The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind Info

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Reviews for The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind:

5

Mar 11, 2014

What a wonderfully "feel-good" book about science! Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist, and a well-known author of popular books about physics, especially the future of physics. In this book, he strays a bit from physics, and enters the realms of biology, neuroscience, evolution, and the brain. Kaku admits that he is not an expert in these fields. However, he writes so engagingly, his fast-paced, light-hearted writing style, and fearless exploration of a wide range of topics makes this a very What a wonderfully "feel-good" book about science! Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist, and a well-known author of popular books about physics, especially the future of physics. In this book, he strays a bit from physics, and enters the realms of biology, neuroscience, evolution, and the brain. Kaku admits that he is not an expert in these fields. However, he writes so engagingly, his fast-paced, light-hearted writing style, and fearless exploration of a wide range of topics makes this a very fun book to read.

This book explores a wide range of topics, including consciousness, telepathy, telekinesis, memories, enhancing intelligence, dreams, mind-control, artificial intelligence, the mind transcending the framework of the body, and possibilities of an alien mind. Wherever possible, Kaku uses his intimate knowledge of physics to lend credence to his speculations about the future of the mind.

Kaku does not try to be overtly humorous, but his prose always seems to be just "on the verge" of subtle humor. Since this book is about "the future", Kaku peppers his chapters with references to science fiction books and movies. This book should really appeal to science fiction fans, and to anyone interested in understanding what the near and distant future holds for evolution of the mind. ...more
5

Jan 31, 2014

The future of human mind and artificial intelligence

In this book, City University of New York Professor Michio Kaku, a well-respected theoretical physicist has discussed our current understanding of human mind and consciousness, and where it is heading in the next few decades. He has followed his life-long interest in biology of mind in this exhaustive literature work after his discussion with leading neurobiologists. Despite the fact that his field of expertise lies in theoretical physics, this The future of human mind and artificial intelligence

In this book, City University of New York Professor Michio Kaku, a well-respected theoretical physicist has discussed our current understanding of human mind and consciousness, and where it is heading in the next few decades. He has followed his life-long interest in biology of mind in this exhaustive literature work after his discussion with leading neurobiologists. Despite the fact that his field of expertise lies in theoretical physics, this book is written with scientific accuracy and solid understanding of the subject.

Using MRI scans, biologists can now read thoughts of our brains; a totally paralyzed patient with a microchip inserted into the patient's brain can literally do anything a normal person could do via a computer. In the first part of the book, the author defines consciousness and the various types of consciousness that exists in this world. The second part of the book looks at computers that record electrical signals emanating from brain and decode them into familiar digital language. Thus brain and computer can be directly interfaced (brain-machine interface) to control any object around it. The author discusses with examples to illustrate how new technology has helped scientists to record memories, mind reading, videotaping our dreams and telekinetically control objects around us (mind controlling matter), and perhaps enhance our intelligence. In the third part, the author introduces us into alternate forms of consciousness, observed in dreams; drug-induced state; mental illness; and non-human consciousness of robots and aliens. There is an interesting section (appendix) that summarizes quantum consciousness and describes how consciousness and the laws of physics overlap to make physical reality a coherent whole. This is one of the best sections of the book I have read where the author shares his expertize as a theoretical physicist. This part is lucidly written and I enjoyed reading it.

According to the author, consciousness is a process of creating a model of the world using multiple feedback loops in various parameters (spacetime, temperature, pressure and in relation to others) to find friends, food, shelter, and other survival necessities. Level 0 consciousness that exist among plants which doesn't have nervous structure but responds to heat, light and pressure. Level-1 consciousness exists at the lower side of evolution where the central nervous system is primitive (brain structure: brain stem) and reacts only in space but not time (no sense of past or future). Level-2 consciousness that exists among mammalian systems where the nervous system is evolved (brain structure: limbic system) which has a well-defined social structure. Level-3 consciousness exists only in humans where the brain structures consists of prefrontal cortex, and operate in space and time, especially future: Feedback loops evaluate the past and simulate the future. It follows from this that self-awareness is creating a model of the world and simulating the future in which you appear.

Another sticky question that is addressed while discussing reality is the concept of free will, does it really exist. The author concludes that it may exist but not the way we think; that we are the masters of our fate. The brain influenced by unconscious factors that predisposes us to make certain choices ahead of time even if we think we made the decision ourselves. The end of the fate is not written yet because the effects of quantum reality and chaos theory preclude strict determinism.

I have rated this book five stars since it reads flawlessly. Highly recommended to anyone interested in the future of mind and how artificial intelligence will control our destiny.
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1

Mar 13, 2014

I can't abide futurism. The best science fiction postulates an imaginary future society with imaginary future technologies and explores the present through a fantastical lens. Futurism, on the other hand, postulates that imaginary future because "why not?".

Futurism is little more than making extravagant predictions while hand-waving away the very real technical issues that stand between the present and that predicted future. In my field of computer programming, we often tell stories of "the I can't abide futurism. The best science fiction postulates an imaginary future society with imaginary future technologies and explores the present through a fantastical lens. Futurism, on the other hand, postulates that imaginary future because "why not?".

Futurism is little more than making extravagant predictions while hand-waving away the very real technical issues that stand between the present and that predicted future. In my field of computer programming, we often tell stories of "the sufficiently advanced compiler": a theoretically-possible program that be able to understand what we mean when we write computer programs and not just what we say and will use that understanding to rewrite programs to be faster and more correct than we could ever manage on our own.

