Google search chief Amit Singhal handing baton to AI head

Washington, Feb 4 (IANS) India-born Amit Singhal, the longtime chief of Google’s Internet search business, will leave the company on Feb 26 and be replaced by the head of the technology giant’s artificial intelligence (AI) business.

With John Giannandrea, currently a vice president of engineering, taking Singhal’s place, Google is merging its research efforts with search, an indication of the priority of machine learning inside the company.

Singhal, a 15-year Google veteran, was named “Google Fellow” in 2006 for his engineering work on the early search engine. In recent years, he has led the aggressive push for Google to improve its search results on mobile.

“Search is stronger than ever, and will only get better in the hands of an outstanding set of senior leaders who are already running the show day-to-day,” Singhal wrote in his retirement message on Google Plus.

“My life has been a dream journey,” he wrote. “From a little boy growing up in the Himalayas dreaming of the Star Trek computer, to an immigrant who came to the United States with two suitcases and not much else, to the person responsible for Search at Google, every turn has enriched me and made me a better person.”

“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,” Singhal wrote.

“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,” Singhal said.

Giannandrea, who joined Google in 2010, led Google’s machine learning efforts, applying the technology to products such as image recognition for Google Photos search and the smart reply for Google Inbox.

“Machine intelligence is crucial to our Search vision of building a truly intelligent assistant that connects our users to information and actions in the real world,” Google said.

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