Inventor, scientist, author, engineer -- over his broad career, Danny Hillis has turned his ever-searching brain on an array of subjects, with surprising results.
Danny Hillis is an inventor, scientist, author and engineer. While completing his doctorate at MIT, he pioneered the concept of parallel computers that is now the basis for most supercomputers, as well as the RAID array. He holds over 100 US patents, covering parallel computers, disk arrays, forgery prevention methods, and various electronic and mechanical devices, and has recently been working on problems in medicine as well. He is also the designer of a 10,000-year mechanical clock, and he gave a TED Talk in 1994 that is practically prophetic. Throughout his career, Hillis has worked at places like Disney and now Applied Minds, always looking for the next fascinating problem.
“A human body is a conversation going on, both within the cells and between the cells, and they’re telling each other to grow and to die; when you’re sick, something’s gone wrong with that conversation.”
“Your genome knows much more about your medical history than you do.”
“If transportation technology was moving along as fast as microprocessor technology, then the day after tomorrow I would be able to get in a taxi cab and be in Tokyo in 30 seconds.”
“[Language is] really a pretty amazing invention if you think about it. Here I have a very complicated, messy, confused idea in my head. I'm sitting here making grunting sounds and hopefully constructing a similar messy, confused idea in your head that bears some analogy to it.”
“We're at a point in time which is analogous to when single-celled organisms were turning into multi-celled organisms. So we're the amoebas.”
“What we need is a plan B … independent of the Internet. [It] doesn't necessarily have to have the performance of the Internet, but the police department has to be able to call up the fire department.”
“People are mostly focused on defending the computers on the Internet, and there's been surprisingly little attention to defending the Internet itself as a communications medium. [We] need to pay some more attention to that, because it's actually kind of fragile.”
“[An] attitude of only taking what you need … was actually kind of built into the protocols of the Internet itself.”
“If you hear an expert talking about the Internet and saying it [does] this, or it will do that, you should treat it with the same skepticism that you might treat the comments of an economist about the economy or a weatherman about the weather.”