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Apples latest announcements on its plans for AI are, well, boring
Pixar founder George Lucas might have given the world the word “Droid” before he sold the company to Apple’s Steve Jobs but now Apple CEO Tim Cook is making no secret of the fact that he wants the company to play its part in bringing Artificial Intelligence to the world.
This week he’s been spilling at least some of the beans on Apple’s plans for AI, although his vision seems more connected to machine learning rather than the AI technologies that would help to bring droids like C3PO and R2D2.
“We see AI as being horizontal in nature and running across all our platforms and products,” said Cook, following on to say, “we see it being used in ways that most people don’t even think about.”
That sounds grandoise – and, at first sight, it sounds like they have something amazing up their sleeves. So just what kind of unexpected use cases was he talking about? Well, he gave us three specific examples – using AI to increase the battery life on phones, making Apple Music recommendations and finally, and perhaps the most important of all of those – helping you remember where you parked your car.
Seriously, no announcements about Siri?
Personally, I have to say – if those are the “unexpected” use cases that Cook was talking about then it leaves me snoring in my chair. After all Google went one step better recently than using AI to optimise the battery life of their phones when they set their DeepMind platform to work to figure out a way to cut the power consumption in their hyperscale datacenters by a whacking 40% and as for Apple Music recommendations, meh, and then as for helping me find my car even if I was the most forgetful guy on the planet I have an app for that.
However – perhaps there’s a reprieve. Apparently, according to Cook, Apple have bigger plans for AI.
Last week Cook visited Japan and announced plans to open a new research and development center for “deep engineering” AI (which might – or might not allude to a focus on deep learning technologies) in Yokohoma, Japan which will compliment Apples other AI focused R&D centers such as the one in Seattle which Apple “inherited” when they bought Turi, a company that specialised in developing fast and scalable machine learning platforms, earlier this year.
Cook also noted that the company has teamed up with IBM to use their cognitive computing platform “Watson” to develop healthcare solutions for the elderly but this effort, which can be seen as somewhat separate to Apple’s consumer AI ambitions forms part of a more concerted push to sell more iPads and Apple Watches into the healthcare industry which, it’s hoped, will help hospitals streamline care and create better outcomes for their patients.
Ultimately the implication of all of these announcements leads us to conclude that Apple is investing in AI, albeit in a cautious and controlled manner, and that it plans to use the technology to deliver new features and benefits to its gigantic user base but overall the announcements, particularly when set against the backdrop of some of the spectacular breakthroughs and achievements we’re seeing from other companies in the AI field, can’t help but leave us, well… bored. And who thought we’d say that about AI.
Now, where did I park my car?