Get smart about Ap­ple’s ma­chine learn­ing re­search

The iPhone maker lifts the veil on its progress in artificial in­tel­li­gence

Mac|Life - - START - BY Michelle Fitzsim­mons & Alan Stone­bridge

Ap­ple placed a lot of em­pha­sis on its ma­chine learn­ing de­vel­op­ments dur­ing WWDC in June, even dur­ing the pub­licly broad­cast key­note. Now, ahead of the launch of its next-gen­er­a­tion op­er­at­ing sys­tems, which will en­able devel­op­ers to more eas­ily use ma­chine learn­ing in their apps, it has fol­lowed up with a web­site ded­i­cated to pub­li­ciz­ing its ma­chine learn­ing re­search.

The Ap­ple Ma­chine Learn­ing Jour­nal is a plat­form where Ap­ple en­gi­neers will post about “their work us­ing ma­chine learn­ing tech­nolo­gies to help build in­no­va­tive prod­ucts for mil­lions of peo­ple around the world.” This fol­lows last year’s an­nounce­ment that Ap­ple would be­gin pub­lish­ing its artificial in­tel­li­gence (AI) re­search.

At the time of writ­ing there’s one post on the jour­nal, “Im­prov­ing the Re­al­ism of Syn­thetic Images”. Though pub­lished else­where before, this tweaked ver­sion pro­vides an in-depth yet ac­ces­si­ble look at tech­niques used to take images gen­er­ated by a sim­u­la­tor and make them look more re­al­is­tic.

The goal of this is to im­prove train­ing for ma­chine learn­ing sys­tems based on images that, while made by an artificial sys­tem, look more like the real thing.

Why not use real pho­tos to be­gin with? Ap­ple says it’s ac­tu­ally cheaper and eas­ier to use syn­thetic images be­cause there’s no data la­bel­ing cost.

Re­searchers stand to ben­e­fit from this shar­ing of knowl­edge and find­ings. Hope­fully the jour­nal will also lead to greater public aware­ness and un­der­stand­ing of ma­chine learn­ing and AI, as well as what Ap­ple’s do­ing with them.

Ap­ple is join­ing other tech gi­ants in pub­li­ciz­ing AI re­search for gen­eral read­er­ship; Google and Face­book, for ex­am­ple, of­ten blog about what they’re do­ing with ma­chine learn­ing. Artificial in­tel­li­gence is in many ways the next big bat­tle ground in tech. Nearly ev­ery ma­jor con­sumer tech com­pany has its own dig­i­tal as­sis­tant that gets smarter over time as it learns more about you.

There are also re­ports AI will be a ma­jor fea­ture of the iPhone 8, with the 10th an­niver­sary iPhone in­clud­ing a chip ded­i­cated to it.

Mean­while, Ap­ple’s jour­nal un­der­scores the em­pha­sis on this sub­ject that was ev­i­dent at WWDC. Not only is it pro­vid­ing a ded­i­cated home for all to see this re­search, it’s also en­cour­ag­ing ma­chine learn­ing re­searchers, stu­dents, en­gi­neers, and devel­op­ers to reach out with ques­tions and com­ments by email­ing ma­chine-learn­ing@ap­ple.com.

Plus, Ap­ple is putting its money where its mouth is: At the bot­tom of the page is a prom­i­nent link to Jobs at Ap­ple, no doubt in the hope that am­ple AI tal­ent will ap­ply.

The first post on Ap­ple’s ma­chine learn­ing blog.

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