Apple poached from Google the AI superstar whose work underpins deepfake technology

Apple has prized another AI superstar away from Google.

Ian Goodfellow is famous in the world of AI for his pioneering work on Generative Adversarial Networks, or GANs. GANs have become notorious in recent years, because they can be used to generate convincing fake images of real-world objects, and are integral to a lot of “deepfake” software.

Read more: The AI tech behind scary-real celebrity ‘deepfakes’ is being used to create completely fictitious faces, cats, and Airbnb listings

CNBC was the first to spot that Goodfellow’s LinkedIn had been updated on Thursday with his new role at Apple, which he appears to have started in March. A Google spokesperson confirmed his departure to CNBC.

Specifically, Goodfellow’s LinkedIn says he is a director of machine learning in Apple’s Special Projects Group. It’s unclear exactly what part of Apple’s business Goodfellow will be bringing his skills to, but a number of Apple features and projects rely on AI, including its smart assistant Siri, its FaceID iPhone unlocking feature, and its secretive autonomous driving project.

Goodfellow has left behind a job as a senior research scientist at Google. He has also worked at OpenAI, the artificial intelligence organization cofounded by Elon Musk and Sam Altman.

This isn’t the first time Apple has lured an AI superstar away from Google. In April last year, it poached Google’s then chief of search and artificial intelligence, John Giannandrea.

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