Apple loses director of machine learning over return to in-person work policy

Humza

Posts: 1,007   +170
Staff member
Bottom line: There have been several reports of Apple employees criticizing the company's return to in-person work policy, with some even resigning for a workplace that offers more flexibility or allows them to go remote full-time. The policy is now also affecting top-level Apple executives, with Ian Goodfellow being the latest high-profile departure. Ian (pictured above) had been at the helm of Apple's machine learning efforts for three years and recently announced his departure because of Apple's in-person work policy.

Workplace culture has evolved significantly across many organizations in the post-pandemic era, especially tech companies. Some prominent names like Meta/Facebook, Slack, Twitter, and more recently, Airbnb, have fully embraced remote work. Meanwhile, tech giants like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Apple have opted for a hybrid approach, requiring employees to work in the office for a certain number of days per week.

A return to traditional office life is still increasingly questioned by employees as some companies have adopted policies to gradually phase out full-time remote work in favor of in-person attendance. Apple's hybrid work plan, which went into effect last month, is similar in nature, as it required employees to come to the office at least once a week in April and twice a week from May 4 onwards.

Apple Park is a sight to behold, but also an empty one if employees stick with remote work

Later this month, Apple employees will need to work in-person on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Unsurprisingly, some staff have been unhappy with this development, and it looks like the policy has now also caused frustration for top-level executives, leading to the the departure of Ian Goodfellow, Apple's director of machine learning.

Known as the father of an AI approach called generative adversarial networks (GANs), Goodfellow was poached by Apple from Google in March 2019 to join Cupertino's Special Projects Group. While breaking the news of his departure in an internal email, Goodfellow said he strongly believed that more flexibility would have been the best policy for his team.

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dangh

Posts: 576   +913
You aren't irreplaceable.
Yet, he is excellent expert, who will have to be replaced, and who easily will find a better position where he will be able to work from wherever he wants.
And he is not concerned about his own resignation - he goes away on his terms, to ensure he works the way he likes to. He is winning and companies, who aren't flexible enough will continue to lose people who are good enough to be confident in their skills and their goals.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,364   +5,590
Yet, he is excellent expert, who will have to be replaced, and who easily will find a better position where he will be able to work from wherever he wants.
And he is not concerned about his own resignation - he goes away on his terms, to ensure he works the way he likes to. He is winning and companies, who aren't flexible enough will continue to lose people who are good enough to be confident in their skills and their goals.
That's great and all, until most companies implement return to work and he either goes to the office or takes a massive pay cut to compete with the rest of the planet that can also work remote.

Companies wish to control their employees and they'll find someone else willing to collaborate in person.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,206   +4,244
Good for him: I sincerely hope all personnel under him quits with him as well to send a proper message, though I wouldn't blame workers not as well established if they do not.
 

GoldenGoat

Posts: 46   +35
You aren't irreplaceable.

Not sure if you're message is to Apple or Goodfellow or both? But yea, both are replaceable. Apple would rather have workers in the office than keep him on staff. And he would rather work somewhere else than add the commute to his schedule. So they just have different priorities and it is no longer a good fit. This is 2022. People are leaving jobs left and right for various reasons to go work somewhere else.
 
Like it or not, a great deal of tech progress originates from the minds of a small number of superstars. Apple went out of its way to lure Goodfellow from Google, to get the benefits of his insights. To lose him because upper management wants to feel in control is incomprehensible. He is not going to be in an unimployment line somewhere. He will be picked up by an Apple competiter for a double loss to the company.
 

dangh

Posts: 576   +913
That's great and all, until most companies implement return to work and he either goes to the office or takes a massive pay cut to compete with the rest of the planet that can also work remote.

Companies wish to control their employees and they'll find someone else willing to collaborate in person.
I work in very large software company (one from top 5), and before the Covid everyone could work 2 days out of 5 from home, without any paperwqork. 3 days, if you asked your manager and HR (just a formality). After Covid company is saying that would be nice if you could be at office 1 day a week but no worries if you won't make it.

