The Future According to Michio Kaku

The mariner drove to Colorado to visit family and attend to an apartment complex he owns. The trip is lengthy at 12 hours. It can be accomplished in one day but now the mariner takes two days to cover the distance – two six-hour drives is plenty.

While driving he listened to Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Michio KakuHuman Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 by Michio Kaku. A photograph of Michio Kaku is included in case you have not placed name with face.

The first part of the book describes how fast technology advances. In the last one hundred years, educated scientists predicted technological achievement at a much slower pace than how technology actually advanced. The automobile and aircraft existed around one hundred years ago and both were considered novelties that generally were not useful. One insightful scientist suggested that air balloons will be the main form of personal transportation – as common as the automobile today. No one believed high-speed trains were possible within the next one hundred years.

By 2100, Kaku predicts a full integration of every aspect of our lives. The Internet will enable the following:

Each piece of clothing you wear will have a chip that tracks wear and tear and will order a replacement automatically with a design approved by you. You may choose to select another design by scrolling through a specialized catalog based on your past selections. There is no mention of credit cards. The same is true for every object in your life. In a conversation with someone about the book, they asked, “Does that include spouses?”

The desktop, laptop, and handheld devices will disappear within a decade and slowly be replaced by contact lenses with a microchip embedded that performs all the automated functions you perform today on current devices.

There is a rule called Moore’s Law that says computer speed doubles every 18 months. It has held true since the invention of the first computer. Kaku says there is a limit where changes in technology will end Moore’s law. At that point, all information everywhere in the world will be simultaneous and available to anyone. Interestingly, Kaku says that as we implement the new technology, it will reduce the effectiveness of capitalism, which depends on exclusive information and time advantage. But everyone will already know everything and everyone world-wide will be introducing new information at the same time, sort of like Facebook except the input will be useful.

The walls of rooms in your house will be covered with wallpaper that is also a computer screen. Change the color and pattern with your contact lens computer. The walls are interactive with your movement. Further, you can place yourself anywhere in the world in a true three dimensional interactive way. For example, in your room, you can walk the streets of Rome in real time interacting with real people in Rome who will need contact lenses. Do not worry about language differences. As you speak with an Italian, the Internet will automatically make it sound as if you are speaking Italian and vice versa. Remember you are in Italy real time via the Internet. You will be able even to feel the loose stones on the street. The mariner can imagine that this capability will eliminate public transportation. Just blink your eye and click your heels!

You will have access to all knowledge instantly. Kaku predicts that soon, perhaps much less than 100 years, as you walk the streets and focus on a person coming toward you, that person’s name and biographical information pops up on your contact lens. Not just certain familiar persons, every person will be identified by face recognition. Every person! The mariner likes this part because remembering names, among many other things, is increasingly difficult.

A new form of x-ray will give you Superman’s power to see through walls and other objects. The mariner began to wonder about all these powers. He has been around the world a bit. He knows that some men wear women’s panties because they are more comfortable and, perhaps, there are Freudian perceptions at play. If a man walks into a room where others wait for his presentation, what effect will there be if everyone knows the man is wearing panties?

Using the seemingly transportable power of being anywhere in the world, places like Manhattan will be overrun with people from everywhere – or maybe if someone transported themselves to Times Square, it would appear empty because everyone in Manhattan transported themselves somewhere else – or everyone in Times Square is from everywhere but Manhattan. The imagination runs wild.

Kaku says that the combination of speed of light communications with universal awareness will enable a global culture. Nationalism, radical and reactionary movements, insider power and financial moves will diminish if not disappear altogether. Everyone will know everyone in context and everyone will have absolute knowledge.

Finally, Michio Kaku says we will have the power of the gods to create life in any form – even new types of life like a short-necked Giraffe who will viciously bite your toes off. We will heal with hand-held devices seen on Startrek, track viruses at the viral level and destroy them before you even know you may be getting a cold. Any cellular irregularity will be destroyed by a special injection using your own DNA. Your doctor, insurance company, boss and mother-in-law will know these things as they happen. Thank goodness for the Internet.

The mariner is overwhelmed, entertained and feels exposed. It may be the beginning of a technical version of transcendentalism. Emerson wrote in his 1837 speech The American Scholar“:

“So shall we come to look at the world with new eyes. It shall answer the endless inquiry of the intellect, — What is truth? and of the affections, — What is good? by yielding itself passive to the educated Will. …Build, therefore, your own world. As fast as you conform your life to the pure idea in your mind, that will unfold its great proportions. A correspondent revolution in things will attend the influx of the spirit.”

Indeed. The Internet will allow us to conform our life to the pure idea in our individual minds while in our living room. Shades of The Matrix – at least we don’t have to conform our life in a casket! Will we all transcend the evils of human institutions and social class disparity? Will we have enlightenment? Will everyone know that we don’t have enlightenment?

Ancient Mariner


2 thoughts on “The Future According to Michio Kaku

  1. Does the Ancient Mariner really believe all these things will happen by 2100? I have great respect for Dr. Kaku, but I think what he’s saying is science fantasy. Remember the Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines of the 1950s where it was predicted that we would all be flying around cities in personal flying machines? Thank goodness that hasn’t come to pass. “Everyone will know everything”? Poppycock. Maybe in a thousand years, but I wouldn’t even bet on that. I think I’ll stick around to see what really happens.

  2. Your perspective is appropriately skeptical. In the first page or two Kaku discounts all “non-science” disciplines who try to see into the future. His book is limited in that these disciplines, for example sociology and economics just to name two, will also have their own “advances” by 2100. Kaku admits that he is forecasting only scientific advancement. Given that rule, he can project a fantasy world that challenges many religious, behavioral and philosophical concepts that are not subject to Moore’s law. Further, our species strives for authority whether money or information and will use the electronic utopia to their own advantage. It is true that everyone will not know everything. Even now the Internet is under assault by commercial and retail corporations to slow down the citizen user’s connection speed. This would allow corporations to limit the citizens use of other available information and prevent competitive corporations from utilizing your connection.

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