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Michio Kaku on Singularity 1 on 1: Science is the Engine of Prosperity!

Michio Kaku

Dr. Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist, bestselling author, acclaimed public speaker, renowned futurist, and popularizer of science. As co-founder of String Field Theory, Dr. Kaku carries on Einstein’s quest to unite the four fundamental forces of nature into a single grand unified theory of everything. You will not be surprised to hear that Michio Kaku has been on my guest dream-list since I started Singularity 1 on 1, and I was beyond ecstatic to finally have an opportunity to speak to him.

During our 90 min conversation with Dr. Michio Kaku we cover a variety of interesting topics such as: why he shifted his focus from the universe to the human mind; his definition, classification and ranking of consciousness; his take on the Penrose-Hameroff Orch OR model; Newton, Einstein, determinism and free will; whether the brain is a classical computer or not; Norman Doidge’s work on neuro-plasticity and The Brain That Changes Itself; the underlying reality of everything; his dream to finish what Einstein has started and know the mind of God; The Future of the Mind; mind-uploading and space travel at the speed of light; Moore’s Law and D-Wave’s quantum computer; the Human Brain Project and whole brain simulation; alternatives paths to AI and the Turing Test as a way of judging progress; cryonics and what is possible and impossible…

(You can listen to/download the audio file above or watch the video interview in full. If you want to help me produce more episodes like this one please make a donation!)

 

Who is Michio Kaku?

michio-kaku-chalkboardDr. Michio Kaku has starred in a myriad of science programming for television including Discovery, Science Channel, BBC, ABC, and History Channel. Beyond his numerous bestselling books, he has also been a featured columnist for top popular science publications such as Popular Mechanics, Discover, COSMOS, WIRED, New Scientist, Newsweek, and many others. Dr. Kaku was also one of the subjects of the award-winning documentary, ME & ISAAC NEWTON by Michael Apted.

He is a news contributor to CBS:This Morning and is a regular guest on news programs around the world including CBS, Fox News, CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, RT. He has also made guest appearances on all major talk shows including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Conan on TBS, and others.

Michio Kaku hosts two weekly radio programs heard on stations around the country and podcast around the world. He is the co-creator of string field theory, a branch of string theory. He received a B.S. (summa cum laude) from Harvard University in 1968 where he came first in his physics class. He went on to the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley and received a Ph.D. in 1972. In 1973, he held a lectureship at Princeton University.

Michio continues Einstein’s search for a “Theory of Everything,” seeking to unify the four fundamental forces of the universe—the strong force, the weak force, gravity and electromagnetism.

He is the author of several scholarly, Ph.D. level textbooks and has had more than 70 articles published in physics journals, covering topics such as superstring theory, supergravity, supersymmetry, and hadronic physics.

Dr. Kaku holds the Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in theoretical physics at the City College of New York (CUNY), where he has taught for over 25 years. He has also been a visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, as well as New York University (NYU).

 

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  • natasha vitamore

    Michio Kaku seems like a bright man, but his comments about cryonics are uneducated and biased. One wonders why the split in his logic.

  • CM Stewart

    “The whole purpose of science is to see the difference between appearance and essence.” -Kaku

    Beautiful! Thank you, Dr. Kaku and Nikola, for an excellent interview!

  • As usual you picked up a great quote Cynthia!

