Apple has captured another of Google's top artificial intelligence researchers as part of the ongoing battle between technology companies to get the best AI talent.
Ian Goodfellow is one of the most prominent names in artificial intelligence, and previously worked at Google and the OpenAI lab, founded by Elon Musk. But, as CNBC reported for the first time Goodfellow recently updated his LinkedIn profile to note that he now works at Apple as director of machine learning in the company's Special Projects group.
It is not the first time that Apple uses Google as an AI talent incubator, with the iPhonemaker driving away Goodfellow's former boss, AI's AI boss, John Giannandrea, last April.
AI is a key technology for technology companies and finding researchers who can drive cutting-edge products is a big challenge. In general, Google is considered the world's leading artificial intelligence company, but Apple also uses technology in all its products, which allows everything from facial recognition to photography. The company is also working to develop autonomous systems for vehicles, a project that certainly requires the best artificial intelligence engineers.
At age 34, Goodfellow is young to be an AI researcher with so much influence. But he is well known for his work in inventing a kind of artificial intelligence system known as a generative confrontation network or GAN.
GANs are two-part networks, consisting of a generator and a discriminator. The generator trains in a data set and then tries to replicate it. Show your work to the discriminator who tries to distinguish between the training data set and the new output. If you can tell the difference, send the generator to the drawing board to try again.
This sounds abstract, but GANs have proven to be wonderfully productive small systems. They are particularly good at generating false photos, videos, audio and text. Those portraits of imaginary people generated by AI? That was GANs. That software that turns your scribbles into photorealistic paintings? GANs again.
None of this necessarily suggests that Apple has a particular interest in generating false portraits or landscapes, but it shows that Goodfellow's work has been influential and has shaped the entire field of AI. It is without a doubt the kind of person you would want in your team. And who knows, maybe the GANs can finally improve Apple's inferior artificial intelligence assistant, Siri.