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Earning money as a paper boy


Culture shock on return to America
W Daniel Hillis Scientist
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After India we returned to Baltimore. Baltimore was always kind of home base because my father was based at Johns Hopkins. So we went back to Baltimore. But the '60s had happened. I mean, we went back to Baltimore maybe 1969/1970. And it was a different country than what I had left. I remember being very shocked coming back to America. Actually shocked first coming back to... We landed in Hawaii first, and seeing all the green grass with nobody living on it. And just thinking what a waste it was. And seeing people throw things away and having nobody scavenging. And just being kind of overwhelmed and shocked by how wealthy everybody was in America, after having lived in India.

And being so really kind of offended by the waste of everything. You know, people would run perfectly good drinking water all over lawns just to grow grass, to cut the grass, to throw it away, to... And it was much more of a culture shock to come back to America than it was to go to 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: culture, shock, 1960s, waste

Duration: 1 minute, 32 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2016

Date story went live: 08 August 2017