Apple has scored a “major coup” in the hiring of John Giannandrea, Google’s chief of search and artificial intelligence, The New York Times reports. Apple announced the hiring late yesterday, adding that Mr. Giannandrea will be in charge of Apple’s “machine learning an A.I. strategy” as one of the 16 key executives who report directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook. After joining Google in 2010, the 53-year-old Scotland-born Giannandrea became a leading force behind the push to integrate A.I. technology throughout Google’s products, including internet search, Gmail, and Google Assistant. Giannandrea originally came to Google with the company’s acquisition of Metaweb, a start-up that was building a “database of the world’s knowledge” that later became a key component in Google’s direct answer feature.
The hire marks a major victory for Apple, which has been considered by many analysts as lagging behind in artificial intelligence and machine learning, particularly in its Siri voice assistant technology when compared to Google’s Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. News broke on Monday that Giannandrea was stepping down as Google’s A.I. chief, leading many to consider him “the most eligible tech executive on the market” but obviously by the next day it became clear that he had simply be wooed away from Google in order to join Apple. In an email to staff members obtained by The New York Times, Apple CEO Tim Cook said about the hire, “Our technology must be infused with the values we all hold dear. John shares our commitment to privacy and our thoughtful approach as we make computers even smarter and more personal.”