Apple Buys Turi Artificial Intelligence Start Up: ‘One Of Apple’s Biggest Steps Forward’ In AI

Apple by Kena Betancur c

Apple acquired Turi Inc. for $200 million in a very exciting purchase. This is the ultimate deal that may change how iPhones, iPads, and their entire product line operates. Unlike their previous purchases, which involved a single product, this buy is a total game changer, as award-winning tech journalist Mark Gurman explained to Bloomberg.

“Turi has a very vast portfolio of different services, platforms, and algorithms that Apple could use Across its entire portfolio… It is very much relevant across the product line… This is one of Apple’s biggest steps forward in artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

Apple has fallen behind other companies including Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Amazon, in the AI and machine learning fields, according to Gurman. This is something the company aims to change in a huge way, with their new purchase. Mark attributed their previous shortcomings to an atmosphere of secrecy that led to isolation in a field that requires a lot of outside collaboration.

Turi Inc. began its history as GraphLab, an open-source project that greatly benefited companies such as Pandora. The company was also called Dato not so long ago. The Turi team will remain in Seattle and it is doubtful that there will be any extensive personnel changes. The team is headed by Carlos Guestrin, University of Washington’s Amazon professor of machine learning.

Apple has been extremely concerned about user privacy, and this has led them away from collecting user data. User data is vital to AI functions that make recommendations to users, according to Recode. This has been a great obstacle in the development and evolution of Apple’s personal assistant, Siri.

Currently, Apple developers have been gingerly moving toward the use of differential privacy to protect individual users’ data to enhance Siri’s capabilities. User privacy commitments have been quite a development handicap. That could change, as they make use of the human resources recently acquired in the purchase of Turi.

Apple.s Tim Cook by Drew Angerer c
Turi Inc. projects are not exactly applications or finished products, but rather a set of tools that allow developers to build apps that use machine learning and artificial intelligence. The apps produced will automatically scale and tune. According to GeekWire, these project tools are very flexible and help to build apps that companies large and small can use, as well as features that could help individuals.

“The Turi Machine Learning Platform, GraphLab Create, Turi Distributed, and Turi Predictive Services — are largely designed to help large and small organizations make better sense of data. Use cases include recommendation engines, fraud detection, predicting customer churn, sentiment analysis, and customer segmentation.”

iPhone by Carl Court c
Turi Inc. perhaps has far more to offer in the long run in terms of human genius than the short term gains in AI made so far. Professor Carlos Guestrin leads an impressive team of innovative thinkers on the cutting edge of AI, according to Recode. Guestrin currently runs a highly-attended conference that meets regularly to discuss advances in the field. Will Apple allow him to continue this mind stimulating activity?

Apple’s confidentiality agreements could fly in the face of Turi employee culture. Open-source thinking evolving into corporate thinking overnight could be way too much to expect, even from geniuses. More importantly, how creative will they remain if they are sequestered? All of these issues are well worth ironing out gradually, but will Apple see the logic in that?

The Turi Inc. purchase has so far stirred only the instinctive Apple company secrecy, as GeekWire reports in a statement sent to them.

“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

Turi Inc. team leader Carlos Guestrin is following Apple policy so far, and declined to comment on the purchase.

[Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images]