- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (February 25, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 038553082X
- ISBN-13: 978-0385530828
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 696 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind 1st Edition
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Facts to ponder: there are as many stars in our galaxy (about 100 billion) as there are neurons in your brain; your cell phone has more computing power than NASA had when it landed Apollo 11 on the moon. These seemingly unrelated facts tell us two things: our brains are magnificently complex organisms, and science fiction has a way of becoming reality rather quickly. This deeply fascinating book by theoretical physicist Kaku explores what might be in store for our minds: practical telepathy and telekinesis; artificial memories implanted into our brains; and a pill that will make us smarter. He describes work being done right now on using sensors to read images in the human brain and on downloading artificial memories into the brain to treat victims of strokes and Alzheimer’s. SF fans might experience a sort of breathless thrill when reading the book—This stuff is happening! It’s really happening!—and for general readers who have never really thought of the brain in all its glorious complexity and potential, the book could be a seriously mind-opening experience. --David Pitt
Praise for The Future of the Mind, #1 New York Times Bestseller
“Compelling…Kaku thinks with great breadth, and the vistas he presents us are worth the trip”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Intriguing….extraordinary findings…A fascinating sprint through everything from telepathy research to the 147,456 processors of the Blue Gene computer, which has been used to simulate 4.5% of the brain’s synapses and neurons”
“Fizzes with his characteristic effervescence….Fascinating….. For all his talk of surrogates and intelligent robots, no manufactured being could have a fraction of his charisma.”
“A mind-bending study of the possibilities of the brain....a clear and readable guide to what is going on at a time of astonishingly rapid change.”
“In this expansive, illuminating journey through the mind, theoretical physicist Kaku (Physics of the Future) explores fantastical realms of science fiction that may soon become our reality. His futurist framework merges physics with neuroscience... applied to demonstrations that “show proof-of-principle” in accomplishing what was previously fictional: that minds can be read, memories can be digitally stored, and intelligences can be improved to great extents. The discussion, while heavily scientific, is engaging, clear, and replete with cinematic references... These new mental frontiers make for captivating reading”
“Kaku turns his attention to the human mind with equally satisfying results…Telepathy is no longer a fantasy since scanners can already detect, if crudely, what a subject is thinking, and genetics and biochemistry now allow researchers to alter memories and increase intelligence in animals. Direct electrical stimulation of distinct brain regions has changed behavior, awakened comatose patients, relieved depression, and produced out-of-body and religious experiences… Kaku is not shy about quoting science-fiction movies and TV (he has seen them all)… he delivers ingenious predictions extrapolated from good research already in progress.”
“Facts to ponder: there are as many stars in our galaxy (about 100 billion) as there are neurons in your brain; your cell phone has more computing power than NASA had when it landed Apollo 11 on the moon. These seemingly unrelated facts tell us two things: our brains are magnificently complex organisms, and science fiction has a way of becoming reality rather quickly. This deeply fascinating book by theoretical physicist Kaku explores what might be in store for our minds: practical telepathy and telekinesis; artificial memories implanted into our brains; and a pill that will make us smarter. He describes work being done right now on using sensors to read images in the human brain and on downloading artificial memories into the brain to treat victims of strokes and Alzheimer’s. SF fans might experience a sort of breathless thrill when reading the book—This stuff is happening! It’s really happening!—and for general readers who have never really thought of the brain in all its glorious complexity and potential, the book could be a seriously mind-opening experience.”
