Apple’s secrecy is hampering its AI development

According to a new report from Bloomberg, Apple’s artificial development efforts are being hampered by the company’s legendary penchant for secrecy as the company is finding it difficult to hire top engineers in the field.

While Apple researchers attended an artificial intelligence industry conference in Montreal last year, they kept a low profile and “didn’t say who they worked for unless asked.”

“Apple is off the scale in terms of secrecy,” says Richard Zemel, a professor in the computer science department at the University of Toronto. “They’re completely out of the loop.”

The aura of secrecy is huge at Apple, something that’s been profiled in the past, and apparently that’s still very much the case for teams dedicated to artificial intelligence development. In fact, according to the report, those who are working in this area within Apple are told to lock their office doors when they leave. On top of that, whatever individuals or teams are working on, it’s kept completely in the dark from other teams that might be working on similar areas or implementations.

Yoshua Bengio is a professor of Computer Science at the University of Montreal, and he says that Apple’s focus on secrecy will only hurt the company in this endeavor moving forward. Specifically, he says that if Apple keeps everything in-house, sectioned off and out of the science community’s circle, they’ll simply fall (or stay) behind its competitors:
“There’s no way they can just observe and not be part of the community and take advantage of what is going on,” Bengio says. “I believe if they don’t change their attitude, they will stay behind.”
A former employee estimated the number of machine learning experts working for Apple has tripled or quadrupled in the past few years. Whichever way you look at it, Apple appears to be ramping up its AI efforts. The question is, is this hiring spree related to improving Siri or is it indicative of a top secret project? 

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