Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has acquired Inductiv, a machine-learning (ML) start-up that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically identify and correct errors that may be lurking in data, according to a Bloomberg report. This marks the second such acquisition in as many months aimed at improving the functionality of Siri, the iPhone's voice-activated digital assistant. 

The company confirmed the deal using its typical boilerplate language, saying that Apple "buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

A young woman using a smartphone's voice recognition feature.

Image source: Getty Images.

ML is a branch of AI that helps computers learn tasks without being specifically programmed for them. The systems use sophisticated algorithms to sift through reams of data, finding patterns that might otherwise be missed, and drawing conclusions based on what it finds. The system can then independently improve, making more accurate predictions based on what it has learned. Having clean data to work with is key component of a successful ML system and these tools may result incremental improvements to Siri.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based Inductiv was co-founded by a trio of ML experts: University of Waterloo professor Ihab Ilyas, University of Wisconsin-Madison assistant professor Theodoros Rekatsinas, and Stanford University associate professor Christopher Re. 

Inductiv recently joined forces with Apple and is working under John Giannandrea, the company exec in charge of Apple's machine learning and AI strategy. Giannandrea has focused his recent efforts on improving the underlying AI technology that forms the foundation for Core ML and Siri, while also integrating AI into other products in Apple's inventory. 

Apple previously acquired another of Re's companies, Lattice Data, in 2017 for an estimated $200 million. The company's technology focused on turning "dark" unstructured data into usable information. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.