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My little pygmy friend

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Memories of Africa
W Daniel Hillis Scientist
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I had very, very fond memories of walking to school or we lived in the jungle where everything grew. We had dozens and dozens of gardeners whose job was just to chop back stuff  from our yard to keep it from...They would mow the lawn with machetes, cutting with machetes, and sometimes I would go to the machete shack and get machetes and I wasn't really allowed to but I would go cut my own path. I remember cutting my thumb. I've still got a little scar from cutting my thumb with a machete.

I remember climbing up in the guava trees and eating guavas, watching... The guava tree was right next to the road, watching people walking by in the road. They didn't see me up in the guava tree, and eating guavas.

W Daniel Hillis (b. 1956) is an American inventor, scientist, author and engineer. While doing his doctoral work at MIT under artificial intelligence pioneer, Marvin Minsky, he invented the concept of parallel computers, that is now the basis for most supercomputers. He also co-founded the famous parallel computing company, Thinking Machines, in 1983 which marked a new era in computing. In 1996, Hillis left MIT for California, where he spent time leading Disney’s Imagineers. He developed new technologies and business strategies for Disney's theme parks, television, motion pictures, Internet and consumer product businesses. More recently, Hillis co-founded an engineering and design company, Applied Minds, and several start-ups, among them Applied Proteomics in San Diego, MetaWeb Technologies (acquired by Google) in San Francisco, and his current passion, Applied Invention in Cambridge, MA, which 'partners with clients to create innovative products and services'. He holds over 100 US patents, covering parallel computers, disk arrays, forgery prevention methods, and various electronic and mechanical devices (including a 10,000-year mechanical clock), and has recently moved into working on problems in medicine. In recognition of his work Hillis has won many awards, including the Dan David Prize.

Listeners: George Dyson Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Africa

Duration: 52 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2016

Date story went live: 08 August 2017