  • Carvalko

    I thoroughly enjoyed your interview of Michio Kaku. I have read a few of his books and value his knowledge and insights into physics, but I think that what he referred to as his definition of consciousness left me with more than a few questions. Admittedly I have not read his new book, “The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empowerthe Mind,” which may answer points that quickly came to mind during the
    interview-so to the extent I seem critical below, I apologize in advance if he
    has already answered the points I raise. He said that: “consciousness is a
    process of creating multiple feedback loops to create a model of yourself in
    space, with regards to others, and in time, to satisfy certain goals.” This
    definition or model (I am not sure which it is, maybe both) flows from his
    statement that there are 3 stages of consciousness: first it permits an
    understanding of our position in space, allows the construction of a social
    reality and allows thoughts about the future. I suppose what MK is doing is
    advancing a conceptual framework, employing metaphors such as “creating,”
    “multiple feedback loops,” “yourself,” “space,” “time,”and “goals.” Notably
    lacking is the structure that would create of multiple feedback loops. Without
    more, his definition does not seem as if it is a scientific statement– one
    that can be examined, replicated and subjected to attempts at falsification.
    Aside from lacking structure, I do not get a sense that there is an explanation
    about how it works. Is there evidence that a process (presumable one that is
    measurable) exists that creates or causes feedback loops? And, are these loops
    attached to some preexisting structure? If so what kind of structure is it
    (analog, digital, exclusively ionic or electronic transport as well)? I suppose
    he has a neuron in mind—or more specifically the collection neurons, (2 raised
    to 10 to the 11th power, collectively firing on the order of 2 raised to 10 to
    the 11th power further raised to the 10 to the 2nd power, times 1,000 per
    second, by my calculation). I would assume that the feedback loops are part of
    the connectome network i.e., the pathways, by which inputs, transformed by some
    non-linear mechanism, having a defined transfer function, influence subsequent
    inputs (added, merged, ion/electron, intensity, phase and frequency)—a hybrid
    learning machine concept, weights and all, or does it operate in a
    Nyquist/Weiner mode (positive/negative feedback) or like a Turing machine with
    digital feedback? I imagine that this neuronal circuit reveals some essential
    observable feature that helps flesh out MK’s “process of creating.” These facts
    are necessary to frame a hypothesis (sometimes as MK apparently has, in the
    form of a definition or model). But, it is not yet, as I understand, verified
    (examined, replicated and able to withstand the slings and arrows of
    falsification, where it might provisionally mature into an accepted law of
    nature. Even after all this might come to fruition, it is not clear that we
    would have discovered “what consciousness is.” A model might attempt to map experience
    onto both process and structure, but this can only be achieved as disclosed by
    the facts, as nature reveals. So, when such things as “feedback loops” are used
    in MK’s definition, I respectfully offer that it lacks a framework for
    investigation the underlying process and structure that causes the experience
    of consciousness.

  • I feel very much the same way Joe. In fact, I don’t think that Michio Kaku did actually answer directly my follow up question on a specific number i.e. measurement of consciousness, which capture the phenomenon of consciousness in absolute terms rather than a vague relativistic terms with respect to plants, alligators, monkeys etc…

  • Matthew Fuller

    A meta-analysis of the Darl Bem paper can be explained away by skeptics be presuming a flaw in methodology:

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2423692

    Contrast that dismissal of evidence with actually addressing the issue in the case of flawed data for the existence of gravitational waves:

    http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/jun/04/gravitational-wave-discovery-dust-big-bang-inflation.

    The commonality between the two different subjects is the awesome level of statistical evidence. One is a serious subject, the other is an epiphenomena because it gets labeled as non-physical.

    A simple solution to PSI’s supposed wackiness is the future traveling backwards into the past. This doesn’t violate physics, or at least I thought your guess implied this during the discussion himself.

    I lack mad scientist cred so I won’t take sides. I am pleading for less
    interviews and for you to replace some of your discussions with disagreeing experts that use the power of the internet to aid communication. Debates suck. Especially emails or live debates designed to entertain. You need to solve the expert disagreement communication problem, or someone does. Problem is, those who really disagree and can learn the most from each other don’t learn anything.

    IF they learned, it would be both entertaining and enlightening.

  • Matthew Fuller

    A pertinent example for this show (on expert disagreement) :

    http://www.kurzweilai.net/ask-ray-response-to-announcement-of-chatbot-eugene-goostman-passing-the-turing-test

    Could it be really actually true that Kevin Warwick believes that a robot can pass the turing test? Does he really think this AI is what was envisioned by Turing in terms of the intuition one gets in talking (ok, typing) to another person? Just email me your response as to why we can’t discuss this further. I mean really, is the problem of status *that* deep?

    Please. Its too hard to bear the burden of the truth but perhaps its bad reporting to blame here. I hope so. Why can’t we have good discussions where people change their minds? Why?

  • The ability to accurately predict future consequences was one answer, another was the degree of complexity of nero-connections, (took him awhile to get around to it). Great interview — I liked his ‘most important idea to convey’ that “science is the engine of prosperity”, however science is only the engine (not the whole vehicle); so saying that “applying intellect as money manipulators destroys prosperity” is not entirely accurate either. Science (and money management) must be balanced to create and sustain prosperity. Value creation is the vehicle, and both science and management are elements. For example: It is possible that CERN created some value, and applying the same investment to a project such as ET3 would be many orders of magnitude more likely to produce immediate and long term prosperity.

  • Great interview — I liked his ‘most important idea to convey’ that “science is the engine of prosperity”, however science is only the engine (not the whole vehicle); and saying that “applying intellect as money manipulators (lawyers and politicians) destroys prosperity” is not entirely accurate either. Scientists are not always value creators, in fact they often manipulate their influence to take value from value producers (tax payers). When this happens enough, Atlas shrugs.

    Science (and legal and money management) must be balanced to create and sustain prosperity. Value creation is the prosperity vehicle, and both science and management are key elements. For example: It is possible that CERN created some net value that may result in future prosperity; and applying the same investment intensity to a value maximizing project (such as ET3) would be far more likely to produce immediate and long term prosperity (but would feed fewer scientists).

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