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My first memory of Africa


My fondness for India
W Daniel Hillis Scientist
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So India was really a wonderful place. It was also... We were old enough that we were able to have adventures of our own, but young enough that we didn't feel responsible for fixing all the wrongs, because, you know, there's clearly things that if I'd seen them first as an adult would have been really upsetting. As a child you just accept them.

And so I think about India that I have maybe an attitude about India more like somebody who was born in India. In a sense that you accept certain things, it's the way they are. In a way that I probably wouldn't if I just saw them first as an adult. So I think I have maybe a more Indian attitude about India. But I've always loved it. And I always thought it would be like a great centre of computing and science because the Indians are very intellectual, particularly the Bengalis and they always thought that computers were going to be very, very important for India. Indians were going to be very important for computers, and indeed that's turned out to be the case. And I still have a fondness for India which is why I named my daughter India.

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: India

Duration: 1 minute, 30 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2016

Date story went live: 08 August 2017