Apple removes Siri team lead as part of AI strategy shift

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 1
Apple executive Bill Stasior, who has led the Siri team since joining the company in 2012, has been removed as head of the project in a sweeping strategy shift favoring long-term research over incremental updates, according to a report on Friday.

Cook Siri


Citing people familiar with the matter, The Information reports Stasior is no longer in charge of Apple's virtual assistant team, though the executive is still employed at the company. In what capacity Stasior now works is unclear.

Apple SVP of machine learning and AI John Giannendrea reportedly made the decision in an attempt to shift the Siri program toward research and away from minor upgrades typically pushed out in annual releases. Giannandrea is anticipated to start a search for a new head of Siri, the report said, though a timeline for replacement is unknown.

Hired by former Apple executive Scott Forstall to run point on Siri, Stasior was previously attached to Amazon's A9 search arm. During his tenure, Stasior had to manage not only the development of a premiere consumer AI product, but infighting within his own ranks as the project began to focus more intently on search capabilities.

Siri was at one point the focus of late Apple CEO Steve Jobs who, along with Forstall, envisioned a true conversational AI not restricted to web searches and device controls, but something close to human interaction. That vision waned with Jobs' passing and Forstall's ouster.

Stasior's removal as head of Siri comes at a critical point in the voice-enabled assistant's timeline. The first AI assistant to see wide adoption thanks to its inclusion in 2011's iPhone 4S, Siri now sees stiff competition from the likes of Amazon and Google, both of which found great success in building their respective technologies into smart speakers and home appliances. Apple's own foray into the smart speaker space, HomePod, launched to mixed reviews, many of which dinged the device for Siri's comparatively limited feature set.

Apple is now looking to Giannandrea in hopes of pulling ahead in the AI space.

Hired early last year, Giannandrea previously worked on artificial intelligence projects at Google. In December, he was promoted to SVP and put in charge of Apple's AI and Machine Learning programs, including Core ML and Siri.

Apple saw a number of high profile exits under Giannandrea, including the departure Tom Gruber, the last of Siri's co-founders to leave Cupertino. Vipul Ved Prakash, who served as Apple's search lead after his startup Topsy was acquired in 2013, left at around the same time that Gruber retired.
patchythepirate
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 60
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,654member
    I think you meant:

    Apple is now looking to Giannandrea in hopes of pulling ahead in the AI space
    supadav03nchia
  • Reply 2 of 60
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,654member
    Change is definitely needed for Siri.
    fred steinScot1qwwerakitatitpatchythepirateJWSCschlack
  • Reply 3 of 60
    I played with Alexa the other day on a friend's Sonos: I was impressed and amused. I have never been impressed by Siri. The actual speech parsing is good but the reaction to so many enquiries is just to display a web page on the display; this defeats the object in many cases. A rethink is overdue if Apple intends to compete in this area.
    ravnorodomScot1qwweratyler82kitatitpatchythepirateJWSC
  • Reply 4 of 60
    command_f said:
    I played with Alexa the other day on a friend's Sonos: I was impressed and amused. I have never been impressed by Siri. The actual speech parsing is good but the reaction to so many enquiries is just to display a web page on the display; this defeats the object in many cases. A rethink is overdue if Apple intends to compete in this area.
    Totally agree. It is one of the many reasons I hardly use Siri at all. It would be nice if there was some real functionality built into the assistant.
    qwwerakitatitpatchythepirateJWSC
  • Reply 5 of 60
    I don't buy the Siri is sooo far behind. Not for one minute. The entire issue is really about what access you give these intrusive home listening devices. They are toys at this point. You ply a song, you look up weather. what exactly are they doing to change your life? And I ask honestly. The Google and Amazon devices are happy to rummage through your life to find connections. Giving the device access to everything you write, all your address, your locations, your work and children ETC, yes. It will 'seem' smarter. It's just a better spy isn't it?


    shrave10georgecreedlejbdragonridyratStrangeDaysberndoggilly33lolliverwatto_cobrawuchmee
  • Reply 6 of 60
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,654member
    I don't buy the Siri is sooo far behind. Not for one minute. The entire issue is really about what access you give these intrusive home listening devices. They are toys at this point. You ply a song, you look up weather. what exactly are they doing to change your life? And I ask honestly. The Google and Amazon devices are happy to rummage through your life to find connections. Giving the device access to everything you write, all your address, your locations, your work and children ETC, yes. It will 'seem' smarter. It's just a better spy isn't it?


