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Apple hires its first director of AI research

Carnegie Mellon professor Ruslan Salakhutdinov has been chasing one of the holy grails of machine learning.

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Ruslan Salakhutdinov

Photo by Carnegie Mellon University

Apple is getting serious about artificial intelligence. How serious? It's just hired its first director of AI. And not just anyone -- it's hired Ruslan Salakhutdinov, an associate professor in machine learning at one of the top institutions for AI, Carnegie Mellon University.

Salakhutdinov has been working on some pretty intense AI research. He primarily researches deep learning and neural networks, where computers learn from a large pool of examples. Carnegie Mellon is at the forefront of this field of research, but Salakhutdinov's research takes it a step farther -- he's trying to figure out how to get AI to learn from raw data.

This is called "unsupervised learning." Typically, learning algorithms are fed annotated data; their learning is at least partially supervised. This "holy grail" is going to be tricky to accomplish, but Salakhutdinov has the chops. Since 2009, he's published at least 42 papers on machine learning.

According to a Tweet from Salakhutdinov, he's going to be maintaining his position at Carnegie Mellon. He also posted an Apple job listing seeking research scientists for his new department.

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