Alphabet creates new Google DeepMind unit by merging AI research teams

21 Apr 2023

Image: © JHVEPhoto/

Google DeepMind will be led by CEO Demis Hassabis, who said the merger will help ‘create the next generation of AI breakthroughs’.

To stay ahead of the curve in AI, Google is merging its two major research teams, DeepMind and Google Brain, to form a new unit that will spearhead the search giant’s AI efforts.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai announced in a blogpost yesterday (20 April) that the new Google DeepMind unit will help the company “ensure the bold and responsible development of general AI” and help it build “more capable systems more safely and responsibly”.

Founded and led by neuroscientist CEO Demis Hassabis, DeepMind is an AI research company that was acquired by Google in 2014. Initially focused on simulations, e-commerce and games, DeepMind has made some recent AI breakthroughs, including predicting the structure of nearly every known protein.

DeepMind is now merging with the Brian team from Google Research, with Hassabis as the new CEO and Jeff Dean taking over as Google’s chief scientist (making him chief scientist to both Google Research and Google DeepMind).

“Combining all this talent into one focused team, backed by the computational resources of Google, will significantly accelerate our progress in AI,” said Pichai.

“Working alongside Demis, Jeff will help set the future direction of our AI research and head up our most critical and strategic technical projects related to AI, the first of which will be a series of powerful, multimodal AI models.”

The search giant has been trying to keep up with competitors in the race to build the best AI systems, especially in the generative AI space, ever since ChatGPT took the world by storm and rival search engine Bing was infused with OpenAI’s popular chatbot.

In February, it announced plans to launch its own AI chatbot called Bard, which has reportedly not received promising reviews from Google employees. A Bloomberg report also revealed that some employees labelled Bard as “worse than useless” and “a pathological liar”.

With billions at stake through its search business, Google hopes to significantly accelerate its progress in AI research with the latest consolidation of teams.

Hassabis wrote in a blogpost that Google DeepMind will help the company “create the next generation of AI breakthroughs and products across Google and Alphabet”.

“Building ever more capable and general AI, safely and responsibly, demands that we solve some of the hardest scientific and engineering challenges of our time,” Hassabis said.

“For that, we need to work with greater speed, stronger collaboration and execution, and to simplify the way we make decisions to focus on achieving the biggest impact.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic