So instead of spending hours hunting for the witty words to persuade the reading of this book I’ll just cut to the quick. Michio Kaku does a fine and informed job not only in speculating our technological and cultural future as driven by science, he does so without invoking the predictable dystopian frownies with which science seems in a constant state of handholding. In his Physics of the Future, it’s hard not to marvel at how much easier science will be making our lives, not only now but in just few years to come.
Kaku smartly concentrates his dissection of human scientific endeavor in three stages for the common person in this century: the near future, mid century, and the far future (until 2100). Methodically moving from our reliance upon and discarding of the now obsolete desktop/laptop computer to our eventual mastery of artificial intelligence and robotic fabrication, microchipping and nanotechnology, to the unlocking of unlimited new energy sources, Kaku plainly (though with plenty of detail) sings the silent tsunami of our scientific evolution, providing unlimited possibilities of our survival and potential.
Of particular interest and importance is his foreshadowing of our fulfillment of Moore’s Law, predicting the eventual scrapheap of the modern computer as we know it, in favor of the exponential micro-advances already in development today, such as smart lensing and the microchipping of nearly everything we will use to augment and enhance our sense of reality. In our quest to make everything convenient, our robots will aid in every aspect of our lives, whether fully integrated within our bodies or swarming interstellar space as nano-probes, searching for and designing our future modes of habitability. Our current, feeble attempts at harnessing green energy will eventually lead to better and smaller fusion reactors even magnetic transportation, promising the ability to fly and hover at will.
Alas, all is not rosy within our microchipped HUD lenses. Humanity will inevitably be confronted with hard decisions and sacrifice in paving this future. In addition to the obvious implications of our advances in medicine, the issues of human evolution and robotics resound heavily in his book. Is it inevitable that humans will integrate themselves, even their consciousness, into more mechanical beings? Will there be singularity of consciousness in which our machines think better than we do, rather than just compute? Is this a natural evolution for us?
Whatever the answer, Kaku can’t be blamed for continually disclaiming that the future is indeed in our hands, and that we have the ability to prevent all sorts of silly Skynet scenarios from becoming reality. The real tragedy Kaku hints, is within our own limitations, our fears and dependence upon archaic governance structures that preserve and protect their own interests rather than those they purportedly represent. Despite our ever-exponentially advancing scientific and technological progress, Kaku states, Humanity will continually grasp toward the stars while still having their feet firmly planted in the mud. Whether that is a good thing is yet to be determined, but it too, is reality. If anything, reading the final chapter “a day in the life in 2100″ offers an excellent summary of the beautifully chaotic control we may very soon possess. Physics of the Future is an excellent speculation of science-fact, nicely serving as reference upon the futurist’s and inquisitive’s bookshelf.