Google has tapped its artificial intelligence chief John Giannandrea to lead its search business, a further sign of the importance that the Internet giant has placed on AI.
Giannandrea will be assuming the duties of longtime Google search executive Amit Singhal, who said he is retiring on Feb. 26 to become involved in philanthropy, and to spend more time with his family. In a post on Google+, Singhal, who has overseen the technical development of search since 2000, stated:
It fills me with pride to see what we have built in the last fifteen years. Search has transformed people's lives; over a billion people rely on us. Our mission of empowering people with information and the impact it has had on this world cannot be overstated. When I started, who would have imagined that in a short period of fifteen years, we would tap a button, ask Google anything and get the answer. Today, it has become second nature to us. My dream Star Trek computer is becoming a reality, and it is far better than what I ever imagined.
In naming Giannandrea as search chief, it appears Alphabet's Google is aiming to infuse more AI capabilities into its search feature, especially on mobile devices, and into its personal assistant technologies, according to a Bloomberg report that cited comments by Google CEO Sundar Pichai during Alphabet's recent earnings call. In that call, according to Bloomberg, Pichai stated, "The next wave will be powered by big advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, an area where we believe we lead the industry."
Giannandrea joined Google in 2010, following the acquisition of a company he cofounded called Metaweb Technologies, which developed a semantic database that Google incorporated into its search in order to improve results.
In 2013, Giannandrea was tasked with leading Google's AI efforts as the Internet giant sought to infuse artificial intelligence into many of its products and services -- ranging from its email app Smart Reply to its Photos storage service -- The Wall Street Journal reported.
Giannandrea also oversaw RankBrain, which it introduced last year to increase the accuracy of search results. According to the Journal, RankBrain handles rare or complex search queries, and is among the top three tools Google uses when ranking search results.
In selecting Giannandrea to lead search, Google is not only getting someone who has the AI experience, but also someone with an extensively familiarity with its search.