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Meet the Labbers: César Hidalgo

MIT Media Lab

In our ongoing audio series, Meet the Labbers, we hear people from all roles across the Media Lab talk about what they do and why they do it.  

Today, meet César Hidalgo.

"My name is César Hidalgo and I head the Macro Connections group at the MIT Media Lab. I grew up in Chile; grew up in a society in which wanting to be an inventor or a scientist was something that was not an option. You know, people were much more pragmatic about trying to get, like, a regular job. And as a kid, to be honest when I was building Legos I was thinking maybe I want to keep on combining things (laughs) for the rest of my life. I enjoyed being on the floor of my room tinkering with stuff, you know, and I would destroy toys and would rebuild them and make combinations of them. So I wanted to become an inventor or scientist.  I wanted to do a job in which I could be creative, because I find that’s what makes a job more fulfilling.

 I wanted to become an inventor or scientist. I wanted to do a job in which I could be creative.

Growing up in Chile, I remember on cable then in the late 1990s I would watch this Scientific American Frontiers show with Alan Alda, and many of those episodes were here in the Lab. At that time, I didn’t know where the Media Lab was, or anything. It was just like this super advanced lab in this, like, foreign country that was light years ahead of us. And then in 2010, when I came to the Lab, I saw that I finally was in a community in which other people valued other people that made things. I was a little bit maybe, you know, rusty by that time because I hadn’t been sitting down on the floor of my house in Santiago playing Legos for (laughs) you know, 20 years. But I went more into invention by creating tools that transform data into stories. And that freedom, being part of the community in which other people value people that make … makes a big difference. And this was a fit that I think I was waiting for all of my life."

Music: "Upbeat" by Saregama

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