It should be needless to say that this sufficiently advanced compiler does not really exist, even though the only thing standing in its way is sufficiently clever engineering. It turns out that sufficiently clever engineering is really hard.

Similarly, futurism pretends that all of their fantastical technical advances are just a matter of that same kind of sufficiently clever engineering. "This is theoretically possible, therefore we're guaranteed to figure it out, and I don't need to worry about the how because it's just engineering." is the song of the futurist -- and once they've established that one or two fantastic technologies are inevitable they can pile advancement on top of advancement on it until you end up with future predictions that are barely distinguished from fairy tales.

It is, or (at least) should be, obvious that this book is a work of futurism. It has the word "future" in the title and everything. But, I'd hoped that Dr. Kaku's experiences with actual physics would drive him to ground the work in the reasonable if not the possible.

Unfortunately, Dr. Kaku is extremely excitable. Excitability certainly has its place in science. I like my popular scientists to exude a sense of and wonder, but I'm also pleased when they can barely keep themselves from jumping up and down because science is just so cool. Unfortunately, Kaku quickly moves from excitement to breathlessness as moves without pause from wonder to wonder that neuroscience is making possible.

Well, might make possible.

Well, might show is theoretically possible.

One day.

It's an engineering problem. Let's assume it's real and see what happens next.

And so on and so forth.

At one level, it's exhausting. He never slows down to let you marvel at the mysteries of the brain or the Herculean efforts that researchers are making in order to unlock them. At another level, it's extremely frustrating as he completely sacrifices the near-term in favor of looking centuries ahead. By focusing solely on the far-future potential (beaming consciousness around the solar system? Really?), he's giving short-shrift to the work-a-day scientists who are relentlessly plugging away at the enigmas that are in front of them today.

But then again, I suppose: what should I expect from a theoretical physicist?

Dr. Kaku's prowess as a theoretical physicist may also lead into the second most problematic part of this book (aside from my distaste for futurism in general): "I'm not an expert in this, but...".

The most glaring example of this is when Kaku admits that he does't know what he's talking about but decides to try to define "consciousness" anyway. That's the entire second chapter of the book, "Consciousness - A Physicist's Viewpoint". Instead of being embarrassed about trying to define something that the actual experts in the field have struggled with, he instead builds large portions of the book on top of this scaffolding.

Indeed, he seems quite proud of his definition. He gives it a name, "the space-time theory of consciousness" and refers to it by name again and again. I have my doubts about his theory of consciousness.

I don't think it's entirely wrong, but I also don't think it's entirely useful. I was also put off by the way he pokes fun at the homunculus argument (which more-or-less posits that there's a "little person" in the brain driving our bodies) and then almost immediately names an imaginary "CEO" as the consciousness in his definition. I've read the entire book and I can't really tell you the difference between Kaku's CEO and the discredited homunculus.

If all you're going to do is reduce the idea down to an ineffable "CEO", what's the point? And how can you build so much of your book on this topic?

Finally, Dr. Kaku's insistence that so many wonderful things ("reverse-engineering the brain", making full brain copies, beaming our consciousness to the stars on beams of light, controlling robots with our brain as if they were our bodies, etc.) are only a century out (two centuries out at most) seems perfectly analogous to the claims that useful fusion reactors are only fifty years away -- claims that have been made continuously for over fifty years.

A scientist's skepticism should require him to justify these claims with far more than he even attempts.

Ultimately, I found this book extremely unsatisfying. The interesting work being done today would make a fascinating book, but Kaku races past them to instead dive into limp science fiction which offers neither the technical rigor of the best "hard" sci-fi nor the reflection of our own society offered by "soft" sci-fi.

I can only recommend it as a reminder to not read non-fiction books with the word "future" in the title. They rarely go well. ...more
4

Dec 19, 2013

For so many many centuries, the universe and consciousness have been two of the greatest mysteries for many philosophers and scientists. Interestingly, physicists like Francis Crick and Christof Koch among many others have engaged to this fascinating area of research. In "Future of the Mind" Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist, also approaches this subject. What is consciousness? Is it possible to be explained by the laws of Physics? and, with such an advance in technology, what can we expect For so many many centuries, the universe and consciousness have been two of the greatest mysteries for many philosophers and scientists. Interestingly, physicists like Francis Crick and Christof Koch among many others have engaged to this fascinating area of research. In "Future of the Mind" Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist, also approaches this subject. What is consciousness? Is it possible to be explained by the laws of Physics? and, with such an advance in technology, what can we expect of this topic on the future?

The book is divided in three major parts: Book I (The Mind and the Consciousness), Book II (Mind Over Matter) and Book III (Altered Consciousness) and I will mention a few thoughts on some topics of each book.

Book I
As in many books that approach this complex and fascinating subject of neuroscience, "The future of the mind" introduces the reader with basic generalizations of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology. Also, some background history beginning with the famous Phineas Gage case that led to the understanding of the important role that the frontal lobe plays on behavior, also the study of Wernicke and Broca's patients to understand language, Joseph Gall's pseudoscience of phrenology and Dr. Penfield's homunculus which is a generalized map of the motor cortex we still find useful today in medical texts. These cases are important because they mark the beginning of the era of Neuroscience. Honestly, I would have loved a bigger chapter that included more neuroscientists such as the Nobel laureate Ramon Ramon y Cajal's work on neurons or the first psychiatrist Dr Meynert, who was Freuds professor at School of Medicine in Vienna leading to one of the most important theories of the mind we've had and which the author does not discuss.

