Apple has hired Samy Bengio, a prominent AI researcher who previously worked at Google. Bengio will lead “a new AI research unit” within Apple, according to a recent report in Reuters. He is just the latest in a string of prominent AI leaders and employees Apple has hired from the search giant.
Bengio will work directly under John Giannandrea, Apple’s senior vice president of machine learning and AI strategy. Giannandrea himself led AI at Google (he worked there for eight years) before joining Apple in 2018. We interviewed him extensively last year about the growing role of machine learning in Apple’s software and services.
Apple uses machine learning to improve the quality of photos taken with the iPhone, suggest content and apps that users may want to use, power smart search functions in its various software offerings, write with the iPad’s pencil accessory, and much more.
Bengio was part of a cadre of AI professionals who left Google to protest the firing of its own AI ethics researchers (Margaret Mitchell and Timnit Gebru) after those researchers raised concerns about diversity and Google’s approach to ethical considerations around learning new applications of AI and machine. Bengio expressed his support for Mitchell and Gebru and left of his own accord after they were released.
In his 14 years at Google, Bengio worked on AI applications such as speech and image analysis. Neither Bengio nor Apple has said exactly what he will explore in his new role in Cupertino.