Apple has hired Sami Benjo, a prominent artificial intelligence researcher who previously worked at Google. Benjo will head a “new artificial intelligence research unit”
Benjo will work directly under John Janandrea, Apple’s senior vice president of machine learning and AI strategy. Janandrea himself was the head of AI at Google (he worked there for eight years) before boarding a ship to work at 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, superficial content suggestions and applications that users may want to use, power smart search features in its various software offerings, help reject the palm of the hand for users, who write with the iPad pencil accessory, and more.
Benjo was part of a team of AI professionals who left Google to protest the company’s layoffs against its own AI ethics researchers (Margaret Mitchell and Timnit Gebru) after those researchers expressed concern about the diversity and approach of Google to Ethical Considerations Around New AI Applications and Machines Learning Benjo expressed his support for Mitchell and Gebru, and he left voluntarily after they were released.
During his 14 years at Google, Benjo worked on artificial intelligence applications such as speech and image analysis, among other things. Neither Benjo nor Apple have said exactly what they will explore in their new role in Cupertino.