Kaku also introduces the reader to the evolutionary history of the brain (reptilian--> mammalian--> human), being the neocortex our highest evolutionary structure involved in higher cognitive functioning. The introductory information given is very accurate but very generalized and you can easily find it in many books related to neuroscience.

So, where are we standing today in neuroscience? How are we able to understand how our brain works and what are we still missing? The many useful high technology devices that have been created to understand our brain are thanks to the four forces that govern our universe, some of this machines are: MRI, fMRI, DBS and optogenetics, all of these based on the electromagnetic force except PET scans which is governed by the weak force. It is worth noting that as new technological devices are invented so the analogies regarding our brain functioning, such as the hydraulic model, the telephone model and now the computational theory of the mind.The author does not leave behind and also creates an analogy of subconscious as the CEO obviously representing the prefrontal cortex... Our rational thought, the area that plans and helps you take decisions.

Although Kaku doesnt talk about Freuds Theory of Mind, what i did find interesting was his "space-time theory of consciousness" defined as:

"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)."
According to this idea animals create their goal based more on environment and space and humans base more this model on relation with time.
He gives this theory three levels of consciousness, which mostly applies to the evolutionary structures of our brain. Level I will be that of the reptiles and level II which includes the limbic system essential for relations will be that of mammalian brain. Finally, level III that of the human brain defined as the following:

"Human consciousness is a specific form of consciousness that creates a model of the world and the simulates in time, by evaluating the past to simulate the future. This requires mediating and evaluating many feedback loops in order to make a depiction to achieve a goal."

Based on this definition, we use our model or view of the world by analyzing previous experiences and memories of people or events and use all this to predict the future and therefore make the decisions we would consider appropriate for a favorable outcome. If this space-time theory is accurate, Kaku says that it can give us a definition of self awareness:

"Self awareness is creating a model of the world and simulating the future in which you appear"

Book II. In Mind over Matter, Kaku approaches Telepathy, Telekinesis, Memory and Intelligence.
On memory: What do you think of the idea of downloading a memory or perhaps learning a new complex skills (Matrix style) and molding our intelligence with new software? The possibility to create or experience new memories, or sharing it just as we upload our pictures through the web, live a new trip or love experiences, or the memories of loved ones already passed away, will that lead us to lose the difference from our innate self and fake memories??? Would this ever be possible? I do think of the amazing possibilities it could bring for patients suffering from amnesia or also it's exciting to know the use of optogenetics to activate or shut down memories such as in PTSD patients. What has the function of memory provided in our evolutionary process and why are they so important to us? That is of the ability to predict the future and act and take decisions according to these experiences,This is the essential reason of why humans are intelligent.
I also applaud Kaku approaching the prion like proteins topic involved in Alzheimer's (tau amyloid proteins) and the CREB genes role in memory formation... quite accurate but I insist, this is another topic which I would have loved he expanded more with detailed information. Sometimes, it did seemed like reading a special-edition science magazine.

Book III. Altered Consciousness: Dreams, mind-control, artificial intelligence, altered states of consciousness, reverse engineering in the brain and the alien brain.
On the chapter Altered state of consciousness, which I really enjoyed, Kaku approaches OCD, Schizophrenia and Hallucinations with the sufficient neuroscience behind each disorder and talks about where are we placed right now regarding management and the possibilities of how science will approach them in the future. Once again, he gives us a definition of most forms of mental illness based on his space-time theory of consciousness:

"Mental illness is largely caused by the disruption of the delicate checks and balances between competing feedback loops that simulate the future (usually because one region of the brain is o reactive or under-active)"

Some hospital today make use of DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation), a small probe inserted into a brain and applying electro shocks like a pacemaker, many disorders like depression, Parkinson's and epilepsy or even comma patients are being treated. So far DBS and pharmacotherapy, have been the best way to manage these cases but not the optimal state, sometimes only to ameliorate symptoms. Molecular reductionist approach has also helped understand the neurobiochemistry of many disorders and the main target that can guide new and more specific treatments. Now, the BRAIN initiative is expected to complete a detailed map of the brain at neural level with the possibility to understand the exact pathophisiology behind disorders like Alzheimer, Parkinson's, dementia or bipolar disorders and hopefully, the upcoming technology can give us a better approach to help many of these patients in a successful way. Could you imagine the possibility of a paralyzed patient to move thanks to the use of a microchip inserted to his brain?

In summary, the information given by Michio Kaku is accurate and I could probably stop at every topic and discuss many thoughts i have in mind related to neuroscience, from evolution to artificial intelligence, but i should leave you with something to read by yourself. His space-time theory of consciousness is good and useful and he tries to demonstrate its application throughout the book. Also, Kaku uses many analogies and examples with books and movies including Star Trek, Star Wars or Planet of the apes, A space odyssey 2001 and many other fictional characters to place the reader on the topic and it was quite funny to see his geek side, especially if you like them. So, what can we expect in the near future regarding treatments and technology? Is there really alien intelligence out there? Is it possible that Artificial Intelligence could ever develop consciousness and take decisions for us like Hal 9000? Would we continue evolving and give a big step towards the next Homo evolutis or Star Child or have we reached our limitations?

Read the book and allow your mind imagine all the possibilities that science could give our human race in the future!

A fantastic Voyage!


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3

Jan 23, 2014

I haven't finished it yet, but I don't need to finish this one to write the review.

It's a nice summary of the state of knowledge about the human brain... how it works, how technology is being used to learn more about it and how technology is being used to fix it/control it.

