Samsung Hires Ex-Siri Exec to Head North American AI

Samsung consolidates AI centers, hires ex-Apple Siri exec Murat Akbacak to lead North America AI Center.

By Alex P. Chase

6/11, 19:06 EDT
Apple Inc.

Key Takeaway

  • Samsung consolidates its North American AI research centers, appointing ex-Apple Siri executive Murat Akbacak to lead the new entity.
  • Apple enhances AI capabilities with Apple Intelligence, focusing on privacy and advanced writing tools integrated into iPhone software.
  • OpenAI partners with Apple to integrate ChatGPT into iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, enhancing user experience with advanced AI features.

Samsung's AI Center Consolidation

Samsung Electronics Co. is merging its two North American research centers focused on artificial intelligence (AI) technology into a single entity, the North America AI Center. This move aims to streamline operations and enhance efficiency. The consolidation involves the teams based in Toronto and Mountain View, California. According to an internal memo viewed by Bloomberg, Samsung’s research arm decided to centralize these centers to improve operational effectiveness. The company did not specify the future of the two existing offices.

The new AI Center will be led by Murat Akbacak, a former Apple executive. At Apple, Akbacak was responsible for defining and executing the strategy for Siri, Apple’s personal digital assistant, focusing on personalization, contextualization, and advancements in conversational and multimodal AI. This strategic hire underscores Samsung's commitment to bolstering its AI capabilities. Representatives for Samsung and Apple declined to comment on the changes.

Apple’s AI Expansion

Apple has recently made significant strides in AI, unveiling a series of new features aimed at enhancing user experience. The company introduced Apple Intelligence, a system designed to prioritize messages and notifications and offer advanced writing tools capable of proofreading and suggesting improvements in emails, notes, or texts. This initiative marks Apple's entry into the competitive generative AI market, which has been rapidly evolving since OpenAI launched ChatGPT in late 2022.

Apple emphasized privacy in its AI integration, stating that sensitive tasks would be performed on the iPhone rather than in data centers to minimize the risk of personal information being compromised. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, highlighted the importance of these new capabilities being powerful, intuitive, and easy to use. Apple also announced improvements to its iPhone software system, including the ability to schedule messages and a redesigned Photos app.

OpenAI’s Strategic Moves

OpenAI has also been active, hiring two top executives and announcing a partnership with Apple to integrate ChatGPT with Siri. Sarah Friar, former CEO of Nextdoor and finance chief at Square, joins as CFO, while Kevin Weil, an ex-president at Planet Labs, becomes the new chief product officer. OpenAI’s blog post stated that Friar would lead a finance team to support the company’s mission and ensure scalability, while Weil’s team would focus on applying research to products and services beneficial to consumers, developers, and businesses.

The partnership with Apple will see ChatGPT integrated into iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, allowing users to access capabilities like image and document understanding, text generation, and image creation within Apple’s Writing Tools feature. OpenAI emphasized that users would be asked for permission before any data is sent to ChatGPT, ensuring privacy.

Management Quotes

  • Samsung's internal memo:

    "Centralized the two centers to improve operations and increase efficiency."

  • Murat Akbacak, Head of North America AI Center at Samsung:

    "Responsible for defining and executing the strategy for Siri, Apple’s personal digital assistant, focusing on personalization, contextualization, and advancements in conversational and multimodal AI."