Google’s Head of Artificial Intelligence To Take Over Search

As Amit Singhal prepares to leave his position as senior vice president of search at Google, a new chief -- John Giannandrea, who currently leads the company's machine learning efforts -- is getting ready to take over.

The changeover is being widely characterized as a sign that Google wants to boost its search capabilities with more artificial intelligence.

Singhal, who joined Google in 2000, announced yesterday in a post on his Google Plus page that he planned to retire from the company as of February 26. After 15 years at Google, he said he has decided to spend the next 15 working to "give back to others" and pursuing more philanthropic ventures, as well as spend more time with his family.

Past Work in Structured Data, Voice Tech

Gianandrea (pictured above) came to Google in 2010, after Metaweb Technologies -- he was the company's CTO -- was acquired by Google. Metaweb's key product was Freebase, described by its founders as a "Wikipedia for structured data." The Freebase Web site was retired last year and its data was transferred to Wikidata.

Prior to Metaweb, Giannandrea was a partner at SV Colo and CTO at Tellme Networks, which focused on speech recognition and voice technologies. His work with both Metaweb and Tellme gave him expertise that helped Google improve its AI capabilities in recent years.

"There's no world in which Google doesn't want to have better speech recognition, language translation, language understanding -- so these frontiers of research in computer science are things we invest in all the time," Giannandrea told Popular Science in November. The article noted that Google has more than 1,000 researchers working on machine learning and AI, with their attention focused on both theoretical and real-world applications.

Real-World Challenges for AI

Giannandrea's background will benefit Google's efforts to improve both...

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