m glad Siri was moved under him. Hopefully there’s a Siri 2.0 project going on at the company similar to what they’re doing with maps.
    I remember a few years back an article quoting someone at Apple saying that Siri was currently on version 3. I believe they even mentioned that changes could be made without requiring updates to the OS so user could see the benefit immediately. 
    jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 32
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,220member
    stuke said:
    First order of business, fix Siri so the response isn't (ALWAYS) "Here's what I found on the web for ..."  I could have gone to the web, searched Google, and found it out myself, dear Siri.  I just want you to answer it form me, audibly.
    So what you’re saying is, when you ask Siri for the weather, she just loads a web page?

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 32
    wizard69 said:
    Right now the whole concept of Siri and the trips taken to Apple servers is a bit of a joke.  
    Don’t all the digital assistants require an internet connection to work? I have no idea the size of the database and processing required to know how feasible it is to do any of it on device. Do you?
    Google Assistant can do some limited things when offline - i.e. it can do the speech recognition on device then take action if possible.
    LukeCage said:
    stuke said:
    First order of business, fix Siri so the response isn't (ALWAYS) "Here's what I found on the web for ..."  I could have gone to the web, searched Google, and found it out myself, dear Siri.  I just want you to answer it form me, audibly.
    This is false, Siri is quite capable, is it lacking yes but Siri does not always say “Here’s what I found on the web”. Siri answers my inquiries way more than it says that.
    And, arguably, getting the “Here’s what I found on the web” response is still faster than going through the steps required to perform a manual search. The same can be said for everything I use Siri for. Sure, I can unlock my phone, open the clock app and set a timer manually. It’s much faster to use Siri. Same goes for HomeKit commands, conversions, directions, making calls, sending texts, etc. 

    Personally, I find it odd that people use Siri for web searches. How many times do people search the web to find something that can be satisfactorily answered in a sentence or two from the very first result received? Maybe it’s just me but I usually want a slightly more in-depth answer than what I would be happy having Siri read back to me. 
    There are plenty of times when a one sentence answer via voice can be useful, e.g. lazily watching a movie on the couch - "Hey Google, what's the name of the actress that plays XYZ in ABC?" Or "Hey Google, when was The Battle of XYZ?" when watching a war movie. Or "what are the ingredients in a daiquiri?" while sifting through the liquor cabinet.  "what time does flight XYZ land?" when planning to get someone from the airport. Game changer, no, convenient, yes.

  • Reply 12 of 32
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,629member
    wizard69 said:
    This is perhaps the most important thing happening at Apple right now.   They need to work towards the day that AI technologies are a core part of the operating system.   If they dont someone else will and then it will be all over for Apple.  Right now the whole concept of Siri and the trips taken to Apple servers is a bit of a joke.  
    Remember when people said their computer design decisions would be the end of Apple? And remember when people said their mobile phone design decisions would be the end of Apple? Yeah. Now the new DOOM is AI. Any year now...Apple is toast. Somebody else is gonna just eat their lunch with awesome sauce. So sad...somebody ought to let Cook know what’s coming. Poor guy. 
    edited July 10 propodwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 32
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,909member
    “Tim, we can make Siri smarter, but we’re going to need total access to all user information on the devices to do it.”
  • Reply 14 of 32
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,867member
    This sounds like good news and the right direction for Apple to go in.  Siri is great most of the time for me, but it can use improvements.  I still think the HomePod and Google Home and Amazon Echo are all kind of older tech.  They're locked into a room by a power cord.  I have a HomePod as of a couple weeks ago and an Amazon Dot and a Google Mini and Alexa on my Ecobee 4. So I get to play around with all of them.  But my Opinion stands.  Apple has been in this game for a while now with something much more advanced,....  The Apple Watch!!!  A device that works everywhere you're at.  All the rooms in your house.  Outside, at work, etc.    I can lift my wrist and ask Siri When do the 49'ers play next and it'll show me the results.  No problem!!!  Or I'm walking up to my house, lift my wrist and go "Hey Siri, Open garage" and my garage door starts to open up.  Or I get home when it's dark out and want to drop something off in the backyard.  Well, I lift my wrist and go "Hey Siri, turn on outside garage light" and BAM the light over my side fence comes on.  I'm doing this NOW!!  Even on my slow Orignal Apple Watch.  I do plan to upgrade to an Apple Watch 4 when they come out.

