Apple return to work policy leads to ML lead departure

Apple exec returning to Google due to in-person work policy

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Earlier this month, Apple’s director of machine learning, Ian Goodfellow, left the company due to his disagreement with the in-person work policy. Now it seems that Goodfellow is returning to Google, the company he worked at before joining Apple.

Bloomberg has heard from sources familiar with the matter that Goodfellow has agreed to accept a position at DeepMind, Google’s division focused on artificial intelligence. However, the company is yet to confirm the hiring. However, this is not the first time Goodfellow has worked with Google.

Before being hired by Apple in 2019, the engineer worked for Google, where he was responsible for machine learning and artificial intelligence projects. He was known for being “the father of general adversarial networks, or GANs,” which is a technology used to generate media content – including “deepfakes.”

After three years working in Cupertino, Goodfellow decided to leave Apple. In a memo to his team, Goodfellow wrote that he strongly believes that “more flexibility would have been the best policy for my team,” referring to Apple’s policies that are mostly against working from home.

A few Apple employees started returning to in-person work last month, and all employees would have to return to the office three times a week starting on May 23. However, a group of employees have criticized the company for not being flexible when it comes to working remotely. Google, on the other hand, lets its employees explore flexible work options.

Last year, multiple Apple executives also left the company due to the Apple’s back-to-the-office policy.

Apple postpones in-person work requirements

Although Apple had plans to require employees to return to the offices within a few days, the company once again had to postpone such requirements. However, the decision is more related to the growing number of COVID-19 cases than the demands of the employees.

Employees will still have to return to in-person work, but only for two days per week. In addition, Apple will again require everyone to wear face masks in common areas.

Unfortunately, if Apple doesn’t change its mind when it comes to working remotely, it will probably lose some other talent – especially when other Silicon Valley companies are much more flexible in this aspect.

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