The level of technical skill needed to read this book is on a par with any of the popular science shows on the Discovery Channel. That's not a complaint; I like the 30,000 foot view it provides.

But the constant surface I haven't finished it yet, but I don't need to finish this one to write the review.

It's a nice summary of the state of knowledge about the human brain... how it works, how technology is being used to learn more about it and how technology is being used to fix it/control it.

The level of technical skill needed to read this book is on a par with any of the popular science shows on the Discovery Channel. That's not a complaint; I like the 30,000 foot view it provides.

But the constant surface treatment is a bit monotonic. I thoroughly enjoy hearing Professor Kaku on any program I find him... but the constant stream of summary level info doesn't satiate me. There is a large percentage of commentary about developments which may follow, or ethical conundrums which may present... and no real in-depth discussion of ethical conundrums which already exist.

It's a broad category, and I really am enjoying the trip. I do wish there were more _Nature_ and less _Scientific American_.

=============================
Update, after completing the book.

I don't withdraw the earlier criticism. It continued to pall, hearing "this may happen" over and over.

There were also a couple of places where his logic baffled me a bit. Perhaps it's the reader's stupidity in this case... The passage on encoding consciousness on a laser beam referred to transmission stations on the moon and planets, and the physics of it just didn't make sense to me.

Anyhow, it was a diverting read. I'm not sorry I picked it up, and would recommend it to any layman interested in the brain. Just don't be swayed by the celebrity of its author into expecting something deep. ...more
3

Mar 07, 2019

It seems that the one characteristic most closely correlated with success in life, which has persisted over the decades, is the ability to delay gratification.

Vanilla Sky, anyone? Kaku did a great job tying modern culture into the book, from robots and Skynet, to hard science.

However ... more than half the book was filled with "maybe this could happen," "this might be possible," and "one day, if ..."which really got old fast.

Yes, I should have known better from the title, *The Future of the “It seems that the one characteristic most closely correlated with success in life, which has persisted over the decades, is the ability to delay gratification.”

Vanilla Sky, anyone? Kaku did a great job tying modern culture into the book, from robots and Skynet, to hard science.

However ... more than half the book was filled with "maybe this could happen," "this might be possible," and "one day, if ..."—which really got old fast.

Yes, I should have known better from the title, *The Future of the Mind.*
Personally, I'm not a big fan of excessive future-casting, and "what if's," I suppose I should have known better.

Still, lots of interesting tidbits: full RTC. ...more
3

Dec 06, 2016

Interesting, but I have to say I enjoyed Kaku's The Future of Humanity a lot more. This wasn't quite as engaging.
4

Nov 13, 2013

Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist with a love of science fiction and of explaining science to non-scientists as well as of physics, once again takes a big, broad subject area that people are fascinated by, and explores what we know and can do now, what we can expect in the near future, and what the next century or two might bring us.

This is a readable, fascinating introduction to what we know about the workings of the human brain, and how the mind emerges from it, as well as the current state Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist with a love of science fiction and of explaining science to non-scientists as well as of physics, once again takes a big, broad subject area that people are fascinated by, and explores what we know and can do now, what we can expect in the near future, and what the next century or two might bring us.

This is a readable, fascinating introduction to what we know about the workings of the human brain, and how the mind emerges from it, as well as the current state and realistic prospects for artificial intelligence.

In recent decades we have learned, with new tools many of which emerge from physics, startling details about the deep structure of the brain, what parts correspond to which abilities and behaviors, and how memory is constructed and stored. As we understand more about how our brains and minds really work, the problems of artificial intelligence become clearer. Past periods of optimism about AI were founded largely in a lack of understanding of the complexities involved. Now we have a much greater understanding of what intelligence and consciousness are, and a more realistic prospect of creating the computing power we need to replicate it--in the future. That capacity doesn't exist yet, and we are in the early stages of creating robots with minimal "intelligence" and learning ability. The breakthroughs we've made are exciting, though, and the prospects even more so.

As our ability to create intelligent machines increases, what will the implications be? Will our machines be our children, or will they be a threat to us? Will we use mechanical surrogates controlled by our own minds to explore distant worlds? Will we achieve immortality through replacement robotic bodies? Will we live our lives wholly inside a computer-generated environment?

Kaku also considers the question of intelligent alien life. Why haven't we heard from them? What will happen when we do find intelligent aliens? Aliens advanced enough to make traveling from their worlds to ours would not be just a few centuries ahead of us, technologically; they would be thousands of years ahead of us. Would they even notice us, or would the biggest danger we face from them be the danger the deer face from the developer--having our environment developed into uninhabitability, not out of malice but because we're not important enough to notice.

This is an entertaining, educational, and stimulating book. Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley. ...more
1

Apr 23, 2014

Interesting intro to neuroscience for the casual reader. If you're looking for depth and analysis, this is not the book for you. I belong to the latter category, and for me, the shallowness makes it an incredibly frustrating read.

Don't get me wrong. I like Michio Kaku. He's a very charismatic speaker. But I just don't like to waste my time on magazine-level introductory knowledge.
4

Mar 08, 2014

Each Michio Kaku book challenges the limits of my understanding by slowly taking me to the edge of what I know and then pushing me over the precipice. His books always seem to start out slowly by getting me comfortable with what I already know. Next, he pulls the rug out and Im happily trying to figure out which way is up.

