Artificial intelligence researchers at Apple are going to start publishing some of their work and engaging more with the wider academic community.
Russ Salakhutdinov, director of AI research at Apple and a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, made the announcement at the NIPS conference in on Tuesday, according to a series of tweets from conference attendees.
The Californian tech giant has traditionally kept research breakthroughs to itself, seeing any developments as valuable intellectual property (IP), so this is a major change in direction. Companies like Google and Facebook already allow their employees to publish their research across a number of fields, including AI. Yann LeCun, Facebook's AI director, told last month that Apple's closed off approach could hinder its ability to hire the best people in the field of AI.
Describing how he gets the most talented software engineers in the world to come and work on Facebook's AI efforts, LeCun said: "Offering researchers the possibility of doing open research, which is publishing their work.
"In fact, at FAIR [Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research], it’s not just a possibility, it’s a requirement," he said in London. "So, [when] you’re a researcher, you assume that you’re going to publish your work. It’s very important for a scientist because the currency of the career as a scientist is the intellectual impact. So you can’t tell people 'come work for us but you can’t tell people what you’re doing' because you basically ruin their career. That’s a big element."
Apple is developing AI to make products like Siri, the personal assistant that sits inside iPhone, iPad, and Mac, that bit smarter. It's also possible that Apple is developing AI for autonomous cars and other products that are yet to be announced. It's likely that majority of Apple's AI research takes place at its headquarters in Cupertino but the iPhone maker also has a number of satellite AI outposts around the world, including a secret Siri lab in Cambridge, UK.