    Outside of this forum I’ve never met any one who didn’t think Siri was a pathetic joke.   More a pain to use than worth trying.   I actively try to stay away from Miss Annoyance.   Alexa on the other hand works great and was cheap.  
    kestralberndogpatchythepirate
  • Reply 7 of 60
    Outside of this forum I’ve never met any one who didn’t think Siri was a pathetic joke.   More a pain to use than worth trying.   I actively try to stay away from Miss Annoyance.   Alexa on the other hand works great and was cheap.  
    What is a joke is to trust a company that intentionally bypassed Safari's security settings to spy on people, and trust them so much that you would actually place their spy microphones in your house. Just say the wrong thing even as a joke and next thing you know, you could be stopped at the border by various customs officials with a hand on their gun. People putting Google and Amazon "smart speakers" in their home do not seem so to be so smart themselves.
    cornchipapplesauce007Scot1MacProiqatedojbdragonagilealtitudeqwweraridyratmike54
  • Reply 8 of 60
    Siri, like Apple's Maps, was mis-managed by Forstall. Then handed over to Eddie Cue, who had no ability in AI. Finally, Craig got the mandate. It seems Craig realized that AI / NLP is THE future and needed a fully dedicated expert. My guess he told Tim to hire the best and give him carte blanche, C-level authority. I'm total FanBoy, but Siri is terrible. It makes Lily Tomlin as Ernestine look like a genius. "Is this the party to whom I'm speaking" - Showing my age.....
    Jeff_in_TXScot1berndoggilly33patchythepirateJWSCwatto_cobraschlack
  • Reply 9 of 60
    Siri, like Apple's Maps, was mis-managed by Forstall. Then handed over to Eddie Cue, who had no ability in AI. Finally, Craig got the mandate. It seems Craig realized that AI / NLP is THE future and needed a fully dedicated expert. My guess he told Tim to hire the best and give him carte blanche, C-level authority. I'm total FanBoy, but Siri is terrible. It makes Lily Tomlin as Ernestine look like a genius. "Is this the party to whom I'm speaking" - Showing my age.....

    Siri should never have been placed under Eddy Cue. He probably shouldn’t have iCloud under him either. I’m glad Apple now has an SVP for AI/ML. I wish Cook would have decided to do that back in 2012 when Forstall left.
    cornchipScot1patchythepirate
  • Reply 10 of 60
    Siri and Apple maps both have the same problem: Apple Search.  Siri is usually right on in turning what I said into text.  It is what it does with that text that things go wrong.  Beside the whole general here is a web page, the results are often wrong.  If I take the exact same words (including the few that Siri does get wrong) and type them into Google, it gets it right.  

    Apple Maps is the same way.  If I give it an exact address, the directions and interface are perfect.  But if the address is slightly off it might direct you a few states over.  I had one time where I gave it an address and the suffix was wrong (street vs avenue) but the rest of the address including the zip code was right.  It actually gave me directions to another town.  I looked up the correct address in google and pasted it into apple maps and then I was fine.  

    If they can fix Apple Search, both products will be so much better.
    cornchippropodkitatitgilly33patchythepiratelolliverJWSCimatschlack
  • Reply 11 of 60
    Excellent news. 

    Now, Apple, please do the same with whomever is in charge of that unmitigated disaster called iTunes. Thank you. 
    FatmanABiteaDayberndogmobirdpatchythepiratebeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 12 of 60
    ericesqueericesque Posts: 10unconfirmed, member
    This is good and bad news. Good news is that Apple is righting the ship on their Siri strategy. The bad news is if they're currently righting the ship we're years away from a competitive Siri. I was hoping drastic improvements were already in the works. Instead this underscores the fact that Siri Intents were a stop gap. Siri shortcuts has been fun, but it's an API, not AI.
    agilealtitudepatchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 60
    I had high hopes for John Giannendrea.  My concern was that he wouldn't given enough latitude and could leave before making an impact.  This is a sign in the right direction. Apple has the money and cache to dominate any tech field they choose to compete in, so there's no reason to believe they can't be a top player in AI going forward.
    gilly33patchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 60
    FatmanFatman Posts: 242member
    Long overdue. They don’t just need to be on par with Amazon and Google, they need to change the game completely. Hire the best and brightest and let them loose.
    gilly33patchythepirateJWSCwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 60
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,595member
    The whole endeavour of AI/ML is a difficult one for Apple given the company's (rightful) approach to privacy. Tesla can boast millions of driving miles contributing to improvements in their vehicle's AI, Google can look at what web page someone who entered a search term selects as feedback on performance but when SIRI gets a request wrong or serves up less than useful information, how does Apple learn of it? Re-asking a query phrased differently might help but I wonder how many users bother. For me, SIRI is very useful in setting alarms and reminders and even in performing calculations but AI/ML is advancing at an incredible pace and only a very capable research program I suspect will keep/make Apple's offerings relevant. Interesting discussion.
    gilly33kamiltonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 60
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 1,998member
    I don’t think Siri is as bad as a number of people think.  I have a couple Amazon Dots and a Google Mini, and a few other things to play around with.  They all have their pros and cons.  I play with all three of them and Siri can hold it’s own.  Siri Shortcuts has also been a huge plus and can fill in some missing holes you may have.  Nothing is perfect, but Siri gets a bad rap.  Other others are over hyped.
    fh-aceStrangeDayslolliverwatto_cobradocno42
  • Reply 17 of 60
    ksecksec Posts: 1,549member
    Siri, like Apple's Maps, was mis-managed by Forstall. Then handed over to Eddie Cue, who had no ability in AI. Finally, Craig got the mandate. It seems Craig realized that AI / NLP is THE future and needed a fully dedicated expert. My guess he told Tim to hire the best and give him carte blanche, C-level authority. I'm total FanBoy, but Siri is terrible. It makes Lily Tomlin as Ernestine look like a genius. "Is this the party to whom I'm speaking" - Showing my age.....
    It wasn't mis managed. Apple wanted a Google Map competitor within two years of work while giving less than one tenth of a budget to a group of people with little experience in Map products. And 7 years later Apple Map is still no competitor to Google Map. 

