Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Blackwell attended Newlands College, and received bis BA in Electronic Engineering from the University of Auckland, and studied Comparative Religion and Medieval History at Massey University. Subsequently he obtained his MA in Computer Science from the Victoria University of Wellington, and later on his PhD in Psychology at Cambridge University. After his master graduation Blackwell started working at the New Zealand software company Progeni Systems Limited. In the UK he was systems analyst for Cambridge Consultants Limited, where he designed real-time diagnostic and encryption systems. He later moved to Hitachi, where he worked at its Europe Advanced Software Centre.[3] Late 1990s he joined the Computer Laboratory at Cambridge, and became reader at the University of Cambridge, Department of Neuroscience. Blackwell's research interest is in the field of constructing and applying "models of human behaviour when interacting with technology." Blackwell explained that "these models take a variety of forms, not all drawing on neuroscience, but I have a particular interest in neuroeconomic models of abstraction formation and use. This theoretical base is broadly applicable to the design of new technologies, including software that is programmable and customisable by end-users, and the use of domestic technologies.