Apple has recruited numerous experts from Google and established a clandestine European laboratory in Zurich.

These manoeuvres are indicative of the tech titan’s determination to assemble a strong team to rival competitors in the development of cutting-edge AI models and products.

A meticulous analysis by the Financial Times, involving scrutiny of hundreds of LinkedIn profiles, public job postings, and research papers, has unveiled Apple’s extensive hiring spree aimed at bolstering its global AI and machine learning workforce.

Since appointing John Giannandrea as its top AI executive in 2018, Apple has strategically attracted at least 36 specialists from Google, marking a significant influx of talent from its rival.

While the bulk of Apple’s AI cohort operates from offices in California and Seattle, the company has significantly expanded its presence in Zurich, Switzerland.

The “Vision Lab”

Renowned academic, Professor Luc Van Gool from ETH Zurich, revealed that Apple’s acquisitions of two local AI startups, FaceShift and Fashwell, paved the way for the establishment of a research facility known as the “Vision Lab” in Zurich.

The Zurich-based team has been instrumental in Apple’s exploration of foundational technologies powering innovative products such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot. Their research endeavours have primarily focused on advancing AI models capable of integrating textual and visual inputs to generate responses.

Despite Apple’s traditionally guarded approach regarding its AI initiatives, industry insiders speculate that the company is concentrating on implementing generative AI directly onto its mobile devices. This strategic move could revolutionise the functionality of AI-driven chatbots and applications by enabling them to operate using the device’s own hardware and software, rather than relying on cloud services housed in data centers.

While Apple’s shares have experienced a downturn this year, juxtaposed against the soaring stocks of its competitors, the company faces mounting pressure to unveil transformative AI features that could reinvigorate device sales.

Responsible innovation

Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has hinted at the company’s expansive research efforts across various AI technologies, emphasising a commitment to responsible innovation. Despite its discrete demeanour, Apple has been immersed in AI endeavours for over a decade, with flagship products like Siri exemplifying its early forays into neural networks.

Apple’s quest for AI prowess has led to significant personnel acquisitions, including luminaries such as Ruslan Salakhutdinov, a pivotal figure in the development of neural networks. Former Google stalwarts, including John Giannandrea and Samy Bengio, have also joined Apple’s AI ranks, underscoring the company’s strategic recruitment drive.

The culmination of Apple’s AI endeavours may be on the horizon, with industry watchers eagerly anticipating potential glimpses of generative AI features at the upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference. Analysts foresee the next iPhone evolving into a voice-activated personal assistant, potentially led by an enhanced Siri capable of interfacing with all applications through voice commands.

Apple’s meticulous approach to AI innovation underscores its commitment to delivering groundbreaking technologies that could redefine consumer experiences in the digital realm.






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.