Apple could be planning to take AI research more seriously in the future if recent reports are anything to go by. Today, the company decided to merge their artificial intelligence, machine learning, and Siri divisions under one banner, and one leader: new hire John Giannandrea.

Giannandrea, for the unaware, used to be Google's chief of search technology and AI, making him the perfect candidate to lead Apple's newly-combined team. Giannandrea's official title is "Chief of Machine Learning and AI Strategy."

Giannandrea's new role will be to "oversee" the development of Core ML -- Apple's machine learning API -- Siri, and more. It's not clear how hands-on Giannandrea will be with the teams working under him, however.

A mere leadership shuffle may not seem like too big of a deal at first, but there's more to Apple's decision than meets the eye.

The company has lagged behind the likes of Google lately as far as virtual assistant and AI technology go, and they haven't seemed interested in playing catch up until now.

Snagging one of the top AI chiefs in the industry is a big win for Apple and a clear indication that the company plans to accelerate their AI research plans in the future. Who knows - in a few years, perhaps Apple will come up with their own version of Google's impressive Duplex AI assistant technology.

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