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Michio Kaku: Future of the mind

500 Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics - April-June 2015 - Volume 11 - Issue 2
Michio Kaku: Future of the mind
Book Review
Mind has always been a mysterious concept in our
daily discourse. Various hypotheses and definitions
have been offered, but none has been accepted as
a universal definition. Mind remains ubiquitous
and undefinable. Is mind substantive? Is it made
up of some “mind stuff?” Or it is nonmaterial but
energy? These have been the questions without
definitive answers. Equally difficult is the concept
of consciousness. Enormous stuff has been written
on consciousness by the erudite from science to
spirituality, but the concept has escaped all of the
erudition. However, what is universally accepted
is that the brain is the seat of the mind. Thoughts
appear in the mind. Hence, a safe definition
seems to be “one’s mind is the collection of one’s
thoughts.” Since thoughts are made possible by the
brain they can be “controlled” by manipulating the
brain. That is the stance of scientists – physicists
and neuro‑scientists.
This book by Michio Kaku delves deep into the
brain‑machine science in some detail and he offers
a peep into the future of the mind. Michio Kaku is
a Nobel Laureate in Physics and his name to fame
is the string theory, the theory that Einstein was
looking for to explain everything that’s happening
in our world. The main problem that physics
of today faces is the theoretical incompatibility
between the microcosm and the macrocosm and
string theory hopes to bridge the two.
The book addresses a lot of interesting questions.
Is it possible to read thoughts using the currently
available digital technologies? Kaku’s interaction
with scientists working in the brain‑machine project
shows that they have been able to read a person’s
thoughts by simply mapping the brain. If this is
so then a whole new set of applications become
possible and the technology is a game changer.
Look at the plethora of medical applications this
technology offers. A paralyzed person can do a
number of things by attaching his brain to a robot
through a “thought machine.” An exoskeleton
on a paralyzed person can make him move. The
technology will make the concepts of telepathy
and tele‑kinetics shift from magic to reality. Just
imagine the advantage a criminal investigator
has trying to extract accurate information from a
suspected criminal! The applications are vast and
can make a huge impact.
The more difficult but an important question is: Is
it possible to put thoughts into person’s mind
without his/her knowledge? Even this question
is answered in the affirmative by the author. This
technology has enormous medical applications
but also can be a potential threat to the society at
large. Schizophrenics, for example, can be cured by
deadening certain parts of the brain and activating
other relevant parts. The neural structures in any
part of the brain can be replaced by customized
chips. Just imagine this technology in the hands
of a dictator, it is a pure nightmare.
The advances in neuro‑sciences indicate that it will
be possible to also transport the entire “mind” and
place it outside the body. In the future, a person
on earth can have his mind transported to Mars
and keep his mind alive even after he is dead and
gone! Also, a father can talk to his dead daughter.
The landscape is enormous and exciting.
“One day, scientists might construct an “internet
of the mind,” or a brain‑net, where thoughts
and emotions are sent electronically around the
world. Even dreams will be videotaped and then
“brain‑mailed” across the internet”, says the
Going beyond mind, the author also addresses the
issue of consciousness. So what is consciousness?
Here is the definition by Michio Kaku.
“Consciousness is the process of creating a model of
the world using multiple feedback loops in various
parameters (e.g., in temperature, space, time, and
in relation to others), in order to accomplish a
goal (e.g., find mates, food, shelter).” He uses this
definition to classify all life into different classes.
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Author: Michio Kaku
Publisher: Random House
Price: US$ 25
Year of Publication: 2014
C. R. Sridhar
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Sridhar: Will mind exist the way it is today?
Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics - April-June 2015 - Volume 11 - Issue 2
However, this definition, even though it is interesting, does
not form the core of the book.
The author also has interesting results on savants, who display
extra‑ordinary skills like superfast computational skills. Most
of the savants are autistic and others have a slight damage
to the left frontal lobe. It is possible that many of the mystics
and self‑realized souls actually have had an alteration in
specific areas of the brain. Experiments show that “God
Realization” can be simulated in healthy normal human beings
by stimulating specific areas in the brain. Maybe we will see
clinics in the future that can give god experience, for a fee of
Michio Kaku paints a panoramic picture of where the scientists
are taking the brain‑machine science and what to expect out of
these researches in the next years to come. As nano‑technology
become sophisticated, the computational capabilities shoot up
exponentially the future of the mind becomes more certain.
The future is fascinating and at the same time unnerving. The
technology can free humans and at the same time imprison
them in their own bodies. Where is all this advancement taking
us? More we discover we realize smaller we are in the cosmic
screen. “In other words, just as astronomy has reduced us to
insignificant pieces of cosmic dust floating in an uncaring
universe, neuroscience has reduced us to electrical signals
circulating within neural circuits. However, is this really true?”
asks Michio Kaku. We don’t know, maybe the honest answer.
After the complete exploration of the brain biology and digital
dredging the Nobel Laureate concludes with “the material
world may come and go, but consciousness remains as the
defining element, which means that consciousness, in some
sense, creates reality. The very existence of the atoms we see
around us is based on our ability to see and touch them.”
Looks like the Upanishads saw this long ago, but then that’s
not science!
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