    Unless you just need a large speaker to play some Music and the HomePod sounds great doing that.  It's locked in my Master Bedroom with all my other devices.   Spreading around $50 Dot's or Mini's around your house can work, and maybe good for all your family members.  I got mine at Christmas for $30 a pop.  But that still doesn't cover outside does it!!!  You're not really going to leave one of these things outside.    Siri may be a little show on my Watch, but it almost answers every question I give it.  It rarely ever screws up.  But again, I'm always for making things even better.   There's 4-5 people here at work alone with Apple Watches.  The numbers continue to grow.  I haven't noticed any other Smart Watches around.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 32
    “Tim, we can make Siri smarter, but we’re going to need total access to all user information on the devices to do it.”

    Nothing wrong with having access to your data.

    Monetizing it or making it available to others is the problem.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 32
    FolioFolio Posts: 382member
    Who was heading it up before? Cue?
    Initially it was a subset under Cue. Then went under Federighi, still a subset of his portfolio. So kicking Siri/ML under its own “czar” w direct line to Tim Cook is big. very good news!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 32
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Can Siri even correctly pronounce his name right now? :p  I have a “German” surname fairly common among Americans and it can’t even get that right.
  • Reply 18 of 32
    Can Siri even correctly pronounce his name right now? :p  I have a “German” surname fairly common among Americans and it can’t even get that right.
    Have you tried to teach Siri the correct pronunciation? I’ve done that several times and it works nicely. Though I’ve also noticed that sometimes Siri reverts to the incorrect pronunciation after several months. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 32
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,577member
    wizard69 said:
    Right now the whole concept of Siri and the trips taken to Apple servers is a bit of a joke.  
    Don’t all the digital assistants require an internet connection to work? I have no idea the size of the database and processing required to know how feasible it is to do any of it on device. Do you?
    When you say all you are really talking about hitting a moving target, even Siri is getting updates on Apple servers.   As for what is currently happening I do believe that Googles solution does more on the device than any other assistant.

    By the way I have to believe that Apples long term goals here are to in fact do more processing on the devices.   That is likely why they have started to mix in matrix processing hardware to accelerate machine learning and AI like behaviors.     To do such processing in a timely manner they need to get the optimized hardware into the hands of users first.   As such A11 likely will be the mark at which hardware support for old devices comes to an end in a couple of IOS releases.   In other words we could need A11 or better hardware by 2021.

    Initially what you would be doing on device would be the easy stuff, for example setting a timer, taking notes, making an appointment / calendar entry.   These things would greatly reduce the amount of traffic to Apples servers.   AS things improve hardware wise on the I devices more nad more would be done locally.   I suspect the goal is Knowledge Navigator type performance at Apple.
  • Reply 20 of 32
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,577member
    wizard69 said:
    This is perhaps the most important thing happening at Apple right now.   They need to work towards the day that AI technologies are a core part of the operating system.   If they dont someone else will and then it will be all over for Apple.  Right now the whole concept of Siri and the trips taken to Apple servers is a bit of a joke.  
    Remember when people said their computer design decisions would be the end of Apple? And remember when people said their mobile phone design decisions would be the end of Apple? Yeah. Now the new DOOM is AI. Any year now...Apple is toast. Somebody else is gonna just eat their lunch with awesome sauce. So sad...somebody ought to let Cook know what’s coming. Poor guy. 
    Your attitude in this post sucks.    In any event if you look around you will see a lot of disenfranchised Apple users when it comes to hardware.    They ahve basically sunk sales in the new MBP, Mini, Mac Pro and the iMac via their design and marketing decisions.

    It isn't a question of doom (something I never said) it is all about Apple having to invest in AI to remain viable.   If you don't want to beleive in the importnace of AI and related technologies that is your right but I see it as a critical technology Apple has to master.
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