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My daughter – a perfectionist


The boys' immunity to pain
W Daniel Hillis Scientist
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The kids were always getting into accidents, particularly the boys, but the boys were quite immune to pain. So if they complained about something even a little bit, we had to take them to the emergency room immediately, because they always had a broken bone or something like that. But they rarely complained, so sometimes they would go for a while with a broken bone without saying anything, or... I remember once I was building a treehouse with the boys, back in back of our house at Toluca Lake, and we were running with boards and hammers and nails and Pati came out and started screaming and, like, 'What is going on?' And I hadn't noticed, but Noah had gotten like a big gash in his head and he was covered with blood, and he didn't say anything and he just kept on working and I was so unobservant I didn't notice, and she rushed him off to the hospital and he got 12 stitches. But left to his own, he probably never would have even complained.

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: Christopher Sykes George Dyson

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: pain, injury, broken bone, complaint

Duration: 1 minute, 3 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2016

Date story went live: 05 July 2017