Well Played, Apple — The Brand’s Newest Secret Weapon

Questions, confusion, uncertainty -- these were the results of John Giannandrea’s announcement this past Monday that he was resigning from his position as Google’s Chief of Search and Artificial Intelligence.

Yet new words emerged as Tuesday ushered in the news of Mr. Giannandrea’s acceptance of a role with Apple in which he will oversee the tech giant’s machine learning and artificial intelligence strategy. Stolen. Poached. Coup d’etat. See it how you will, but this calculated move could serve to position Apple as a top A.I competitor on the market.

Who is John Giannandrea anyways?

Credit: Flickr, TechCrunch

Mr. Giannandrea is a Scotland native, fondly called J.G. by coworkers. Since 2010 when Google purchased Metaweb, he has acted as the Chief Technology Officer. Within the role, Giannandrea headed the push to integrate AI throughout all of Google’s products and platforms, including Gmail and the Google Assistant. Upon taking the helm of Apple’s AI, he will be one of sixteen executives currently reporting to Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook.

What does this mean for Google and Apple?

Despite the cries of a coup, this transfer of expertise from Google to Apple is a clear Apple victory. In the past, critics have been quick to call attention to Apple’s less effective AI systems and the company has been accused of falling behind the wave. With the knowledge of Mr. Giannandrea on board, Apple stands a real chance at regaining some ground on the ever-evolving AI front. Giannandrea has previously had positive and open-minded views towards the future of artificial intelligence. Whereas many worry that AI will render humans useless, he asserted in an MIT Technology Review interview that,

“What I object to is this assumption that we will leap to some kind of super-intelligent system that will make humans obsolete. I understand why people are concerned about it but I think it’s gotten too much airtime. I just see no technological basis to why this is imminent at all.”

For all intents and purposes, the change-over should bring exciting innovation for Apple enthusiasts while preserving the integrity of Apple’s employment structure. Better yet, this is only one of Apple’s recent power plays. They also recently brought on Carnegie Mellon professor, Rus Salakhutdinov.

As for Google, Jeff Dean, a Google pro of nineteen years, will take over Mr. Giannandrea’s former post. It remains unseen as to how this will impact the search engine giant in the long-term future. The continued success of Google’s AI under the reign of Giannadrea leaves Jeff Dean with a large pair of shoes to fill. Google will no doubt have to brainstorm new ideas to remain competitive.

Stay tuned to see what happens next! Let us know your Apple and Google predictions in the comments!

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