What it is: Artificial intelligence (AI) researchers at Apple recently won a Best Paper Award at the 2017 Conference on Computer Vision & Pattern Recognition, one of the most sought after prizes in the field.
For the longest time, Apple refused to let their researchers publish papers. The rationale behind this was to keep the competition from following what Apple was doing, but the drawback to this was that many AI researchers refused to work at Apple because they didn’t want to keep their research private. Many researchers also wondered whether secrecy could actually hurt Apple by keeping their researchers from sharing ideas with others in the AI field.
Eventually, Apple let their researchers publish papers and in the first year of submitting papers, Apple researchers won a Best Paper Award for a computer vision paper. What’s notable about this award is that it proves that Apple isn’t behind in AI research as many critics have suggested.
Google has been testing self-driving cars for years, long before Apple started so people naturally thought Google has an insurmountable lead. While starting early can be a benefit, such an early head start can be lost if researchers from other companies come up with more creative and innovative solutions. AI research isn’t a matter of starting first and assuming you’ll always stay ahead forever. AI research is a new field that everyone is studying so there’s no fixed way to insure a lead in any part of AI research.
Spending more money and hiring more researchers won’t always be the answer because smaller teams of researchers with less money can still find an innovative solution that larger, better funded teams may overlook. AI research is a brand new field that’s ripe for pioneers from everywhere. The fact that Google got started with self-driving cars earlier than most everyone else is an advantage, but not an insurmountable one. Chances are good that researchers all over the world are ahead of Google in certain areas of autonomous technology while Google is ahead of everyone else in other areas.
Apple was first in commercially developing natural voice language processing with Siri, but despite being first, Amazon and Google seem to have caught up. Still, Siri has the advantage in recognizing more languages than its rivals, but its rivals appear better at understanding the context of spoken commands better.
So it’s likely that AI research will continue advancing from all different companies. Expect Apple to continue promoting AI. Already Apple is promoting machine learning for creating apps but this is just a first step. Right now, Apple’s machine learning option lets you take a trained machine learning file and use it. However, this trained machine learning file seems fixed. Once you use it, it never learns again. In the future, expect Apple to allow your apps to create their own machine learning models and constantly modify and improve its features.
AI is coming to smartphone and tablet apps along with computer programs for Windows and macOS. AI is the next rapidly growing field of the computer industry so expect to see more companies throwing around the terms of artificial intelligence on their products. AI is going to be a crucial element of software and computer development in the future. Apple’s latest prize award simply shows that Apple is not behind its rivals in AI research after all.