Apple Releases Data on its AI Research

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a buzz word in tech circles these days.  Examples include Google’s Deep Mind project and IBM’s Watson.  Both AI programs have gain notoriety for winning high-profile competitions against human players and the programs are becoming increasingly integrated in our everyday life.

One potential laggard in this space has been Apple. While the company had promised to release information on its AI research little is known about Apple’s efforts to date. That changed when Ashish Shrivastava and the rest of the AI team at Apple submitted a paper with the company’s findings to the Cornell University Library.

Apple Artificial Intelligence AI
Stock Photo: HONG KONG – MAY 5, 2015: interior of Apple store. Apple Inc. is an American multinational technology company headquartered in Cupertino, California (Sorbis /

The paper outlines research into ‘Learning from Simulated and Unsupervised Images through Adversarial Training.’  This includes teaching computers how to recognize images.  Findings point to a ‘Simulated+Unsupervised (S+U)’ approach which uses images with embedded data to help computers ‘see’ object.

This represents a sea change in how researchers teach computers to see as previous approaches relied on showing computers real world objects and then trying to match that object with a library or stored images.

Granted, the paper is a bit wonkish but industry analysts noted that it might represent a breakthrough in an area which has lagged.

Steve Jobs Apple
Stock Photo: STOCKHOLM – APRIL 6: Mac with reflection of Steve Jobs in a iPhone 5 on table in room in black and white. April 6, 2014 in Stockholm, Sweden. Steve Jobs 1955-2011 (Stefan Holm /

Another reason why the paper is notable is that the company rarely releases its findings to the tech community. The ban was in keeping with the company’s proclivity for secrecy which dates to the early-80’s when Apple and Microsoft were battling to develop the winning operating system for the personal computer market.  Apple ultimately, lost out to Microsoft when the Steve Jobs shared key details of the OS with Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Apple Siri AI
Stock Photo: CUPERTINO, CA – DEC 9: Siri, the iPhone intelligent software assistant (Annette Shaff /

In terms of real world applications, the breakthrough could be used to give Apple’s personal assistant – Siri – additional functionality.  It is also believed that the research could lead to a slew of patent applications in the space as some observers believe the company has moved well beyond the results published in the paper.  This could lead to interesting developments in the company’s like of mobile phones and tablets.


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