Apple’s new Seattle campus may mean big things for Siri, artificial intelligence

It sure looks like Apple has big plans for Siri.

Apple plans to hire 2,000 more employees for a new Seattle campus, the company announced Monday. A significant number of those jobs look like they’re focused on improving Siri and developing more advanced artificial intelligence.

While Apple already has about 500 workers in the area, this marks a major expansion in Amazon’s hometown and is a sign that Apple plans to significantly invest in its artificial intelligence offerings. According to Apple’s jobs page, openings at the new campus include machine learning research scientists, senior software engineers dedicated to Siri, and natural-language processing experts.

“Your work will advance and shape the future vision of our multilingual, multicultural Siri assistant, and Search applications used by millions across the world,” one job posting says.

The 630,000-square-foot campus will be located just a block from Amazon’s headquarters. Both companies are fighting to dominate the virtual assistant space. Amazon’s Alexa is a direct competitor to Apple’s Siri. While Amazon continues to dominate the smart speaker market, Siri can live on an iPhone in your pocket.

Seattle is quickly becoming something of a ground zero for the development of artificially intelligent voice assistants. Google, which has its own Google Assistant, plans to open a campus there this year. Right next door is Redmond, the home of Microsoft, which makes Cortana.

“”These new jobs confirm what we already knew — we have the best talent and city anywhere,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement Monday. “Apple’s expanded footprint in Seattle is another example of the growing opportunity that exists for residents of Seattle and the economic powerhouse our city has become.”

Smart speakers and other voice assistants have begun to evolve past easy ways to get answers to random trivia questions. Researchers at the University of Washington have developed an algorithm that lets your smart speaker or smartphone detect cardiac arrest in your sleep.

Apple will likely charge its new Seattle hires with figuring out new ways to use these voice assistants. More importantly, it’s up to them to make sure that Siri just works, without being confused by how you phrase a question — all in multiple languages. That’s no easy task, but it certainly looks like it’s one that Apple plans to take on in order to convince you to choose Siri over Alexa.

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