Praise for Physics of the Future
"[A] wide-ranging tour of what to expect from technological progress over the next century or so.... fascinating—and related with commendable clarity"--Wall Street Journal
"Mind-bending........Kaku has a gift for explaining incredibly complex concepts, on subjects as far-ranging as nanotechnology and space travel, in language the lay reader can grasp....engrossing"--San Francisco Chronicle
"Epic in its scope and heroic in its inspiration"--Scientific American
"[Kaku] has the rare ability to take complicated scientific theories and turn them into readable tales about what our lives will be like in the future.....fun...fascinating. And just a little bit spooky"--USA Today
Praise for Physics of the Impossible
"An invigorating experience"
-The Christian Science Monitor
“Kaku's latest book aims to explain exactly why some visions of the future may eventually be realized while others are likely to remain beyond the bounds of possibility. . . . Science fiction often explores such questions; science falls silent at this point. Kaku's work helps to fill a void.”—The Economist
“Mighty few theoretical physicists would bother expounding some of these possible impossibilities, and Kaku is to be congratulated for doing so. . . . [He gets] the juices of future physicists flowing.”—Los Angeles Times
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The theme of the book, as the title suggests, is the mind. As the most complex system that we know of, the human nervous system offers fertile ground for investigation. Among the sci-fi mainstays considered by Dr. Kaku are telepathy, telekinesis, false memories (think “Total Recall”), intelligence enhancement, mind control, artificial intelligence, and the nature of alien minds. Along the way he considers the challenges of reverse engineering the brain and whether consciousness could take a non-material form (e.g. embedded in a beam of light.)
As always, Kaku’s book is easy to follow, even for the scientific neophyte. Few others write on the topic with such clarity. While part of Kaku’s book deals with the same concepts covered by Roger Penrose in his book “Shadows of the Mind”, the Kaku book scores much higher in readability. Of course, the flipside is that Kaku’s book offers less explanatory power. So if one isn’t looking for pop science simplification, “The Future of the Mind” is probably not for you. However, if you want the jist of the science and have neither the background nor the energy to digest the mathematical and biological nuance, you’ll find this book readable.
Incidentally, Kaku is more optimistic about the ability to computationally replicate consciousness than Penrose, which the latter argues is impossible. Professor Kaku’s optimism runs through all of his books. He takes the stance that if one can imagine it--and figure out a technological or theoretical loophole around the known barriers --one can achieve it. Therefore, some of his discussion of what could come to pass depends upon theories about, for example, black-holes being true. It should be noted that Kaku is quite clear about the differences of opinion that exist about these theories and the role that differences between theory and reality could play in making science fiction into scientific reality.
I enjoyed this book. I’ve been reading a lot about neuroscience lately—entirely on the pop science level- and found this book to be beneficial to my understanding of the subject. It begins by discussing what is known about the brain and consciousness—it turns out that a lot remains unknown, but the technology of recent years has vastly improved our understanding of the brain, and it continues to do so by the day. The book also delves into the depths of what could come to be. There is definitely pragmatic understanding to be gained as well as outlandish, but fun, science fiction ruminations.
For sci-fi fans and writers, it’s definitely worth reading. I had many new conceptions of the future as I read the book. (I might suggest reading "Physics of the Impossible" first, which gives an overview many “impossible” technologies and explains how few are just flat impossible regardless of technological development and scientific discovery.) Many of the ideas covered may seem a bit eccentric, such as what first contact with an alien race would look like. (Kaku is of the notion that the transmission of an immaterial consciousness(es), possibly in conjunction with self-replicating machines would be the likely shape of such an alien presence.)
I recommend this book for almost anyone. We are really only beginning to venture out of the dark ages understanding the mind, and this book provides an interesting map what might be possible.
The tone can be described as being conversational, at many times the author references his conversations with scientists who specialize on the particular topic. Although I dislike the importation of personal anecdotes in scientific texts, the author doesn't use them to prove a point or supplement an idea but rather to give a human touch and provide a consensus - pertinent point of view. There is indeed a lot to fathom, and although I can personally grasp a lot of novel futuristic ideas, I did have a hard time with some of the concepts in this book. I think some things are overly speculative and perhaps should have been developed further before being introduced in the book. This leads the title "The Future Of The Mind" to be a bit misleading. The word "speculative" or "uncertain" would be a more germane addition to the title, and do it better justice. Also, the content is not at least to the degree of high majority about the mind. What I mean is that many other things are discussed, like AI (artificial intelligence), societal implications, and research institutions. This isn't to knock the intellectual integrity of such discussions, but rather the elusive title. This is my only criticism, or rather importunity, to a otherwise well-written and interesting book.
Most recent customer reviews
He speaks in plain English yet explains complex physics so well, that anyone can understand...Read more