Jeff Dean, head of artificial intelligence at Google LLC, speaks during a Google AI event in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Alphabet is merging its internal Google research team with DeepMind, a moved designed to bring two groups focused on artificial intelligence closer together as the battle for AI heats up.
Google acquired DeepMind in 2014 for a reported $500 million, and has until now run it as an independent unit out of the U.K. DeepMind has been one of Alphabet’s “other bets,” performing futuristic work, like teaching computer systems to beat top-ranked players of the Chinese board game Go.
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“Combining all this talent into one focused team, backed by the computational resources of Google, will significantly accelerate our progress in AI,” Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in blog post on Thursday.
Jeff Dean, who currently leads Google’s AI efforts, will be promoted and given the title of chief scientist at Google, reporting to Pichai. He’ll head up the “most critical and strategic” technical projects related to AI, the first of which will be a series of powerful, multi-modal AI models.
The move marks Google’s latest reorganization in response to the rapid developments in AI, following OpenAI’s launch of the chatbot ChatGPT late last year. CNBC previously reported that Google reshuffled its Assistant organization to prioritize the company’s AI chatbot Bard.
“The pace of progress is now faster than ever before,” Pichai wrote. “To ensure the bold and responsible development of general AI, we’re creating a unit that will help us build more capable systems more safely and responsibly.”
DeepMind has been able to operate separate from Google’s core research, enabling it to move quicker on breakthroughs like AlphaFold, which can predict 3D models of protein structures. The two divisions have also reportedly had tensions in the past, leading DeepMind to seek more independence.
DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis will lead the development of “the most capable and responsible general AI systems,” Pichai said. That research, he added, will help power the next generation our products and services.”
James Manyika, Google’s senior vice president of technology and society will now oversee Google Research, along with his existing teams, Pichai said. Manyika will report to Dean and the changes will take place over the next few weeks, the memo said.
WATCH: Google opens chatbot Bard to users