The types of things that scientists are working on today make me sad that I probably wont be around to benefit from them. Some of these mind things as well as robotics are Each Michio Kaku book challenges the limits of my understanding by slowly taking me to the edge of what I know and then pushing me over the precipice. His books always seem to start out slowly by getting me comfortable with what I already know. Next, he pulls the rug out and I’m happily trying to figure out which way is up.

The types of things that scientists are working on today make me sad that I probably won’t be around to benefit from them. Some of these “mind” things as well as robotics are going to give humans abilities we only dream of today. However, they will come with a price. Eventually, completely new fields of expertise in bioethics will have to be developed in conjunction with the legal community to handle the gray areas we will soon have the capability to move into.

So much to contemplate, so much wonder, so much awe, so many possibilities. I don’t know whether to be excited for humanity or scared.
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3

Feb 26, 2014

Physicist Michio Kaku, an expert in string theory, might not seem the obvious person to take us on a tour of what the subtitle describes as the scientific quest to understand, enhance and empower the mind. But Kaku is a very experienced science communicator and though I didnt feel the same deep connection with, and love for, his subject as comes across in his physics-based books, there is certainly a lot to ponder in this reasonably chunky bit of scientific futurology.

Of all the great science Physicist Michio Kaku, an expert in string theory, might not seem the obvious person to take us on a tour of what the subtitle describes as ‘the scientific quest to understand, enhance and empower the mind.’ But Kaku is a very experienced science communicator and though I didn’t feel the same deep connection with, and love for, his subject as comes across in his physics-based books, there is certainly a lot to ponder in this reasonably chunky bit of scientific futurology.

Of all the great science popularisers – and I don’t hesitate to put him in that bracket – Kaku is the most deeply immersed in the science fiction tradition. For every example of a scientific idea he has a story to put it into context, which if you like SF, as I do, is a great asset. The only slight problem this makes for is that when Kaku extrapolates a piece of current technology into the future he tends to oversimplify the problems and goes far too far. So, for instance, an experiment where monkeys are led to feel the sense of touch from a remote sensor leads us to Kaku prompting an interviewee to say ‘I think this is the first demonstration that something like the [Star Trek, the Next Generation] holodeck will be possible in the near future.’ This is almost the definition of hyperbole. My suspicion is that physicists make better science fiction writers than futurologists.

Throughout the book we visit different aspects of the brain and the mind and how they might in the future be enhanced. This often involves finding out more about current brain conditions and injuries, as these have frequently resulted in discovering more about the workings of this most remarkable organ. Kaku quotes a mind-boggling example of a patient with a split brain. Without the usual connection of the corpus callosum, the left and right sides of the brain can hold different opinions and have different feelings. We hear of a patient whose left brain was atheist and right brain was a religious believer – a quite remarkable state of affairs. The ‘learning through damage and illness’ bit is necessary, but after a while, hearing about all these failings of the brain does get a little wearing.

Along the way we experience mind-to-mind communication, mind controlling machines, intelligence enhancement (though strangely with hardly any overlap with Smarter), artificial intelligence, disembodied minds and more. There’s a lot of good material here, but somehow I found reading it a little too much like hard work, rather than the feast of ideas we often get in one of Kaku’s books. Interesting, but not one of his best. ...more
5

Feb 15, 2014

Knowledge and education is everything in life!!!! This is one fantastic book. "The Future of the Mind" by Michio Kaku introduces inquisitive readers to the exciting science of the human mind. Dr. Kaku is perhaps the preeminent popular scientist of our time with numerous books, television productions and media appearances to his credit. This fascinating book will interest everyone who wants to get up to speed on the rapidly evolving field of brain sciences including what the future might hold for Knowledge and education is everything in life!!!! This is one fantastic book. "The Future of the Mind" by Michio Kaku introduces inquisitive readers to the exciting science of the human mind. Dr. Kaku is perhaps the preeminent popular scientist of our time with numerous books, television productions and media appearances to his credit. This fascinating book will interest everyone who wants to get up to speed on the rapidly evolving field of brain sciences including what the future might hold for humanity.

The book is divided into three sections. `Book I: The Mind and Consciousness' is a brief survey of brain research up to the present day including an overview of how the brain works. `Book II: Mind Over Matter' discusses how science is shedding new light on telepathy, telekinesis, memories and the possibility of enhancing the brain's powers. `Book III: Altered Consciousness' speculates about how humanity's mastery of brain sciences might radically change our destiny on earth and beyond, including allowing us to reach across the universe with our minds.

Of course, Dr. Kaku carefully weighs the myriad ethical issues that inevitably come up when scientists talk about tinkering with the human brain. For example, when discussing the possibility of improving human intelligence, Dr. Kaku points to the benefits of enabling workers to rapidly learn new job skills but also warns about the social disparity that might ensue if such powerful technology is distributed only to the few. More than anything else, Dr. Kaku shares his vision and enthusiasm for where science can lead us. Through his demonstrated command of the subject matter, we become excited not only about the shorter-term promise of discovering more effective treatments for mental illnesses; but also about the longer-term possibility of exploring distant stars using our minds. The end result is a highly engaging book that rewards us with its keen intelligence, compassion and sense of wonder.

