Apple launches a machine learning blog to placate its researchers

Apple hasn’t always been very open about its technology or its research, but the company surprised everyone last year when AI director Russ Salakhutdinov announced that Apple would begin publishing its machine learning research. Shortly thereafter, it published its first AI paper in an academic journal and today Apple takes its transparency another step with the debut of its Machine Learning Journal.

In a short welcome post on the new blog, the company said, “Here, you can read posts written by Apple engineers about their work using machine learning technologies to help build innovative products for millions of people around the world.” And the post encourages researchers, students, engineers and developers to contact the journal with any questions or feedback.

The first and only research post so far describes the findings and methods from the academic paper Apple published last year. It’s all about how to use synthetic images, which are easier and cheaper to use than real photos, to train AI, and how to make sure those synthetic images look as real as possible. The post is fairly long with quite a few descriptive figures, graphs and GIFs mixed in.

Apple’s penchant for secrecy has likely kept some researchers from working for the company. In such competitive fields like AI and machine learning, researchers would rather their work be recognized and not kept secret by companies like Apple. Steps towards engagement, like academic publications and an online journal, could do a lot to attract more talent to the company.

It’s unclear how often Apple’s team will post to the journal, but it will reportedly do so throughout the year.

Mallory Locklear