Don’t look now, but Apple has hired another big name AI expert away from Google Brain. A year ago it was John Giannandrea who they managed to lure away from Sunnyvale. Now they have reportedly poached Senior Staff Research Scientist Ian Goodfellow, as well.
Goodfellow is well known in the AI community for creating General Adversarial Networks, commonly referred to as GANs. They contain two neural networks, one of which generates fake data and another that recognizes the fake data and compares it to real data. This technology has proven to be useful in training neural networks but has also resulted in downsides like “deepfake” fase-swapping pictures that are almost impossible to distinguish from real.It is also feared that GANs could make fake news pieces more difficult to spot, as well.
At Apple, Mr Goodfellow will be the Director of Machine Learning in the Special Projects Group. It will certainly be interesting to track where this goes, as it sounds like he was hired for a specific project. Someone with his stature at Google likely wouldn’t make a move unless both the pay and the project were just right, so hopefully this is an indication that something interesting is on the horizon.
As for the impact this hire will have on Apple, it’s hard to tell. While Giannandrea and Goodfellow are both notable pulls from a major competitor, it takes a lot more than two guys to move the needle for Apple’s AI and machine learning initiatives. However, what these two hires, as well as Michael Schwekutsch, who was recently pulled from Tesla for Apple’s Project Titan, show is that Apple is committed to competing for top talent across their organization. That is where improvement starts. As long as they keep it up, eventually we should start to see Apple catching up in some of these areas.