I highly recommend this outstanding book to everyone. I LOVED it!!!!!! ...more
5

Feb 20, 2019

Excellent book about what the brain is, how it works and how we can enhance/repair it.
1

May 04, 2014

Very disappointing. This book is billed as scientific but is simply science fiction nonsense. The book starts out well enough with a review of the current types of brain scans and some commentary of potential future enhancements to these technologies. Then the author launches into wild speculation about telepathy and telekinesis and how these may be possible in the "very near future." Since my only interest in the brain is of a purely scientific and practical bent, these speculations were of Very disappointing. This book is billed as scientific but is simply science fiction nonsense. The book starts out well enough with a review of the current types of brain scans and some commentary of potential future enhancements to these technologies. Then the author launches into wild speculation about telepathy and telekinesis and how these may be possible in the "very near future." Since my only interest in the brain is of a purely scientific and practical bent, these speculations were of zero interest to me and I gave up. ...more
5

May 23, 2014

The Future of the Mind
5 Stars - Exciting read, filled with interesting facts and mind boggling ideas. Great read for a wide range of those interested in the future of science and the brain!

What a fun read this was! Not often do books make me want to hide away from the world, until I can finish it in one read. While working my way through this one, I never did want to put it down, except when coming across an experiment that Michio Kaku touched upon, that I wanted to jump further into online.

On The Future of the Mind
5 Stars - Exciting read, filled with interesting facts and mind boggling ideas. Great read for a wide range of those interested in the future of science and the brain!

What a fun read this was! Not often do books make me want to hide away from the world, until I can finish it in one read. While working my way through this one, I never did want to put it down, except when coming across an experiment that Michio Kaku touched upon, that I wanted to jump further into online.

On that note, the only downside to the book was that so many fun topics were reviewed, that it was necessary to check out some further online or in other books. Michio goes over such a vast range of new experiments and work being done globally, the depth was not there on some topics. However this is to be expected when covering many multiple topics. Michio does well by leaving a suggested reading section, as well as notes as to where to further review many of the topics in full. It was a wise choice of Mr. Kaku to see the one fault with the book (which was inevitable) and leave an answer for it.

I really enjoyed how there was the ties with real life projects and experiments, in the way of bringing in movies and books such as Star Trek, Terminator and the Matrix. It really made it easier to make this a fun read, vs an overly dry factual book.

I like how Michio went and spoke with the folks running these new projects into the brain, instead of just giving the facts on them. Some of the most interesting parts of the book were the comments some of the folks managing the projects had made when questioned.

The background history to how some of the projects of today, came into existence, or how the future of some inventions will truly change our world, made this a fun and informative book, filled with tie ins to books like Carrie or to the famous Jedi Knights.

Its a great book for sci-fi lovers, as well as those looking to see what's in store for humans over the next few years. The insight into projects that the heads of the world today, are putting money into, is very informative.

Not much further to say, the book itself hits many new projects involved with the human mind, as well as the future and direction of science studies dedicated to making us healthier, smarter, and enhancing us further in all aspects of life. It ties in movies and books and fun facts with futuristic ideas. It gives a good and bad side to how some of the projects can be abused and the morality behind the reasoning, with references to how some projects can be abused by the military.

I am looking forward to snagging up a few more of his books, it really made science extremely fun and fascinating. I think he absolutely hits the mark between teaching facts and keeping the readers attention.

"...the more I learn about the sheer complexity of the brain, the more amazed I am that something that sits on our shoulders is the most sophisticated object we know about in the universe." - pg. 327

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5

May 27, 2016

An astonishing amount of information crammed into the confines of a 377-page book. Kaku's presentation is effortless and very accessible, like one of his numerous youtube videos.You just cannot help getting infected with his enthusiasm about the science he presents - the science which sheds new light on deemed-esoteric-forever concepts like telepathy, telekinesis and mind reading and that which is on the cusp of performing tasks like memory implants, memory recording, dream videotaping, mental An astonishing amount of information crammed into the confines of a 377-page book. Kaku's presentation is effortless and very accessible, like one of his numerous youtube videos.You just cannot help getting infected with his enthusiasm about the science he presents - the science which sheds new light on deemed-esoteric-forever concepts like telepathy, telekinesis and mind reading and that which is on the cusp of performing tasks like memory implants, memory recording, dream videotaping, mental espionage and numerous others.

He not only describes the ways scientists design and do these experiments, but also dexterously points to precursors in sci-fi books and movies.The concepts behind atleast 25-30 movies were explained in considerable detail , which for a not-so-avid movie watcher like me felt like a bonanza.Another wonderful aspect of the book is how he theorizes and weighs the numerous ethical issues that should creep up once such brain tinkerings are perfected and become common practice.

A highly informative and feel-good book. Hoping to read his other ones. ...more
3

Jan 11, 2018

I've been drawn to the sciences recently and I'd have to say neuroscience is the most fascinating of them all. The book may be geared down slightly too much for layman, though. I'm admittedly no scientist. I find it hard to follow certain recipes or build IKEA furniture. But I did find myself getting anxious throughout the book, peaking ahead, hoping Mr. Kaku would speed things up a bit.

Not only does the science feel watered down at times, but the effect is heightened with the author (maybe the

I've been drawn to the sciences recently and I'd have to say neuroscience is the most fascinating of them all. The book may be geared down slightly too much for layman, though. I'm admittedly no scientist. I find it hard to follow certain recipes or build IKEA furniture. But I did find myself getting anxious throughout the book, peaking ahead, hoping Mr. Kaku would speed things up a bit.

Not only does the science feel watered down at times, but the effect is heightened with the author (maybe the editor or publisher's fault) attempting to cater to more of a pop culture crowd. Sometimes its hard not to imagine the Mr. Kaku writing this in the basement of his parents house, friends are over drinking cream soda and discussing if such-and-such from Star Trek or The Matrix or whatever is actually possible.

