Blaise Agüera y Arcas

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Blaise Agüera y Arcas
PhotonQ-Demis Hassabis on Artificial Playful Intelligence (15366514658) (2).jpg
Blaise Agüera y Arcas (right) with Demis Hassabis (left) in 2014, at the Wired conference in London
Born1975 (age 46–47)[1]
Alma materPrinceton University
OccupationSoftware Architect, Designer

Blaise Agüera y Arcas (born 1975)[1] is a software engineer, software architect, and designer. He is an authority in computer vision, machine intelligence, and computational photography and presents regularly at conferences.[2][3][4] He appears regularly at TED and his presentations have been rated some of TED's "most jaw-dropping."[5]

At Google, he leads teams that build products and technologies that leverage machine intelligence, computer vision, and computational photography. He also founded the Artists and Machine Intelligence program at Google, which creates art by pairing machine intelligence engineers with artists.[6]

Prior to Google, he was a Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft and was the architect of Bing Maps and Bing Mobile.[7]

Education and early life[edit]

Agüera y Arcas was born in Providence, Rhode Island and grew up in Mexico City[1][8] to a Spanish father and an American mother; they had met on an Israeli kibbutz.[8] As a teenager, Agüera y Arcas interned with the U.S. Navy research center in Bethesda, Md., where he reprogrammed the guidance software for aircraft carriers to improve their stability at sea, which helped to reduce seasickness among sailors.[8] Agüera y Arcas is a 1998 graduate of Princeton University[9] where he received a B.A. in physics.[citation needed]


In 2001, he and Paul Needham published their findings that the metal mold method of printing attributed to Gutenberg was likely invented by someone else, likely two decades after Gutenberg printed his Bible.[10][11][12]

In 2004 for the Library of Congress he devised a numerical method to create color composite images of almost two thousand negatives by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky.[13]

Seadragon and Microsoft[edit]

Agüera y Arcas founded Seadragon Software in 2003. Seadragon created web optimized visualization technology that allows graphics and photos to be smoothly browsed, regardless of their size.

Seadragon was acquired by Microsoft Live Labs in 2006.[14] The technology was used to develop Silverlight, Pivot, Photosynth and the standalone cross-platform Seadragon application for iPhone and iPad. Slate called Photosynth "the best thing to happen to digital photography since the digital camera".[15]

He was the architect leading Bing Maps and Bing Mobile[7] and was named a Distinguished Engineer in 2011. He collaborated with Ricoh to make the Theta, a 360º camera whose captured content displayed in Photosynth.[16]

While at Microsoft, Agüera y Arcas also suggested that technology should be designed for women. He cited a gap between the extent to which technology is designed for women and the market opportunity women represent, given trends in graduation rates and earnings.[17]


In 2013, Agüera y Arcas left Microsoft to become a leader of Google's[1] machine intelligence efforts, along with programs in computer vision and computational photography. His departure from Microsoft for Google generated a press cycle, with articles appearing in publications that included the New York Times, Fast Company, International Business Times, and ValueWalk.

Although his work is confidential, he is said to be working on projects that add deep learning to hardware devices, most likely smartphones.[18]

He also founded the Artists and Machine Intelligence program, which fuses machine intelligence and art. The program's first public exhibit was on February 26, 2016 at the Gray Area,[19] where Agüera y Arcas was the keynote speaker. On June 1, 2016, the program held the MAMI (Music, Art, and Machine Intelligence) show.[20]

TED Talks[edit]

Date Title Views Comments
5/2007 How PhotoSynth Can Connect the World's Images 6,033,715 one of Bill Gates's favorite TED Talks
2/2010 Augmented Reality Maps 1,892,315 Live demo of live video in Bing Maps
5/2016 How Computers are Learning to be Creative 2,101,327 How computers can be used to generate images; refers to DeepDream

Awards, press and other honors[edit]

In 2008, he was named to the MIT Technology Review TR35 as one of the top 35 innovators in the world under the age of 35.[21]

Fast Company has twice named Blaise one of the "Most Creative People in Business" (2009, 2015), where he was called "something of a celebrity in the tech world".

Agüera y Arcas is the inspiration for the character Elgin in the 2012 best-selling novel Where'd You Go, Bernadette?[5]

He spoke on KUOW about the future of machine intelligence in society.[22]


  1. ^ a b c d e Mick, Jason (December 17, 2013). "Top Microsoft Graphics Genius Defects to Google". DailyTech. Archived from the original on December 18, 2013. Blaise Agüera y Arcas, 38, … born in Mexico City, Mexico in 1975
  2. ^ ACM SIGCHI (2016-01-02), UIST 2015 Capstone Keynote Blaise Agüera y Arcas: Machine Intelligence and Human Intelligence, retrieved 2016-08-24
  3. ^ Thinking Digital (2015-01-21), Blaise Aguera y Arcas, Google - Predictions on Gender Selection and Economics, retrieved 2016-08-24
  4. ^ artwithMI (2016-06-27), Blaise Aguera y Arcas: Machine creativity and computational neuroscience, retrieved 2016-08-24
  5. ^ a b Arcas, Blaise Agüera y. "Blaise Agüera y Arcas | Speaker |". Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  6. ^ Arcas, Blaise Aguera y (2016-02-23). "Art in the Age of Machine Intelligence". Medium. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  7. ^ a b An Interview with Blaise Aguera y Arcas. April 29, 2010.
  8. ^ a b c Wingfield, Nick (2010-11-06). "Taking on Google by Learning From Ants". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  9. ^ "Blaise Aguera y Arcas - Aspects of Machine Learning".
  10. ^ Smith, Dinitia (2001-01-27). "Has History Been Too Generous to Gutenberg?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  11. ^ "What Did Gutenberg Invent?". Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  12. ^ Christie, Alix (2014-12-04). "Was Gutenberg really the original tech disrupter?". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  13. ^ "Prokudin-Gorskii Collection – Digitizing the Collection – Prints & Photographs Online Catalog". Library of Congress.
  14. ^ "The Seattle Times: Microsoft: Microsoft acquiring Seadragon Software". Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  15. ^ Manjoo, Farhad (2009-01-27). "All I Wanna Do Is Zoom Zoom Zoom Zoom". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  16. ^ "Ricoh Theta WiFi camera shoots 360-degree photos for $399 (hands-on)". Engadget. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  17. ^ "Every Tech Firm Should Be Trying To Please Women, Microsoft Researcher Says". Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  18. ^ "How Google Is Trying to Build a Smarter Smartphone". Fortune. 2016-01-28. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  19. ^ "Art and Machine Learning Symposium - Gray Area Art & Technology". Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  20. ^ McDowell, Kenric (2016-06-28). "Music, Art & Machine Intelligence 2016 Conference Proceedings". Medium. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  21. ^ "2008 Young Innovators Under 35". Technology Review. 2008. Retrieved August 15, 2011.
  22. ^ O'Brien, John. "Peering Into The Future Of Artificial Intelligence". Retrieved 2016-08-24.

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