@techvitamin 1.1: Google’s Blaise Aguera y Arcas on Machine Intelligence

Blaise leads a team at Google focusing on Machine Intelligence for mobile devices—including both basic research and new products. His group works extensively with deep neural nets for machine perception, distributed learning, and agents, as well as collaborating with academic institutions on connectomics research. Until 2014 he was a Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft
Blaise Aguera y Arcas talks Machine Intelligence and inventor of Photosynth
Blaise Aguera y Arcas (@blaiseaguera)

In this first episode of @techvitamin, Blaise Aguera y Arcas (Google) and Michael Cohen (Facebook) join us to discuss Machine Intelligence (MI) across a broad range of subjects, including it’s impact on art (and the impact of technology in general on art), how MI research should be funded, the collaboration between Academia, Business and Government, and much more.

Can machines now create art, independently of humans? Blaise and Michael talk a bit about DeepDream, and the resulting images’ similarity to those conjured by the human brain (perhaps just a tad under the influence). Here’s one:

Animated DeepDream image courtesy of @samim and Github, from Blaise Aguera y Arcas talks machine intelligence
Courtesy GitHub/@samim

We touch on the recent defeat of a Go world champion by Google artificial intelligence: “…the last nail in the coffin of games being an indicator of human intelligence.”

Blaise leads a team at Google focusing on MI for mobile devices—including both basic research and new products. His group works extensively with deep neural nets for machine perception, distributed learning, and agents. Blaise is a well-known speaker on subjects ranging from digital photography to mapping. He’s given three TED talks: on Seadragon (a company he sold to Microsoft in 2006); on Photosynth, which he invented at Microsoft, and Bing Maps.  He’s gave a talk at WIRED2014 entitled “The next big frontier is the mind and the brain.”

Before Google, Blaise was a Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft, where he worked with Michael, who is one of our group of rotating @techvitamin co-hosts. Before his current gig as image and video guru at Facebook, Michael spent 21 years in Microsoft Research, and is one of the world’s foremost thinkers on computational photography (aka, getting photons turned into bits). Both Michael and Blaise were at Princeton (as faculty and grad student, respectively).

We’re always looking for community feedback, so feel free to comment below (or on Twitter, FB, or your preferred vehicle). And please, LIke/Share/(re)Tweet to your heart’s content. We’ll steadily improve the audio (all participants are remote from each other, so we’re a little dependent on mic quality, Skype clarity, etc.). We have a good outtake of Blaise scrambling to find another room at Google HQ after getting kicked out of the one he was in. And, we’ll tweak the show — to a depth and length that makes sense. For instance in this episode, we probably could have talked for much longer, but chose to cut things off to keep it under an hour. Might make sense to keep it going. We’ll get better.

1Blaise mentions a study about government research dollars seeding much of the technology in the iPhone. He was thinking of work by Mariana Mazzucato.

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