Apple to move its San Diego AI team to Austin

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According to a report from Bloomberg, Apple is about to close its AI department in San Diego, California. Apple has decided to shut down its 121-person artificial intelligence (AI) team in San Diego, California, which is responsible for enhancing the performance of its digital assistant, Siri. The team, known as Data Operations Annotations, will be relocated to Austin, Texas, to merge with the Texas-based team. This decision was made by Christine DeFilippo, a top deputy to Apple AI chief John Giannandrea.

Hey Siri

Members of the team received the notice on Wednesday. They must decide before the end of February. The decision they have to make is whether or not to go to Austin. Any staff that refuses the transfer option, will lose their jobs. This means that any staff that takes the job will have to move to Texas. Thankfully, the company is not sacking the San Diego team, it is only merging the team with the Austin team.

Reasons for the Shutdown

The shutdown is part of a reorganization effort within Apple’s AI department. The company aims to bring its Data Operations Annotation teams in the US together at a single location, where a majority of the team is already based. The San Diego team, which specializes in Siri’s usage in various languages, including Hebrew, English, Portuguese, Arabic, French, and multiple dialects of Spanish, will have the opportunity to continue their roles in Austin.

Impact on Employees

The relocation has come as a surprise to the San Diego employees, who were informed of the impending move. Employees have been given until the end of February to decide whether they will move to Austin. For those who choose not to relocate, Apple has set a termination date of April 26. The affected team has a presence in offices across China, India, Ireland, and Spain, playing a crucial role in evaluating Siri’s response accuracy to user queries.

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Some of these employees will have to move with their families while others will have to work apart from their families. While we do not expect all the staff to accept the move, it is good that Apple is doing everything it can to help keep employees employed. Apple is working hard to control costs and improve operational efficiency starting in the summer of 2022. According to Apple CEO, Tim Cook, layoffs will be a “last resort”. While Cook has not completely ruled out the possibility of layoffs, Apple is never quick to lay off its staff.

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Siri’s Future

Despite the shutdown of the San Diego AI team, Apple remains committed to San Diego and its growth. The company has been pouring vast resources into catching up in the AI field, and it is expected to announce its plans for large language models (LLMs) in June. Apple has also informed employees that they can apply for other positions within the company, but some believe they might not qualify for many roles due to their non-engineering backgrounds.

Final Words

The shutdown of Apple’s 121-person San Diego AI team marks a significant reorganization within the company’s AI department. The relocation to Austin will bring the Data Operations Annotations teams together, potentially impacting the future of Siri’s development and performance.

Author Bio

Efe Udin is a seasoned tech writer with over seven years of experience. He covers a wide range of topics in the tech industry from industry politics to mobile phone performance. From mobile phones to tablets, Efe has also kept a keen eye on the latest advancements and trends. He provides insightful analysis and reviews to inform and educate readers. Efe is very passionate about tech and covers interesting stories as well as offers solutions where possible.

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