It was recently reported that Google has become the world’s most valuable company, and the largest segment of that revenue stream can be traced to the dominance over the digital Search sector of their company. That division was headed up by world renowned technologist Amit Singhal for the last 15 years, but Mr. Singhal announced in a blog post recently that he will be stepping down to pursue his philanthropic interests as of February 26th of 2016. His decision to move on did not catch many by surprise, but the appointment of his successor has quickly become an even more interesting story.
John Giannandrea is a 50-year-old engineering expert in Artificial Intelligence who has been elevated to the head of Search post from within Google. Born in Bridge of Allan, Scotland, he created early personal assistant software at an Apple spin-off named General Magic while working there in the mid 1990s. Giannandrea later became the CTO of Internet levitation Netscape, which he subsequently left to co-found voice-recognition startup TellMe, which focused on novel concepts at the time like calling to find out sports scores or to have an AI backed conversation with Santa Claus.
What matters is that Google had its pick of practically any person on the planet to take the helm of its ubiquitous search engine, and the choice they made was someone intimately familiar with technologies like voice recognition, AI and other ancillary services that all cluster around the notion that technology need not be divorced from the idea concept of personality.
In the coming months and years, Google’s search algorithm will undoubtedly continue to become more sentient as the company improves on existing work done as part of its Hummingbird, Panda and Penguin projects. However, this new head of Search may signify moves to make the Search system far more intimate and personal for users. Beyond what Siri or Cortana pretend to provide and more in line what sci-fi writers have long dreamed about, a personality capable of bridging the gap between human feeling and cold hard analytical power.