Friday, September 19, 2014

Book: Michio Kaku's "Physics Of The Future"

When I was young(er) Carl Sagan was the scientist that you saw on the television.  He acted as a conduit between science and the ordinary person.  He died in 1996.  Since then the role of conduit has fallen to at least three people: Bill Nye (the science guy), Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Michio Kaku.

When I think of science I often find myself thinking about the future and the technology that will be born from cutting edge science.  I have always liked to read forecasts of technological progress.  Over the years I have seen many predictions come and go.  Personal Jet Packs?  Nope.  Flying cars?  Not yet.  Space colonies in the 70s and men walking on Mars by the 80s?  Not even remotely close.  I've been disillusioned many times but I can't help from seeking out the next prediction.  That's why I read Michio Kaku's "Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100".

Professor Kaku attempts to forecast the development of technology between today and the year 2100 using interviews with scientists, engineers, and observing trends.  You can tell that he has learned the lessons taught by other, less successful, prognosticators.  His forecasts are more conservative and in the process of writing this book he has gone after several sacred cows of many futurists.

I'm not sure how to describe how this book made me feel.  On one hand the realism Professor Kaku injects into his projections is refreshing.  On the other hand the sacred cows ... things like the singularity, sentient artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and other really cool technology ... are things I have always been excited about. It was a bummer to read a well written argument for why the cool stuff you hoped to see some day will not happen in the next one hundred years.

There's another thing about this book that reduced it's enjoyability for me.  I spend a lot of my web browsing time looking at technology and reading how things may progress in the future.  Because of this, most of the things Professor Kaku writes about I already knew about.  I don't think there was anything really new for me.  For someone who hasn't kept of with science and technological trends this book would be a useful overview.  For me ... it felt like a retread.  This isn't the books fault.  I just picked the wrong book to read.

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