Reuters says Apple is looking to significantly increase the number of artificial intelligence specialists it employs to help provide an overall better Siri experience. But, Apple is still committed to user privacy.
As part of its push, the company is currently trying to hire at least 86 more employees with expertise in the branch of artificial intelligence known as machine learning, according to a recent analysis of Apple job postings. The company has also stepped up its courtship of machine-learning PhD’s, joining Google, Amazon, Facebook and others in a fierce contest, leading academics say.
Machine learning requires lots and lots of user data to figure out what a user can possibly say. Google Now is incredibly fast because it sends all user data to its server to be analyzed. Whilst Apple tries to use the least amount of its users data, which makes it more difficult to increase Siri’s intelligence.
Apple SVP of software engineering, Craig Federighi says iOS 9 will be “adding intelligence throughout the user experience in a way that enhances how you use your device but without compromising your privacy.”
While Apple is dedicated to privacy, the company does keep Siri queues for up to two years on Apple’s servers, however, anonymously. Which is an unusually long time for Apple as some of its services such as Apple Maps only keeps data for up to 15 minutes, says a former Apple employee.
The jump in artificial intelligence specialists may not be as many employees as Reuters makes it sound.
One former Apple employee in the area, who asked not to be named to protect professional relationships, estimated the number of machine learning experts had tripled or quadrupled in the past few years.
Siri launched in 2011 alongside the iPhone 4s and the tripling or quadrupling in a relatively small group doesn’t mean much.