John Giannandrea, head of Google's artificial intelligence (AI) research department since 2013, has been promoted as the company's new search chief following the retirement of Amit Singhal. The long-time Googler will be ending his tenure at the end of February, to "give back to others".

The management shift reflects Google's increased focus on machine learning and AI. In a recent earnings call meeting, Google CFO Ruth Porat said one of key priorities of the company would be to determine and initiate the "next wave of machine learning", the Business Insider reported.

Google and many other Silicon Valley-based companies believe that AI will most likely lead the technology industry by providing major breakthroughs in the coming years. Google ventured into AI early in the game and has since invested heavily in the technology to develop major productivity tools.

Given the firm's recent efforts to recreate Google search from a question-based information provider to a virtual assistant that provides guidance on day-to-day activities, integrating AI into search's systems makes sense in both economic and technical terms.

Google recently recorded a significant achievement when its London-based AI wing Deep Mind announced that its latest AI system Alpha Go outsmarted a human champion at the complex East Asian game Go.

Singhal has been a leading figure in the evolution of Google search in the past 15 years. He said in his blog: "When I started, who would have imagined that in a short period of 15 years, we would tap a button, ask Google anything and get the answer. Search is stronger than ever, and will only get better in the hands of an outstanding set of senior leaders who are already running the show day-to-day."