Apple’s head of machine learning resigns after coming back to the office three days a week

A senior executive at Apple has quit his job in protest at the company’s requirement for staff to return to the office three days a week.

Ian Goodfellow, the director of machine learning, is considered the most senior employee to have resigned to date as a result of the plan.

On April 11, the company began mandating one day a week in the office — a requirement that increased to two days on May 2. On May 23, all employees had to sit at their desks three days a week.

A survey of Apple employees April 13-19 found that 67 percent said they were dissatisfied with the return policy. Fortune reported.

And Goodfellow said in his resignation letter that he wouldn’t do it.

“I am convinced that more flexibility would have been the best policy for my team,” he said The edge

Ian Goodfellow, Apple's director of machine learning, has resigned in protest at their policy of forcing people back to their offices three days a week

Ian Goodfellow, Apple’s director of machine learning, has resigned in protest at their policy of forcing people back to their offices three days a week

Apples headquarters in Cupertino, California, pictured

Apples headquarters in Cupertino, California, pictured

An Apple employee speculated that Goodfellow’s departure comes ahead of a possible announcement that the company will increase the need for personal work to five days a week.

“Everyone and their grandmothers know that Apple is using the pilot as a stepping stone to 5 days back in office,” the Apple employee wrote to Blind, which verifies employment through corporate email addresses.

“Ian probably got inside scoop that this comes and goes.”

The tech news site described Goodfellow as the most highly cited expert on machine learning — a type of artificial intelligence, studying computer algorithms that can be improved automatically, both through experience and through the use of data. As a result, the applications get better at predicting outcomes.

Goodfellow joined Apple in March 2019 and describes himself on LinkedIn as “an industry leader in machine learning.”

The tech analyst has been called “the father of common hostile networks, or GANs,” according to the website. 9to5Mac – breakthrough technology that can be used to generate fake media content.

His salary is unclear, but he is likely to earn more than $270,000 a year according to Insider and, given his director status and prominence in the tech world.

After graduating from Stanford in 2009 with a degree in computer science, Goodfellow studied for a doctorate in machine learning at the University of Montreal.

He worked at Google on their “Google Brain” team and then joined OpenAI, a research institute founded in 2015 by Elon Musk and several others.

Goodfellow returned to Google and then joined Apple.

At the time of joining Apple, he was 34 and described by: The edge as “young to be an AI researcher with so much clout.”

They described his hiring as a coup for Apple.

He is likely to be in high demand following his resignation from the Cupertino-based company.

Apple CEO Tim Cook can be seen at the company's headquarters in Cupertino

Apple CEO Tim Cook can be seen at the company’s headquarters in Cupertino

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook is adamant about his employees’ return to the office — unlike other Silicon Valley companies.

In early March, he wrote to staff to prepare for their return.

“In the coming weeks and months, we have the opportunity to combine the best of what we’ve learned about remote working with the irreplaceable benefits of face-to-face collaboration,” Cook said in the memo, according to Bloomberg.

“It is as important as always that we support each other in this transition, in the challenges we face as a team and around the world.”

Cook acknowledged that not everyone was thrilled with the prospect.

“For many of you, I know that returning to the office is a long-awaited milestone and a positive sign that we can connect more with the colleagues who play such an important role in our lives,” Cook said.

“For others, it can also be a disturbing change.”

After the announcement, employees pledged to stop on internal forums.

“I don’t give a damn if I ever come back to work here,” an Apple employee ranted on the corporate message board Blind, according to The New York Post

“I’m going in to say hello and meet everyone since I haven’t been since I started, then hand in my resignation when I get home.

“I already know I can’t handle the commute and sitting for eight hours.”

Another Apple employee responded with a smiling emoji and wrote, “I’m going to do the same.”

A third replied, ‘Hell YEAH my husband, let’s do this! F*** RTO.’

Twitter, on the other hand, has decided to let employees work remotely forever, if they want to — although that could change under Musk’s new owner.

In March, Parag Agrawal, the CEO, told staff that his predecessor Jack Dorsey’s policy of allowing staff to work remotely forever would remain.

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal has continued the policy of his predecessor, Jack Dorsey, of allowing employees to work remotely forever

Jack Dorsey was one of the first to support permanent remote working

Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal (left) and co-founder Jack Dorsey (right) both support remote working

Elon Musk, who struck a deal to buy Twitter, has mocked the company's policy of letting executives work remotely forever, with some thinking he can roll it back when he takes over.

Elon Musk, who struck a deal to buy Twitter, has mocked the company’s policy of letting executives work remotely forever, with some thinking he can roll it back when he takes over.

“As we reopen, our approach will remain the same,” Agrawal said.

‘Where you feel most productive and creative, that’s where you work and that includes working from home all the time.

‘Office every day? That works too. Some days at the office, some days away from home? Of course.’

Slack has followed suit, making remote work permanently possible.

At Facebook, parent company Meta announced in the summer of 2020 that all full-time employees can apply to work from home if their job allows it.

Facebook executives took full advantage of the arrangement, The Wall Street Journal reported, with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg spending significant amounts of time outside the Menlo Park headquarters and more time in Hawaii.

Alex Schultz, chief marketing officer, plans to move to the United Kingdom, according to a company spokesperson, while Guy Rosen, the company’s vice president of integrity, will move to Israel.

Naomi Gleit, head of product at Meta and one of its longest-running employees, has relocated to New York, while Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, has worked remotely from locations such as Hawaii, Los Angeles and Cape Cod, the paper said.

Apple CEO Tim Cook demands all staff return to the office three days a week

Apple CEO Tim Cook demands all staff return to the office three days a week

Apple and Google are the outliers, with Google also requiring employees to return to the office three days a week in March from April 4.

The offer includes the caveat that workers can get pay cuts if they leave the San Francisco Bay Area or New York City for cheaper parts of the country.

One open letter signed by more than 1050 Apple employees past and present urged company leaders to rethink their plans.

‘You have characterized the choice for the Hybrid Working Pilot as a combination of the ‘need to communicate personally’ and the value of flexible working’, the letter states.

‘But in reality it doesn’t recognize flexible working and is only driven by fear. Fear of the future of work, fear of employee autonomy, fear of losing control.’

They write that remote work allows them to connect effortlessly with colleagues in Europe and Asia, and argue that allowing remote work promotes diversity in the workforce. They also complain about the commute and frustration about wasting time.

‘We tell all our customers how great our products are for working remotely, but we ourselves can’t use them to work remotely?’ they write.

‘How can we expect our customers to take that seriously? How can we understand the problems of remote working that need to be solved in our products if we don’t live by them?’

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