For all the shit i'm talking, I enjoyed the read. The last chapter is pretty wild, too. It introduces quantum theory and applies the mechanics to the function of the brain's neurons. That really got the old bean throbbing and I had trouble sleeping that night.

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4

May 20, 2014

Fairly interesting science book about the future technologies that will soon come online to enhance our brains from cybernetic implants, to bionic technology, to downloading memories and uploading our minds. The book starts with an outline of neuro-anatomy and then shows the kinds of interventions and enhancements that may soon be coming to a brain near you. A fun book with a lot of to think about. The possibilities for use and abuse of these technology is something we may have to grapple with Fairly interesting science book about the future technologies that will soon come online to enhance our brains from cybernetic implants, to bionic technology, to downloading memories and uploading our minds. The book starts with an outline of neuro-anatomy and then shows the kinds of interventions and enhancements that may soon be coming to a brain near you. A fun book with a lot of to think about. The possibilities for use and abuse of these technology is something we may have to grapple with in the near future. A nice heads up for the reader on the future of these technologies. ...more
5

Nov 10, 2016

Who am I? Is reality really real? What are dreams? Will someone who's paralyzed be able to move objects with their mind one day ? Will robots be smarter than humans? Will robots one day take over the world? Interviewing top scientists in their fields, Michio Kaku explores these questions and many more in The Future of the Mind.

Kakus ability to explain complex concepts, in easy to understand terms and examples, makes this an easy and enjoyable read. His passion for the topic comes through in his Who am “I”? Is reality really real? What are dreams? Will someone who's paralyzed be able to move objects with their mind one day ? Will robots be smarter than humans? Will robots one day take over the world? Interviewing top scientists in their fields, Michio Kaku explores these questions and many more in The Future of the Mind.

Kaku’s ability to explain complex concepts, in easy to understand terms and examples, makes this an easy and enjoyable read. His passion for the topic comes through in his writing and really pulls you in. If you are interested in how the mind works and where neuroscience is heading, then you definitely want to read this book. ...more
4

Feb 17, 2014

Science, sci-fi or fantasy?

As a theoretical physicist, Michio Kaku may not be the obvious choice to tackle the subject of the science of the brain, but he undoubtedly has a gift for writing about complex subjects in an accessible way. In this book he looks at the history of neuroscience, where we are now, and then spends a huge chunk of the book speculating about where the scientists may take us in the future.

He starts by describing the physical properties of the brain, explaining how over the Science, sci-fi or fantasy?

As a theoretical physicist, Michio Kaku may not be the obvious choice to tackle the subject of the science of the brain, but he undoubtedly has a gift for writing about complex subjects in an accessible way. In this book he looks at the history of neuroscience, where we are now, and then spends a huge chunk of the book speculating about where the scientists may take us in the future.

He starts by describing the physical properties of the brain, explaining how over the last century or so scientists have discovered how the various parts interact with each other. He speculates in an informed way as to why the human brain should have evolved as it has, and defines the main difference between humans and other species as our ability to consider possible futures as a way to inform our decisions.

“I call this the “space-time theory of consciousness,” because it emphasizes the idea that animals create a model of the world mainly in relation to space, and to one another, while humans go beyond and create a model of the world in relation to time, both forward and backward.”

He then looks at some of the experimentation that is currently taking place, with major pushes from both the EU and the US to discover possible treatments for the growing problem of dementia caused by our ageing populations, together with other kinds of mental illness, which he suggests quite firmly are in the main caused by physical factors.

So far, so good. His writing style and enthusiasm for the subject make for an interesting and informative read, though his descriptions of much of the animal experimentation that is going on also left me feeling uncomfortable and conflicted. Although he continually emphasises the aim of treatment for illnesses and brings up the subject of ethics repeatedly, it seemed fairly clear that many of the scientists, Kaku included, are really interested in knowledge for knowledge sake, and don’t always have strong personal ethical constraints in how they pursue it. Frankenstein, it appears, is alive and well, and is being heavily subsidised by our governments. Let us hope he is also being subjected to close scrutiny…although, as Kaku makes clear, much of the research is going on in the name of ‘defence’ – never a field noted for its sensitivity and humanity.

"Dr Nicolelis starts by connecting the motor cortex of rhesus monkeys to mechanical arms. These mechanical arms have sensors on them, which then send signals back to the brain by electrodes connected to the somatosensory cortex (which registers the sense of touch). The monkeys were given a reward after every successful trial; they learned how to use the apparatus within four to nine trials."

But what Kaku seems really interested in is the future, and here he goes into so much wild speculation that I found my credulity creaking at the seams. For a start, every speculation he comes up with seems to have its roots in an episode of Star Trek, which he mentions repeatedly throughout. Like him, I have a love for the series – unlike him, I don’t believe it’s a blueprint for the future. He moves rapidly through the remotely possible – creating a human-like robot such as, for instance, Commander Data – to inserting technology in our brains to allow us to read minds and act as one unit – à la the Borg – and on to one day uploading our consciousness into computers and living a disembodied and eternal life, possibly with holodeck-type avatars acting on our behalf. Uh-huh! (I’m guessing he’s read Frederik Pohl too.) At the point where he speculated that one day we will be able to send our consciousness out into space travelling on laser-beams and with the ability to assemble our own avatars on arrival, I was frankly chuckling. But in a horrified kind of way, because I think he actually means it. Fortunately, given that they’ve been working on robots for over half a century and so far have only achieved a not particularly effective vacuum cleaner, I feel I’m unlikely to live long enough to be forced to live forever as a computer programme. Phew!

