Apple poaches Google’s Scots AI expert Giannandrea

John Giannandrea

Apple has hired John Giannandrea, Google’s Scottish-born chief of search and artificial intelligence, in what is being called a major coup in its bid to catch up with the artificial intelligence technology of its rivals.

Apple said University of Strathclyde graduate Giannandrea will run Apple’s “machine learning and A.I. strategy,” and become one of 16 executives who report directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

“Our technology must be infused with the values we all hold dear,” said Cook in an email to Apple staff obtained by The New York Times.

“John shares our commitment to privacy and our thoughtful approach as we make computers even smarter and more personal.”

Giannandrea, 53, is from Bridge of Allan and is known to colleagues as J.G.

The New York Times reported that he helped lead the push to integrate A.I. throughout Google’s products, including internet search, Gmail and its own digital assistant, Google Assistant.

The Times reported that he joined Google in 2010 when it bought Metaweb, a start-up where he served as chief technology officer.

On the debate over whether humanity should be worried about improvements in A.I., Giannandrea told MIT Technology Review in an interview last year that the concerns were overblown.

“What I object to is this assumption that we will leap to some kind of superintelligent system that will then make humans obsolete,” Giannandrea said.

“I understand why people are concerned about it but I think it’s gotten way too much airtime.

“I just see no technological basis as to why this is imminent at all.”