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Apple is filling out its secretive European lab with poached Google AI experts

Apple is looking to catch up and develop AI models and products that rival competitors.

Published onApril 30, 2024

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Aamir Siddiqui / Android Authority
  • Apple has created a secretive lab in Zurich dedicated to AI research.
  • The company has gone on a hiring spree, particularly targeting AI experts from Google.
  • The goal is to develop new AI models and products that can rival its competitors.

Although Google, Microsoft, and other major tech players have gotten a head start in the AI race with products like Gemini, Copilot, and more, the Apple is looking to turn the tables. The Cupertino firm has reportedly created a new secretive laboratory dedicated to AI research and is rounding up some of the best talent in the industry to lead it.

According to a report from the Financial Times, Apple has been on a hiring spree to fill out its new Zurich-based research laboratory known as “Vision Lab.” The tech giant has reportedly been advertising jobs in generative AI in two locations in the city, one of which a neighbor told the outlet they weren’t even aware of the office’s existence.

The goal of this endeavor appears to be to build a team that can develop new AI models and products that can rival Apple’s competitors. And to accomplish this mission, Apple is targeting industry experts, particularly from Google.

The report mentions that Apple has so far been able to attract at least 36 specialists from Google since 2018. Some of these key former Google members include John Giannandrea, who previously led Google Brain, which has since merged with DeepMind. Another notable figure is Samy Bengio, who was one of Google’s top AI scientists. Ruoming Pang, who led Google’s AI speech recognition research, was also poached by Apple.

In addition to hiring, Apple has also been engaged in acquisitions, acquiring about two dozen start-ups in the past decade, one of which was Ruslan Salakhutdinov’s Perceptual Machines. Salakhutdinov told the outlet that Apple is focused on doing “as much as you can on the device.” Previous reports have mentioned that the tech giant is working on on-device AI applications.

If you’re wondering why Apple has taken this long to dip its toe into the generative AI pool, it appears there was a reason. Salakhutdinov says Apple’s slow rollout was due to its concern over LLM’s tendency to offer incorrect or problematic answers. “I think they are just being a little bit more cautious because they can’t release something they can’t fully control,” said Salakhutdinov.

While it remains unknown when Apple will start launching AI products, it’s believed we could catch a glimpse of them as soon as WWDC 2024. CEO Tim Cook also revealed in an annual shareholder meeting that there would be more news on explicit AI features later this year.

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