- Apple is having a hard time convincing workers that Siri can keep up with new AI rivals.
- Apple lost three top engineers working on AI technology to Google, The Information reported.
- It's the latest example of how far behind Apple is seen to be on AI versus Google and OpenAI.
Apple has lost three top engineers working on ChatGPT-like technology to Google, in a sign the iPhone-maker is struggling to supercharge its AI efforts and Siri as large language models go mainstream.
The trio had been working on frontier AI tech but left late last year, The Information reported after speaking to dozens of former employees.
Srinivasan Venkatachary, Steven Baker and Anand Shukl quit because they believed Google was a better place to work on the large language models underlying tools like ChatGPT, which went viral on its release in late November.
They were personally poached by Google CEO Sundar Pichai after shunning Apple boss Tim Cook's efforts to keep them, the report said.
Linkedin shows that all three left Apple for Google through October and November last year.
Apple has been making efforts to bolster its AI credentials and to strengthen Siri, its consumer-facing AI assistant, bringing in former Googler John Giannandrea in 2018 to oversee its machine learning and AI strategy.
Siri has long been seen as weaker than rivals — one of the top ranking forums on Reddit is r/SiriFail, a running catalogue of the assistant's flubs. And last month, former Apple engineer John Burkey, who worked on Siri before leaving the company in 2016, told the New York Times that the assistant suffered from a clunky design that was hard to update and puts it behind ChatGPT.
That weakness looks acute as ChatGPT-maker OpenAI, Microsoft, and Google step up their focus on consumer-grade AI.
Former Apple employees who worked on AI told The Information that "organizational dysfunction and a lack of ambition" had proven to be crucial barriers in the company's ambitions to become a serious AI player, with few improvements made over the past five years.
Apple's challenges with Siri could come into sharper focus in the coming months. Investor appetite for AI continues to grow and tech grandees such as Bill Gates have described the tech as being "as revolutionary as mobile phones and the internet."
Critics have warned that many companies racing to get ahead in the generative AI space have been doing so despite serious issues the technology poses around misinformation, its potential for misuse, and the unforeseen consequences of bias.
Former Apple employees told The Information that Siri's responses are typically reviewed and edited by humans to avoid the kind of mistakes other AI bots have been shown to make, making its approach to AI a slower and more cautious one than rivals.
Apple did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.