Blaise Agüera y Arcas is married to Adrienne Fairhall, and they have two children, Anselm and Eliot. Blaise runs a ~600 person team focusing on distributed, ethical, and on-device AI at Google’s Seattle office and other locations worldwide. Some publicly visible projects from his team include Federated Learning, Artists and Machine Intelligence, Coral, Hollywood gender equality work with the Geena Davis Institute, the Google Clips camera, Google’s first “AI device” powered by local neural nets, and many AI features in Pixel and Android. In 2016 he wrote a widely read essay exploring the relationship between art and technology, and in 2017 he co-authored another popular essay on physiognomy and bias in AI and a refutation of claims that facial structure reveals sexual orientation. The group also works on basic research and new technologies and ideas for Android and Pixel, various Google services, and next-generation devices.
Until December 2013, Blaise was at Microsoft, where he served in a variety of roles, from inventor to strategist, and led teams with strengths in interaction design, prototyping, computer vision and machine vision, augmented reality, wearable computing and graphics. His team’s technology powered a number of different products. He was also at various times the Architect of MSN, Bing Mobile and Bing Maps. He joined Microsoft when his startup, Seadragon, was acquired by Live Labs in 2006.
Shortly after the acquisition of Seadragon, Blaise directed his team in a collaboration with Microsoft Research and the University of Washington, leading to the first public previews of Photosynth several months later. He has given widely viewed talks at TED on Seadragon and Photosynth (2007), Bing Maps (2010), and creative neural networks (2016). In 2008, when he was still in the flower of his youth, he was awarded the TR35. In 2011, he was knighted a Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft. At Google he is a Distinguished Scientist.
Blaise has an academic background in computer science and applied math, but he has worked in a variety of fields, often with an interdisciplinary focus. In the late 90s and early 2000s he collaborated with Adrienne on computational neuroscience projects, focused on the relationship between the physical description of excitable membranes and their computational properties. In 2004 he worked with the Library of Congress to digitally reconstruct Sergey Prokudin-Gorskii’s early 20th century color photography; and in 2001 he received press coverage for his discovery, using computational methods, of the printing technology used by Johann Gutenberg. This work was done in collaboration with Paul Needham, the Scheide Librarian at Princeton. Blaise and Paul’s work on early printing was the subject of the BBC Open University documentary “What Did Gutenberg Invent?”.
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