Apple is on the hunt for generative AI talent

Apple, like a number of companies right now, may be struggling with the role that the latest advancements in AI play and should play in its business. Only one thing Apple is confident is the fact that it wants to bring more generative AI talent into its company.

The Cupertino-based company has posted at least a dozen job openings on its careers page, seeking experts in generative AI. In particular, it is looking for machine learning specialists who are “passionate about building extraordinary autonomous systems” in the field. The job postings (some of which appear to cover the same position or solicit multiple applicants) first appeared on April 27, with the most recent published earlier this week.

The job postings come amid some mixed signals from the company around generative AI. During his Q2 earnings call earlier this month, CEO Tim Cook evaded giving specific answers to questions about what the company is doing in the region, but didn’t dismiss it either. While generative AI was “very interesting,” he said, Apple would be “deliberate and thoughtful” in its approach. Yesterday, the WSJ reported that the company had begun restricting the use of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and other third-party generative AI tools for some employees over concerns about ownership data being leaked through the platforms.

Those limitations are not new, nor are they unique to Apple. A number of companies – tech and non-tech – have set similar restrictions. Some to believe Apple’s policy had been in place for some time.

But more third-party apps are bringing in generative AI elements — it was only yesterday that OpenAI released its own ChatGPT iOS app — and Apple is reportedly working on its own generative AI products, according to the WSJ. Hiring more generative AI experts could help either or both goals.

We reached out to Apple earlier this week to comment on the job openings, but have not yet received a response.

The job openings are in teams that include Integrated System Experience, Input Experience NLP, Machine Learning R&D and the Technology Development Group in San Diego, the Bay Area and Seattle.

Some roles are specifically focused on visual generative AI applications, allowing machine learning experts to work on “visual generative modeling to drive applications in computational photography, image and video editing, 3D shape and motion reconstruction. [and] avatar generation.”

As we mentioned, it’s unclear exactly what these employees would be working on – new products or revamping existing ones – but the push to bring more generative AI talent to Apple shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

The company was one of the pioneers in the world of consumer AI applications with the launch of Siri voice assistant on the iPhone 2011, and for many years had a reputation as one of the largest technology companies identifying and recruiting AI talent – from other companies, from start-ups and, according to some, sometimes directly from university labs and PhD projects.

But while Apple has continued to build and improve the way it applies AI, more recently — along with other leviathans like Google and Amazon — it has been seen as lagging behind the latest wave of the technology. That wave, spearheaded by companies like (Microsoft-backed) OpenAI, Midjourney, and Stability.AI and their advancements in generative AI, takes simple verbal cues and returns detailed answers based on vast amounts of information knitted together.

Now we’ve seen some moves from those leviathans to catch up. Along with Google’s launch of Bard and a flurry of AI news from its big I/O developer event, a March article in The New York Times describes how Apple held an internal event to show off the work it’s doing and to encourage teams to be tested ran in ‘language-generating concepts’, large language models and other AI tools.

Because Apple is Apple, it will no doubt be looking for its own approach. Much of the work it’s done so far with visual AI technology, for example, has focused on on-device processing and privacy and building developer tools to support that.

Apple is hosting its developer-focused WWDC event next month, where people will be watching to see if it makes any generative AI announcements. In addition to the anticipated release of new software for the iPhone and iPad, many have predicted that it will finally provide details on its long-awaited AR/VR headset.

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