Tags: Kaku | brain | mind | lie

Bestseller Looks at Future of the Mind

By    |   Friday, 04 April 2014 07:54 AM

Michio Kaku recently presented his book The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance and Empower the Mind in Kansas City. Kaku began with an entertaining monologue, quoting the famed philosopher Yogi Berra saying that it is difficult to make predictions, especially regarding the future, which is always good for a chuckle. Berra has also said that he didn't actually say everything he said.

Kaku also quoted Woody Allen saying, "Eternity is a long time, especially near the end." He recalled expectations when the Internet was invented (neglecting to credit Al Gore) that it would be used to advance culture, art and social thought, whereas 5 percent of the traffic is pornography. He quipped that if the oldest users were disaggregated, it would be 50 percent.

The author assured his audience that it would not be easy for technology to duplicate the human brain, because it would have to be as large as a city block and would require a nuclear power plant to operate and a river to cool. However, in the last five to 10 years, research has learned as much about the mind as in the rest of history.

The Obama administration has launched a billion-dollar program called "The Brain Initiative," which is intended to do for the brain what the Human Genome Project did for genetics. Experiments have established the ability of brain scans to act as lie detectors, because they show much more activity when one is lying as when the subject is telling the truth. Another experiment confirms the view widespread in the culture that men turn silly when they attempt to converse with pretty women, confirmed by a draining of blood from the reasoning center of the brain.

After the link between the hemispheres of the brain was severed in order to control seizures, it was learned that the hemispheres could harbor different personalities. For example, one half could be manic, while the other could be depressive. Kaku speculated that a person could be a Democrat in one hemisphere and Republican in the other.

Kaku gave some amazing examples of recent advances that have been reminiscent of mental levitation stunts from old carnivals, as people who have lost the use of all but their ability to think have been able to use those thoughts to manipulate mechanical arms by bypassing the exoskeleton and the spinal cord. A famous example is the case of Kaku's colleague Stephen Hawking, who can do no more but blink although it can manipulate complex machinery mentally.

Another remarkable stunt that has real-life application is the ability to use brain scanners to capture thoughts, and over time, the scanning equipment required to accomplish this will get smaller and more powerful. For example, an experiment has been done whereby a mouse's thought of drinking water has been recorded, then it was erased, so that the mouse would no longer drink water, then uploaded, and the mouse would drink again.

I can imagine people receiving files of thoughts that tell them to vote for the Party and to do it now.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Michio Kaku recently presented his book The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance and Empower the Mind in Kansas City.
Friday, 04 April 2014 07:54 AM
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