Why Apple is struggling to become an artificial-intelligence powerhouse

“In 2011, Apple became the first company to place artificial intelligence in the pockets of millions of consumers when it launched the voice assistant Siri on the iPhone,” Elizabeth Dwoskin reports for The Washington Post. “Six years later, the technology giant is struggling to find its voice in AI.”

“Analysts say the question of whether Apple can succeed in building great artificial-intelligence products is as fundamental to the company’s next decade as the iPhone was to its previous one. But the tech giant faces a formidable dilemma,” Dwoskin reports. “AI programming demands a level of data collection and mining that is at odds with Apple’s rigorous approach to privacy, as well as its positioning as a company that doesn’t profile consumers. Moreover, Apple’s long-standing penchant for secrecy has made the company less desirable in the eyes of potential star recruits, who hail from the country’s top computer science departments and are attracted to companies that publish research.”

MacDailyNews Take: So pay the top people enough to forgo the publishing limelight. It’s not like Apple doesn’t have enough money.

“But Monday’s announcements come as other technology companies have released similar innovations and have already spent billions on the burgeoning AI arms race,” Dwoskin reports. “That has put Apple in the disadvantaged position of trying to lead in an area where it has fallen behind — and where the effort cuts against core aspects of the company’s secretive culture.”

“Apple’s forays into AI have also been slower than its peers’ because it’s been reluctant to embrace the data-mining practices of rivals Google and Facebook, experts said. The company has spent considerable resources building additional layers of privacy,” Dwoskin reports. “Unlike Google and Facebook, which are primarily advertising companies that collect massive amounts of intimate data to profile their users, Apple believes in limiting the amount of user data it collects.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It is still very early and Apple can catch up (and maybe already has; see related articles list below) while preserving user privacy that, one of these days, is very likely to bite the ass of those like Google and Facebook who play fast and loose with users’ privacy and data.

Apple’s Artificial Intelligence Director discusses computers that can remember – March 29, 2017
New hire could be critical step toward attracting high-profile AI research talent to Apple – October 18, 2016
Apple hires a big brain in AI to smarten up Siri – October 17, 2016
Apple transforms Turi into dedicated machine learning division to build future product features – August 31, 2016
An exclusive inside look at how artificial intelligence and machine learning work at Apple – August 24, 2016
Apple rumored to be taking big piece of Seattle-area office market in expansion – August 12, 2016
Why Apple will become a leader in artificial intelligence – August 8, 2016
Apple buys machine-learning startup Turi for $200 million – August 6, 2016
Apple touts Artificial Intelligence in iOS and opens ‘crown jewels’ to developers – June 14, 2016
Smartphones to die out within five years, replaced by artificial intelligence – survey – December 9, 2015
Apple’s extreme secrecy retarding its artificial intelligence work – October 30, 2015
Apple hires NVIDIA’s artificial intelligence director – October 24, 2015
Apple acquires advanced artificial intelligence startup Perceptio – October 5, 2015
Apple buys artificial intelligence natural language start-up VocalIQ – October 2, 2015

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Ladd” for the heads up.]


  1. I can appreciate Apples approach to AI and keeping my privacy as a high priority. In my book Apple has already won the AI race. BTW Siri works just fine for me.

    1. And when we remeber that the Siri speaks Arabic, Cantonese, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Mandarin, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai and Turkish while the Alexa speaks only English and German and the Google Home speaks only English… Apple has much, much more in the game than it´s so called competitors.

  2. There’s a reason Apple has been putting incredible power in our pockets. It will be used to do AI locally, preserving privacy. In iOS 11, that data is shared by your devices, building and even better profile. As a iOS 11 beta user, I can already see the advance. On websites I search, it suggests things I’ve searched for or viewed before like vintage radios. Suggesting time to leave, figuring out that I’m leaving the grocery store likely for home based on previous behavior and offering travel time estimate. Apple is getting there.

    1. BTW, if you haven’t seen the Star Wars AI game demo at WWDC, you must take a look. Apple’s AI is far superior, estimating existing lighting and matching lighting on AI object including casting natural shadows and light sources in the AI affect the live scene too. All perfectly scaled and locked together. As a post production professional, I was blown away with what Apple has done.

      1. It sounds like you are describing an AR (augmented reality) demo, not an AI (artificial intelligence) demo. There are of course some applications of AI to AR, but the expertise that Apple is trying to cultivate has a much wider purpose than just AR.

  3. In many cases, the top people are at the top because they are more motivated by the research than the money or fame. Collaboration is very important to advancing science, and no amount of money is going to lure them away. You need to put together a team of experts that the top people want to work with. It’s not that different from what Steve Jobs said about A players wanting to work with A players.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.