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Google's new head of search is an AI research leader

Machine learning is now at the core of the company's business.
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AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

There's a changing of the guard underway at Google... and it could have big ramifications for how the company tackles its main business. Senior VP of search (and early employee) Amit Singhal is retiring on February 26th, and he's being replaced by John Giannandrea, the VP who leads the company's artificial intelligence and research work. In the process, Google is folding its research division into search -- it's now an integral part of how Google operates.

The shift isn't surprising. Google has been big on AI for a while, whether it's defeating board game champions, developing image recognition or building self-driving cars. It's only logical that the company would want someone who understands that technology to occupy a key role. Also, it's not as if the competition is standing still. Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are all adopting AI to various degrees, so it makes sense to promote someone who can keep Google competitive on that front. Giannandrea hasn't said just what he'll do in his new role, but it's entirely possible that AI will power more of your web searches.

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