Executive Briefings

Why A.I. Researchers at Google Got Desks Next to the Boss

If you want to understand the priorities of a technology company, first look at the seating chart.

At Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters, the chief executive, Sundar Pichai, now shares a floor with Google Brain, a research lab dedicated to artificial intelligence.

When Facebook created its own artificial intelligence lab at its offices about seven miles away, it temporarily gave A.I. researchers desks next to the fish bowl of a conference room where its chief executive and founder, Mark Zuckerberg, holds his meetings.

“I can high-five Mark and Sheryl from my desk, and the A.I. team was right next to us,” said Facebook’s chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer, referring to Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer.

Even Overstock.com, the online retailer based in the Salt Lake City area, now runs a mini-research operation called OLabs. It sits directly outside the office of the company’s chief executive, Patrick Byrne.

A growing number of tech companies are pushing research labs and other far-reaching engineering efforts closer to the boss. The point is unmistakable: What they are doing matters to the chief executive. It may even be the future of the company.

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At Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters, the chief executive, Sundar Pichai, now shares a floor with Google Brain, a research lab dedicated to artificial intelligence.

When Facebook created its own artificial intelligence lab at its offices about seven miles away, it temporarily gave A.I. researchers desks next to the fish bowl of a conference room where its chief executive and founder, Mark Zuckerberg, holds his meetings.

“I can high-five Mark and Sheryl from my desk, and the A.I. team was right next to us,” said Facebook’s chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer, referring to Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer.

Even Overstock.com, the online retailer based in the Salt Lake City area, now runs a mini-research operation called OLabs. It sits directly outside the office of the company’s chief executive, Patrick Byrne.

A growing number of tech companies are pushing research labs and other far-reaching engineering efforts closer to the boss. The point is unmistakable: What they are doing matters to the chief executive. It may even be the future of the company.

Read full article