Apple Engineers Creating ChatGPT Tech Jumped Ship to Google: Report

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A new report from The Information spells out how Apple is struggling in the artificial intelligence race, even losing some top engineers to Google that were working on similar technology used by the likes of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Google managed to lure three top engineers away from Apple to work on large-language models (LLMs) similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, reports Wayne Ma from The Information.

Srinivasan Venkatachary, Steven Baker, and Anand Shukla, who previously helped modernize Apple’s search technology, joined Google late last year, believing it to be a better environment for their LLM research.

These models, capable of understanding language and generating human-like responses, have become a hot commodity in the tech world as of late. The engineers’ move to Google was reportedly driven by personal appeals from the CEOs of both companies.

Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, personally convinced the trio to join his team, while Apple’s Tim Cook made unsuccessful attempts to retain them.

At Google, the engineers are now focused on reducing the cost of training and improving the accuracy of LLMs, as well as developing products based on these models. Their departure from Apple underscores the intense competition among tech giants for top talent in the rapidly growing field of artificial intelligence and natural language processing.

The full paywalled report seen by MacRumors also dives into how the teams behind Siri were mixed into which direction to steer the struggling voice assistant, which is the worst of all available right now.

Apparently, Cook and other executives wanted Siri’s responses to be pre-written by staff, instead of AI-generated to prevent embarrassing responses. Some decisions even made iPhone pricing absent from Siri’s replies, instead sending customers to the Apple website instead.

In 2019, Apple’s Siri team developed a project called “Blackbird,” which aimed to create a lightweight version of Siri running on iPhones instead of the cloud to improve performance and privacy.

However, two senior leaders on the Siri team pushed for a competing project called “Siri X,” which focused on moving Siri’s processing on-device for privacy reasons. Eventually, hundreds of employees working on Blackbird were assigned to Siri X, leading to the demise of the Blackbird project. By 2021, Siri X was mostly completed, and many of Siri’s functions are now processed locally.

Siri is by far the worst assistant right now. It is hands-down the most frustrating virtual assistant to use when compared to Google Assistant, for example. There’s no inclination to use Siri when it can only get things right half the time.

With Apple’s rumoured headset to appear soon at WWDC, it’ll interesting to see if an improved version of Siri will appear or not.