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Google has announced the consolidation of its formerly separate AI research labs — Google Brain and DeepMind — into a new unit named Google DeepMind. The new team will spearhead groundbreaking AI products and advancements while maintaining ethical standards. The move is widely seen as a way to position the company to compete with OpenAI.
“Combining all this talent into one focused team, backed by the computational resources of Google, will significantly accelerate our progress in AI,” Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, said in a blog post.
Google Research, the former parent division of Google Brain, will remain an independent division, focused on “fundamental advances in computer science across areas such as algorithms and theory, privacy and security, quantum computing, health, climate and sustainability, and responsible AI.”
AI research and innovation with world-class talent
DeepMind has assumed a more prominent role within Alphabet as the tech giant strives to maintain its edge in the highly competitive AI industry, fending off stiff competition from rivals like Microsoft and OpenAI. According to a recent report by the Information, Google Brain software engineers are working in tandem with DeepMind experts to develop Gemini, generative AI software aimed at rivaling OpenAI.
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According to DeepMind cofounder and CEO Demis Hassabis, the creation of Google DeepMind will bring together world-class talent in AI with the computing power, infrastructure, and resources to create the next generation of AI breakthroughs and products boldly and responsibly.
“By creating Google DeepMind, I believe we can get to that future faster,” Hassabis said in a blog post. “Building ever more capable and general AI, safely and responsibly, demands that we solve some of our time’s hardest scientific and engineering challenges. For that, we need to work with greater speed, stronger collaboration and execution, and simplify the way we make decisions to focus on achieving the biggest impact.”
Hassabis claims that the research accomplishments of Google Brain and DeepMind have formed the bedrock of the current AI industry, ranging from deep reinforcement learning to transformers. The newly consolidated unit will build upon this foundation to create the next generation of groundbreaking AI products and advancements that will shape the world.
“Combining our talents and efforts will accelerate our progress toward a world in which AI helps solve the biggest challenges facing humanity, and I’m incredibly excited to be leading this unit and working with all of you to build it,” he added.
From acquisition to innovation
Google’s acquisition of DeepMind for $500 million in 2014 has paved the way for a fruitful collaboration between the two entities. Over the years, they have jointly developed several groundbreaking innovations, including AlphaGo, which triumphed over professional human Go players, and AlphaFold, an exceptional tool that accurately predicts protein structures.
Over the past decade, other noteworthy achievements include word2vec, WaveNet, sequence-to-sequence models, distillation, deep reinforcement learning, and distributed systems and software frameworks like TensorFlow and JAX. These cutting-edge tools have proven highly effective for expressing, training and deploying large-scale ML models.
Google stated that an upcoming town hall meeting would clarify what this new unit will look like for teams and individuals, and that the composition of the new scientific board for Google DeepMind will be finalized in the coming days.
The company said Google DeepMind would work closely with other Google product areas to deliver AI research and products. The unit will be helmed by Koray Kavukcuoglu, VP of research at DeepMind, and will be supervised by a new scientific board.
Jeff Dean will take on the elevated role of Google’s chief scientist, reporting to Pichai. In his new capacity, Dean will serve as chief scientist to both Google Research and Google DeepMind. He has been tasked with setting the future direction of AI research at the company, as well as heading up the most critical and strategic technical projects related to AI, including a series of powerful multimodal AI models.
As part of the reorganization, Eli Collins, VP of product at Google Research, will join as VP of product, while Zoubin Ghahramani, the lead of Google Brain, will serve as a member of the Google DeepMind research leadership team.
This partnership underscores the commitment of Google and parent company Alphabet to furthering the pioneering research of both DeepMind and Google Brain. And the race to dominate the AI space has instantly become even more intense.
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