Google search guru Singhal steps down, AI takes center stage

The search giant's artificial intelligence leader will take over search as the two specialties increasingly merge.

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Google's head of search Amit Singhal is stepping down to be replaced by the company's artificial intelligence chief.

In a Google+ post, Singhal said he's retiring and wrote:

A lot has changed in the last fifteen years, Google has grown up a lot, and I have experienced tremendous personal growth. But one thing that has not changed, is the Google mission: to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. This mission is one of the things that keeps me so engaged at Google. I feel proud to come in everyday knowing that what I will do will improve the lives of over a Billion people, and that is exactly what my employer wants me to do.

Various reports have noted that Google's artificial intelligence lead John Giannandrea will take over search. Machine learning and artificial intelligence were a key topic on Google's earnings conference call this week.

Google to enterprises: Our cloud is 'ready to be used at scale'

Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, said:

At Google, we've always tried to bring our unique technical strengths to areas where we think we can make a big difference, like indexing the world's information to make it discoverable.

We have focused a lot on really improving Search and Mobile and now we are investing in evolving this to actively assist our users throughout the day in smart and helpful ways. This comes thanks to our years of investments in areas like natural language processing, computer vision, Knowledge Graph and other areas. And the next wave will be powered by big advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, an area where we believe we lead the industry...

We believe we have only scratched the surface of truly being there for our users, any time, any where, across all devices, giving them the assistance they need. We are excited to make even more progress on this vision in 2016.

The big takeaway here is that search is about to meld more with artificial intelligence. In many ways, search already has, but Google is likely to meld the two in new ways to be more proactive than today.