Apple’s return to work policy leads to ML lead departure

Apple is facing quite a bit of pushback from employees to its recent return to in-person work. A number of reports have shown that some employees have even departed from the company’s policies, opting for a workplace that is more accepting of remote work.

Now, The Verge’s Zoë Schiffer reports that Ian Goodfellow, Apple’s director of machine learning, has turned his company over to the departed company.

High-profile departure to Apple in-person work policy leads

Apple Poached Goodfellow from Google Back in 2019 Join its “Special Projects Group” as director of machine learning. Goodfellow spent more than six years at Google, starting as a software engineering intern before becoming a “Senior Staff Research Scientist” at Apple’s March of 2019.

Goodfellow is referred to as “the father of general adversarial networks, or GANs.” This technology can be used to generate fake media content, something that has become important in recent years.

Apple joins him after just three years, however, Goodfellow is now leaving the company to work on its return to work policy. In a memo to staff, Goodfellow wrote: “I believe strongly that more flexibility would have been possible for my team.”

Apple employees return to in-person work on April 11 following a two-year stint of remote work on the COVID-19 pandemic. Apple is taking a phased approach to its return to work plan. At first, the company requires employees to work at least one day per week. On May 4, the company ramped up to two days per week in the office.

Starting on May 23, employees will need to be in the office for three days per week. This is the start of Apple’s so-called “hybrid” work plan, which will require employees to work from Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday every week.

Goodfellow’s former employer Google mandated that some teams return in-person work starting last month, but many employees are able to work from home permanently. Apple has reportedly given some flexibility to individual teams, managers and adapt policies as they see fit. This, however, does not appear to be the case for Goodfellow’s team.

While a number of Apple employees have reportedly defended the company over its insistence on in-person work, Goodfellow’s departure is the most notable case publicly reported. Any other high-profile departures that we may or may not hear.

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