Apple acquired an AI startup named Xnor.ai and ended the startup’s work for the US government. The startup was involved in the controversial Project Maven of the Pentagon but the involvement has now been ended.
Project Maven is a project with an aim to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create systems that can analyze the imagery captured by surveillance drones. A lot of people working in the tech industry protested against their companies taking up such military based projects with the government.
A notable company which suffered from the backlash it received from its employees was Google. As a result, Google finally decided to not renew its contract after it had ended last year. A company of Peter Thiel named Palantir involved in surveillance drones replaced Google to do the job for the government.
The startup acquired by Apple Xnor.ai primarily used AI to detect objects in images captured by the military surveillance drones. The company did develop some great tech – it was able to create a chip capable of human detection powered by a coin sized battery. The chip is reportedly so efficient that it could work for decades on a coin sized battery.
It is believed that Apple bought the AI startup to use its person/human detection algorithms in its smartphones and possibly in the future for its AR glasses. Apple is believed to have bought Xnor.ai for around $200 million.
It was The Information that first reported the news of Apple ending the Xnor.ai’s work with the Pentagon. Xnor.ai had worked with Clarifai another AI startup during its work on the Project Maven. It makes sense that Apple ditched the government project as the company is into commercial products and not keen on building military applications.
Apple declined to comment on the topic of Xnor.ai’s acquisition.