    Same with Siri, there is only so much you can do with the privacy stand and much smaller amount of Data Apple had. Siri, in terms of Multi lingo does better than Google. I mean Amazon Dots isn't even in many countries.

    I wish people take a look at Apple from a Global perspective, it really isn't just your Home or US market anymore. Apple generate 60% of their revenue outside US.

    The focus of long term research sounds alarming to me. Out of all the improvement that Apple needs to be done, Siri is the one I least concern about, and yet they decide to make the cut there.
    mike54
  • Reply 18 of 60
    LatkoLatko Posts: 252member
    Siri, like Apple's Maps, was mis-managed by Forstall. Then handed over to Eddie Cue, who had no ability in AI. Finally, Craig got the mandate. It seems Craig realized that AI / NLP is THE future and needed a fully dedicated expert. My guess he told Tim to hire the best and give him carte blanche, C-level authority. I'm total FanBoy, but Siri is terrible. It makes Lily Tomlin as Ernestine look like a genius. "Is this the party to whom I'm speaking" - Showing my age.....
    That’s a gross simplification - if not falsification. The original Siri developers never got along with Apple after it bought the product, as Apple didn’t want to implement the modular structure they considered necessary for scaled development. Apple then made its own decisions that weren’t very wise from a developer perspective (but might or might not have been preferable for other reasons such as security) In the end, the devs moved out. Forstall was intelligent enough to understand the essence of software development. I don’t think he was to blame. Actually, he never was - also in the Maps drama he had the right vision but didn’t get it adopted in the organisation. Anyway, handing over responsibilities to Cue is....what should I say...the fastest way to elevate the problematic to the desastrous ?
    edited February 2 patchythepiratehammeroftruthwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 60
    Latko said:
    Siri, like Apple's Maps, was mis-managed by Forstall. Then handed over to Eddie Cue, who had no ability in AI. Finally, Craig got the mandate. It seems Craig realized that AI / NLP is THE future and needed a fully dedicated expert. My guess he told Tim to hire the best and give him carte blanche, C-level authority. I'm total FanBoy, but Siri is terrible. It makes Lily Tomlin as Ernestine look like a genius. "Is this the party to whom I'm speaking" - Showing my age.....
    That’s a gross simplification - if not falsification. The original Siri developers never got along with Apple after it bought the product, as Apple didn’t want to implement the modular structure they considered necessary for scaled development. Apple then made its own decisions that weren’t very wise from a developer perspective (but might or might not have been preferable for other reasons such as security) In the end, the devs moved out. Forstall was intelligent enough to understand the essence of software development. I don’t think he was to blame. Actually, he never was - also in the Maps drama he had the right vision but didn’t get it adopted in the organisation. Anyway, handing over responsibilities to Cue is....what should I say...the fastest way to elevate the problematic to the desastrous ?
    What vision did Forstall have?
  • Reply 20 of 60
    Latko said:
    Siri, like Apple's Maps, was mis-managed by Forstall. Then handed over to Eddie Cue, who had no ability in AI. Finally, Craig got the mandate. It seems Craig realized that AI / NLP is THE future and needed a fully dedicated expert. My guess he told Tim to hire the best and give him carte blanche, C-level authority. I'm total FanBoy, but Siri is terrible. It makes Lily Tomlin as Ernestine look like a genius. "Is this the party to whom I'm speaking" - Showing my age.....
    That’s a gross simplification - if not falsification. The original Siri developers never got along with Apple after it bought the product, as Apple didn’t want to implement the modular structure they considered necessary for scaled development. Apple then made its own decisions that weren’t very wise from a developer perspective (but might or might not have been preferable for other reasons such as security) In the end, the devs moved out. Forstall was intelligent enough to understand the essence of software development. I don’t think he was to blame. Actually, he never was - also in the Maps drama he had the right vision but didn’t get it adopted in the organisation. Anyway, handing over responsibilities to Cue is....what should I say...the fastest way to elevate the problematic to the desastrous ?
    What vision did Forstall have?
    He probably wanted Maps to look like AAA trip tics in a skeuomorphic kind of way. 
    JWSC
Sign In or Register to comment.