Why Google’s artificial intelligence boss is taking over the search empire

February 5, 2016

As it ballooned, Google’s research group has nabbed a shocking number of computing’s biggest brains — Geoffrey Hinton, Peter Norvig, Ray Kurzweil — Titans of the field. And it held onto its home grown talent younger minds, like Jeff Dean, a fabled technician.

All of them work for John Giannandrea. Starting next month, the entire search organization — the beating heart of Google’s $75 billion colossus — will work for him, too. Google’s veteran search chief, Amit Singhal, announced his retirement from the company.

Google put John Giannandrea, who runs its sprawling research division, in his place and merged the two divisions. The shift caps a broader trend, as machine intelligence advances have crept into Google’s core product, revealing the company’s thoughts on the future of search, which is moving to places that need smart AI, like voice.

It is something Google must innovate and control. Especially critical on smartphones, where users prefer apps over web, where Google doesn’t dominate.

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