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Applied Invention's not-so-standard interviewing techniques


A successful second date with Taylor
W Daniel Hillis Scientist
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I had just been separated for a very short time and hadn't really started dating yet. I kind of knew I needed to, but I was a little hesitant to figure out how online dating services worked or get friends to introduce me to friends. I was... just hadn't dealt with any of that. And I was up in San Francisco and I went to a party, which was a birthday party for my friend Norman Lear. And when I was at the party, I met a woman that looked familiar to me and I'd kind of seen her at TED and I kind of knew her first name was Taylor. I didn't know what her other name was, but she seemed really nice. So I thought, 'Okay, well, maybe this is the way I should start dating again, or...' So I asked her for her phone number, but being somewhat out of practice, I wasn't really sure, like, I had written it down right or how to... so I, like, right standing there, I called her just to make sure what it was and connected to her. I guess I had her call me and that way I got her last name, too, which was important. Anyway, I had her phone number and her name and then I left the party and I thought, 'Gee, I wonder how long after you get a girl's phone number you should wait until you call them these days.' And so I waited 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, I called her up and she was walking home from the party, which a little bit surprised me, because nobody walks in San Francisco and it was pretty late at night. And I realised, 'Gosh, I don't really know that much about her' and so I said, 'Would you like to come over to my house for a drink?' And she said, 'Yes, sure.' And I said, 'Well, would you like me to send an Uber for you?' I didn't know how to do any of this. And she's like, 'No, I can get an Uber myself.' And so she came over to Sausalito. And I was a little nervous and she walked in, and I said, 'So can I get you something to drink?' and she said, 'Sure, I'd like some wine.' And I'm like, 'Would you like red or white?' And she said, 'White.'

And so I go down to the basement where I used to keep the wine and discover all the wine is gone. There is no wine. So I go up a little, I'm saying, 'I'm sorry, we don't have any.' She's like, 'Oh, that's okay, I'll take red.' I'm like, 'Well, actually, we don't have any wine at all.' And she's like, 'Oh, that's alright. I'll just have some tea.' And so I go into the closet and of course there's no tea. And she's like, 'Well, just some sparkling water.' And of course, no sparkling water. So eventually I gave her some tap water and I think she kind of realised I wasn't really... I didn't really have my routine down for dating here, but she was smart enough to suggest that maybe we should have another date on Saturday and that she would provide the food and the drink. And so we agreed to get together for a hike, and so our first real date was the next Saturday and she brought a picnic lunch and we hiked up through Muir Woods and really hit it off and had a wonderful hike. And then it became clear, actually, we're a pretty great match. And... which was a little scary to me, because I had just decided to move to Boston and she was in San Francisco. But she picked up and moved here and it's been just wonderful. And the interesting thing is after about a year I was going through my pictures, and I actually had some photos that I'd taken on my phone from that first hike we took. And I looked at the date and realised it had been Valentine's Day. So our anniversary is Valentine's Day.

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: dating, love, date, hike, Valentine's Day

Duration: 4 minutes, 45 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2016

Date story went live: 05 July 2017