There is always a choice, and this choice will be winning overall. Situation change, there is no reason to work from office just because. IT companies have better KPI to identify how the perfromance is affected and wfh is rarely an issue.

Companies were investing money into IT workers for years - game rooms, flexibility, dinners, massage room, sleeping rooms and so on. All of that to keep IT workers happy. Remote work is just another way to keep them happy.
I work remotely and will be going to office every now and then mostly for social reasons. This won't change in coming years. And I can easily list large companies which have same approach. Obviously, Apple with their controll obsession wont have same approach, but as in above example, experts will simply go somewhere else. People, who don't have much to offer or enjoy 2 hours traffic just to get office' coffee still can do that, no issues at all.

And one thing - working from home do not mean working from whole planet. Most of the tax regulation won't allow working for company from another country where employment is listed (or facing double taxing) so colleagues from India will continue to work for India located branches for indian salary. So, absolutely nothing will change, already if company can outsource a product or service to India will do that. And if there is a headcount in office in New York and if Indian person be hired on that spot, he will be getting salary and paying taxes as per place of employment, and then a 2nd one in place of residency...

There are companies who are full remote, and there is no issues with salary level. So you don't have to be worried;)
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 2,014   +1,204
You aren't irreplaceable.
Dude, this dude is one of the foremost experts on modern AI/ML development. He kind of is irreplaceable, that's the point.

I'm sure, given a few more years, someone else will come out of a university with their own breakthrough that changes the AI/ML field. But until then, this is the person you need to pay if you want to lead AI development.
 

etempest

Posts: 61   +36
That's great and all, until most companies implement return to work and he either goes to the office or takes a massive pay cut to compete with the rest of the planet that can also work remote.

Companies wish to control their employees and they'll find someone else willing to collaborate in person.

That's an assumption that most companies will go back to the pre-covid work methodology. There will be companies that allow hybrid and/or remote going forward. The open question is how many will go back to the old way, and how many will embrace the changes covid brought.
 
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Hexic

Posts: 1,214   +1,891
TechSpot Elite
Failure to adapt always leads to the best leaving for someone who does.

Ironically, much like Apple's innovation - their adaptability is just as piss- poor.
 

p51d007

Posts: 3,149   +2,652
Apple wants their employees back in that UBER EXPENSIVE building they built. Easier to watch/monitor what they are doing.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 6,308   +7,247
Dude, this dude is one of the foremost experts on modern AI/ML development. He kind of is irreplaceable, that's the point.

I'm sure, given a few more years, someone else will come out of a university with their own breakthrough that changes the AI/ML field. But until then, this is the person you need to pay if you want to lead AI development.


No one is irreplaceable.
 

dnous

Posts: 46   +45
That's great and all, until most companies implement return to work and he either goes to the office or takes a massive pay cut to compete with the rest of the planet that can also work remote.

Companies wish to control their employees and they'll find someone else willing to collaborate in person.
And those companies will continue to lose talented employees because of dated policies. Yes, they can all be replaced but unless policies change you will have a high turnover because of better WFH arrangements at other companies.
 

waclark

Posts: 348   +236
snip
There is always a choice, and this choice will be winning overall. Situation change, there is no reason to work from office just because. IT companies have better KPI to identify how the perfromance is affected and wfh is rarely an issue.

snip
I've been working from home since before Covid. I've been in IT for many years and the job I do don't require that much collaboration. However, I will say that when I was younger and just starting out, being in the office sitting next to my more experienced co-workers resulted in a faster ramp-up and learning curve. So when it comes to wfh, it really depends on what you do, what your home life is like and how well you can manage your time. I've had some engineering jobs that simply wouldn't work at home because of the need to have access to certain equipment. There would be no way for the company to supply that equipment at home to everyone that needed access.

In some studies it was shown that people were more productive, but the reason was they were working more hours at home than in the office. This is not a good long-term strategy because people start to get burned out and feel like they are always "at the office" even when at home.

WFH can work for many people, but not everyone.
 

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