Siri Under Fire: Apple Employees Unhappy

According to over thirty former Apple employees who talked to Wayne Ma of The Information, Siri and Apple’s usage of AI has been severely constrained by skepticism and organizational dysfunction. The in-depth paywalled study reveals why former Apple workers who were involved in the AI and machine learning teams think that organizational turmoil and a lack of ambition have hampered it and the company’s AI technology. According to reports, Apple’s virtual assistant is “widely derided” within the firm for its limited capabilities and slow rate of development.

Siri Hated By Apple Employees

By 2018, the Siri team had “devolved into a mess, driven by petty turf battles among senior leaders and passionate disputes over the direction of the assistant.” Its leadership refused to spend on developing tools to analyze Siri’s usage, and engineers lacked the capacity to acquire basic statistics such as how many individuals used the virtual assistant and how frequently they did so.  

Many Apple employees are said to have left because the company was too slow to make decisions or was too conservative in its approach to new AI technologies, such as the large-language models that underpin chatbots like ChatGPT. 

Before they left to work on large-language models at Google, Apple CEO Tim Cook personally made an effort to persuade engineers who helped Apple modernize its search technology to stay at the company. 

Code-named “Blackbird,” the idea to completely redesign the virtual assistant was investigated by the Siri team in 2019. The goal was to design a more lightweight version of Siri that would operate on iPhones rather than the cloud, delegate function development to app developers, and enhance speed and privacy. Due to Blackbird’s usefulness and reactivity, Apple personnel appeared to be excited after seeing demos of it.