Apple announced today that John Giannandrea had been promoted to the company’s executive team as senior vice-president of machine learning and artificial intelligence strategy.

Giannandrea, a graduate of Strathclyde University, joined Apple last year from Google where he led the machine intelligence, research, and search teams. At Apple, Giannandrea oversees its AI and machine learning strategy across all of its products and services, as well as the development of Core ML and Siri technologies.

His team’s focus on advancing and integrating machine learning into Apple products “is delivering more personal, intelligent and natural interactions for customers while protecting user privacy,” the company said in a statement.

“John hit the ground running at Apple and we are thrilled to have him as part of our executive team,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive. “Machine learning and AI are important to Apple’s future as they are fundamentally changing the way people interact with technology, and already helping our customers live better lives. We’re fortunate to have John, a leader in the AI industry, driving our efforts in this critical area.”

Apple commentator John Gruber said: “It is quite possible that he is the best person in the world Apple could have hired to head up artificial intelligence and machine learning. Apple’s goal, obviously, is to meet or exceed Google in these areas – which is to say to lead the industry.”

Before working at Google, Giannandrea co-founded two technology companies, Tellme Networks and Metaweb Technologies and was a senior engineer at General Magic, the legendary company founded by Apple team members in 1989, including Andy Hertzfeld, Marc Porat, and Bill Atkinson.

General Magic, though it eventually failed, generated significant technological breakthroughs. It also served as an informal talent incubator; at one point, Mac typeface designer Susan Kare, iPod engineer Tony Fadell, eBay founder Pierre Morad, Android co-founder Andy Rubin, and current Apple vice-president of technology, Kevin Lynch, all worked there.

Giannandrea graduated from Strathclyde University as a Bachelor of Science with Honours in computer science and was awarded a Doctorate Honoris Causa. Giannandrea is on the board of trustees at the SETI Institute and Castilleja School.