Apple’s secrecy is hampering its AI development

iOS 9 Proactive, Siri and Search

Siri, Apple’s personal digital assistant, which is present on iOS, has plenty of functionality, but as far as artificial intelligence is concerned, Apple’s own culture could be slowing things down in a big way.

According to a report published by Bloomberg, the aura in which Apple keeps around its software and hardware development teams, with a huge focus on secrecy, is preventing the company from making any real strides forward in artificial intelligence development. One area in which Apple is simply not showing up is conferences dedicated to the development of AI, especially a recent one called the Neural Information Processing Systems, where Google and Microsoft, along with other companies, were in attendance.

Interestingly enough, Apple has actually had individuals show up at some of these conferences in the past, but they’ve never gone out of their way to make their presence known. That attendance has dipped, though, and some fear that Apple’s work in AI is severely lacking as a result. While other companies and organizations are freely sharing discoveries and information in regards to the advanced system, Apple seems to be doing the complete opposite.

The aura of secrecy is huge at Apple, something that’s been profiled in the past, and apparently that’s still very much the case for teams dedicated to artificial intelligence development. In fact, according to the report, those who are working in this area within Apple are told to lock their office doors when they leave. On top of that, whatever individuals or teams are working on, it’s kept completely in the dark from other teams that might be working on similar areas or implementations.

Yoshua Bengio is a professor of Computer Science at the University of Montreal, and he says that Apple’s focus on secrecy will only hurt the company in this endeavor moving forward. Specifically, he says that if Apple keeps everything in-house, sectioned off and out of the science community’s circle, they’ll simply fall (or stay) behind its competitors:

“There’s no way they can just observe and not be part of the community and take advantage of what is going on,” Bengio says. “I believe if they don’t change their attitude, they will stay behind.”

However, Apple is working on artificial intelligence and aiming to make its own implementation better. Recently, Apple acquired VocalIQ, a UK-based speech technology startup, and Perceptio, a startup focused on AI. What these two are doing for Apple now is unknown, obviously, but many believe that Apple’s focus moving forward, other than simply improving Siri, is to implement AI into its Apple Car project.

Siri has a laundry list of functionality, but even with Proactive, Apple’s latest attempt at making Siri even better at providing information and apps when necessary, many have pointed out that it pales in comparison to Google’s Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana, both of which have access to information outside of just what’s available on a user’s phone or tablet.

Still, Apple is working on AI, and some would suggest that the company’s focus on the user’s security, while still offering worthwhile features in Siri, make it worth it.

What do you say?

[via Bloomberg]