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Mrs Catherine – a teacher of wonderful misinformation

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Living in rural Louisiana
W Daniel Hillis Scientist
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So I lived a very happy childhood. My family was very close, my brothers and sisters were very close. And my father studied hepatitis. So every time there was an epidemic some place we would rush off and live in strange parts of the world. So I remember the first was Africa. But before we went to Africa we had to go down to Louisiana where chimpanzees were, to the Delta Primate Centre. And I lived in rural Louisiana for a while while they learnt to operate on chimpanzees and studied chimpanzees.

And I had a... So I have lots of memories of Louisiana then. And that was the days when segregation was still very common in the South and may parents told me it was wrong.

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: Louisiana, Delta Primate Centre

Duration: 1 minute, 5 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2016

Date story went live: 08 August 2017