Facebook Opens AI Lab in Montreal (Sep 15, 2017)
Google’s AI Explosion in One Chart – MIT Technology Review (Mar 27, 2017)
One of the big problems with evaluating which company is ahead or behind in a field like AI is that there are few external signals – companies work on a variety of AI projects behind closed doors in their R&D departments, and many of them only surface when they’re built into products and services they bring to market. Some have suggested using patents as a way to measure leadership, and this article cites publication in scientific journals as another. Certainly, Google’s publishing is a sign that there’s lots of work going on, but it also reflects the (deliberately) quasi-academic culture at DeepMind, its big AI acquisition, while Apple is also slowly moving in this direction with regard to AI specifically. Neither patent filings nor academic papers, however, have a direct connection to using AI to provide better products and services, and that remains very difficult to measure.
Apple Publishes Its First Artificial Intelligence Paper (Dec 26, 2016)
Apple announced at a conference a few weeks ago that it would begin allowing its AI researchers to publish, a move intended to attract those in the field for whom this is standard practice. This is also part of Apple’s broader push to establish its AI credentials, countering the popular narrative that it’s behind big competitors like Google and Microsoft.
This is a big policy change for Apple, whose famous penchant for secrecy has hampered its efforts to hire and retain top AI researchers. We won’t see future Apple products and services leaked through this research, obviously – it will either be generalized enough to offer no clues, or will be published after the related consumer-facing products are released. But it should help ease the hiring challenges somewhat and neutralize one of the frequent criticisms of Apple’s AI efforts.