Apple’s Secrecy Policy Stifles Artificial Intelligence Development


Apple’s secrecy policy has turned against the company, at least so it seems according to a report from Bloomberg. While the majority of big players in the field, such as Google, Microsoft, Baidu, and Facebook, are present at conferences and their researchers continuously publish papers, Apple keeps its advancements in the field behind closed doors.

In fact, Apple’s secrecy policy is so strict that its researchers have been told to lock their office doors whenever they leave, and teams working to make the company’s software smarter are not told what similar teams are doing, people familiar with the matter have told Bloomberg.

The problem in the field is the small pool of potential hires. Thanks to its policy, Apple is at risk of turning off promising graduate students, because they want to be part of the scientific community, and the same goes for industry stars.

“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.”
What makes developing AI different from a mobile operating system—apart from the uncharted technical territory—is the small pool of potential hires. “The really strong people don’t want to go into a closed environment where it’s all secret,” Bengio says. “The differentiating factors are, ‘Who are you going to be working with?’ ‘Am I going to stay a part of the scientific community?’ ‘How much freedom will I have?’?”

Despite its silence, Apple is looking to expand its AI team: A quick search in its jobs listings reveals 42 open positions mentioning “artificial intelligence” and 120 including the words “machine learning”.

Apple seems to be aware that its secrecy policy is keeping talent away from the company, so the word is on the street that it’s planning to publish its first major AI paper, Bloomberg has learned. Other details remain under wraps.