03-04-14:Michio Kaku Foresees 'The Future of the Mind'
Form Follows Function
Michio Kaku, has, in 'The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance and Empower the Mind,' managed to write a book that by its own definition might itself be said to possess a degree of consciousness. In it, Kaku envisions not just the future of human consciousness, but as well, the future of books themselves, which may be woven into the brain-net he sees right around the corner.
No matter what comes to pass in the future, all we have in the here-and-now is Kaku's outstanding and engaging survey of what we know of the brain in the present moment, and what we might be able to learn about and do with it in the future. Neuroscience is all the rage, but what Kaku brings to the overhyped and over-amped discussion are his perceptions as a physicist and his skills as a futurist. Add to that his ability to craft direct prose that inspires a science-fictional sense of wonder, and you have a book for the present that will offers time well-spent in your reading future.
Kaku begins with a survey of where we are now with regards to understanding all sorts of consciousness, up to and including that of humans. He cites a lot of familiar names to those who have read in this genre, and he's talked to many more. What makes Kaku unique here is his ability to synthesize a lot of theories through his lens on the world as a physicist. He comes up with a reasonable definition of consciousness that he applies to everything from a thermostat to, well, us. Per Kaku, our level of consciousness is contingent on our ability to imagine ourselves in a future and then base our decisions in the present on that vision. And thus, in this book, form follows function.
Kaku doesn't waste time. Once he's got the present down to something we can wrap our brains around, he bounds off to the edges of that present to show us the new science that's going to lead us into a version, at least, of the future we've seen in science fiction. He knows how to amaze us with what's being done in this moment. Telepathy! (Of a sort.) Telekinesis! (But not a la 'Carrie.') Uploading memories, down loading memories, photographing dreams. To his credit, Kaku sticks to the real world, and he manages to provide a real "gee-whiz!" factor with every revelation.
'The Future of the Mind' is cunning crafted, with one chapter leading breathlessly into the next. He keeps his subject short and very much to the point. He reaches but never overreaches. This book is serious fun for anyone who ever looked at the cover of a cheesy science fiction novel, movie box or magazine and thought "Cool! I want to be there!" Kaku gets you there, without the BS, and sans the hand-waving science.
Kaku is also a master of misdirection. 'The Future of the Mind' is ever, always, firmly grounded in what's real. He probably has his own specialized "I'm a physicist" function key. But nobody and I mean nobody can read this book without being inspired to think about what is not real. 'The Future of the Mind' is a collection of facts that manages to inspire the best sort of fantasy. Reading this book, one can't help but look forward to Walt Disney's (and Philip K. Dick's), great big beautiful tomorrow, coming at the end of the day. But Kaku lets you know that day is here — and tomorrow is an exercise left for the reader.
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03-04-14: Commentary : Michio Kaku Foresees 'The Future of the Mind' : Form Follows Function