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Image credit: Reuters/Stephen Lam

Google hires a legendary Apple engineer to tackle AI

Chris Lattner is bouncing back quickly after leaving Tesla.
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Reuters/Stephen Lam

Legendary programmer Chris Lattner has had a roller coaster of a year. He left Apple (where he developed the Swift programming language) to help build Tesla's Autopilot technology, only to leave months later after realizing that he wasn't a good fit. However, Lattner might be settling down. He just announced that he's joining Google (namely, the Brain team) to make AI "accessible to everyone." While Lattner doesn't specify exactly what he'll be doing, Bloomberg sources say he'll be working on the TensorFlow language Google uses to simplify AI programming.

The hire won't necessarily change the state of affairs for Apple, which has had to make do without Lattner for months, but it's a definite coup for Google. Lattner earned praise for Swift because it was fast, thoroughly modern, and (most importanty) accessible -- everyone from first-timers to seasoned programmers stands to benefit from it. Google could put that know-how to work making TensorFlow easier to use, or lowering the hardware demands so that AI runs more smoothly on phones and computers. There's no guarantee that he'll repeat his previous feats at Google, but the potential is certainly there.

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