HS: The Technology Behind Apple Photos and the Future of Deep Learning and Privacy


There’s a war between two visions of how the ubiquitous AI assisted future will be rendered: on the cloud or on the device. And as with any great drama it helps the story along if we have two archetypal antagonists. On the cloud side we have Google. On the device side we have Apple. Who will win? Both? Neither? Or do we all win?

If you would have asked me a week ago I would have said the cloud would win. Definitely. If you read an article like Jeff Dean On Large-Scale Deep Learning At Google you can’t help but be amazed at what Google is accomplishing. Impressive. Wide ranging. Smart. Systematic. Dominant.

Apple has been largely absent from the trend of sprinkling deep learning fairy dust on their products. This should not be all that surprising. Apple moves at their own pace. Apple doesn’t reach for early adopters, they release a technology when it’s a win for the mass consumer market.

There’s an idea because Apple is so secretive they might have hidden away vast deep learning chops we don’t even know about yet. We, of course, have no way of knowing.

What may prove more true is that Apple is going about deep learning in a different way: differential privacy + powerful on device processors + offline training with downloadable models + a commitment to really really not knowing anything personal about you + the deep learning equivalent of perfect forward secrecy.

Photos vs Photos