More worrying than these far-distant speculations is the near-future idea that scientists will soon be able to ‘enhance’ our intelligence. Kaku’s rather casual view of this is that it’ll be OK if those with power and wealth are the first to have their brains enhanced, since a) they probably won’t misuse the advantage this confers (uh-huh! Though the idea of intelligent politicians is a novel and rather appealing idea, I admit…); and b) eventually, as with all things, the technology will soon become available to everyone. He bases this on things like medicine and computers gradually becoming available to all – I wondered if he was unaware or just didn’t care that, in fact, at least a fifth of the world’s population is still living at extreme poverty level without access to adequate health care and education – even in the rich US people still die for want of drugs that are available to the well-off. It all gave the impression that science is recklessly headed on a path without full consideration of where it may lead.

"If skills can be implanted into the brain, it would have an immediate impact on the world economic system, since we wouldn’t have to waste so much human capital. (To some degree, the value of a certain skill may be devalued if memories can be uploaded into anyone, but this is compensated for by the fact that the number and quality of skilled workers vastly increase.)"

Overall, I found the first half of the book interesting in knowing where the science stands at present, and in reminding me of the need to ensure that scientists are kept firmly under control. The speculative second-half was enjoyable but failed to convince me that most of it was more than the fantasy of sci-fi scriptwriters. And I’m rather glad about that, since it seems that Kaku and his fellow scientists are much more willing to consider the benefits of creating monsters than I am. An entertaining read, but not a wholly convincing one.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Penguin Books.

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3

Mar 04, 2019

Seemed to be quite a bit of speculation, interesting but felt it could have been shorter.
5

Mar 02, 2014

Ouch. Ouch. My brain really hurts. Everything you wanted to know about the brain but were afraid to ask.

Surprisingly, this is immensely readable and entertaining. I was expecting a larger-than-life tome that cranked out gibberish; that is, gibberish for folks like me who, albeit fascinated with this world, find it hard to walk and talk at the same time.

I was entranced by the author's readability and his tantalizing offerings on the potential of the human brain. The future is not "someday". It is Ouch. Ouch. My brain really hurts. Everything you wanted to know about the brain but were afraid to ask.

Surprisingly, this is immensely readable and entertaining. I was expecting a larger-than-life tome that cranked out gibberish; that is, gibberish for folks like me who, albeit fascinated with this world, find it hard to walk and talk at the same time.

I was entranced by the author's readability and his tantalizing offerings on the potential of the human brain. The future is not "someday". It is now, and we are on the cusp of fascinating changes, all powered by the biggest, baddest computer ever known: our brain.

Amazing read for anyone wondering "where the future is at"! ...more
4

Mar 11, 2014

*A full executive summary of this book is available here: http://newbooksinbrief.com/2014/03/11...

The main argument: Up until 15 to 20 years ago the instruments and methods used to study the brain were still somewhat primitive. Since this time, however, advances in brain-imaging and brain-probing technology have gone into overdriveas have the computers needed to make sense of the data coming out of these technologies. The deluge began in the early to mid 1990s with the magnetic resonance imaging *A full executive summary of this book is available here: http://newbooksinbrief.com/2014/03/11...

The main argument: Up until 15 to 20 years ago the instruments and methods used to study the brain were still somewhat primitive. Since this time, however, advances in brain-imaging and brain-probing technology have gone into overdrive—as have the computers needed to make sense of the data coming out of these technologies. The deluge began in the early to mid 1990’s with the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine, and it’s more powerful cousin the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine, and it hasn’t stopped there. In addition to the MRI and fMRI, we now have a host of advanced imaging and probing technologies from the positron emission topography (PET) scan, to magnetoencephalography (MEG), to near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), to optogenetics, to the Clarity technique, to the transcranial electromagnetic scanner (TES), to deep brain stimulation (DBS) and more. In addition to these new imaging and probing technologies we have also advanced greatly in understanding how genes are expressed in the brain.

The result of these new advances is that we have learned more about the brain and how it works in the past 15 years than in all of history put together. And we are beginning to see real-world applications of this new understanding. For example, in the past decade scientists have learned to read the brain’s functioning to the point where they can now read (and recreate) thoughts and even dreams and imaginings directly from the brain; use the brain to directly control computers, and anything computers can control—including prosthetics (and even have these prosthetics send sensations back to the brain); implant and remove simple memories in the brain; create primitive versions of artificial brain structures; and also unravel at least some of the mysteries of mental illness and disease.

And this is just the beginning. Scientists continue to refine the scanners and probes that have recently been invented. What’s more, governments are beginning to put up real money to fund major projects designed to help solve the remaining mysteries of the mind. For example, in 2013 both the United States and the European Union announced significant funding for two ambitious projects whose ultimate goal is to give a full map, model and even simulation of the human brain. Specifically, the American government contributed over $3 billion to the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, while the European powers contributed over $1.5 billion to the Human Brain Project.

What this means is that we can look forward to a time when some of the early advancements we’ve made in understanding and manipulating the brain will reach full maturity. A time when we will interact with computers directly with our thoughts (and paraplegics will power exoskeletons directly with theirs); a time when we can share our thoughts, memories, dreams, and imaginings directly with others; a time when we can upload knowledge and skills directly into our brains; a time when we will have a full understanding of mental illness and disease—and the power to cure them.

And not only does the future of neuroscience promise these great feats, it also promises to help us develop the coping stone of all technologies: artificial intelligence. Indeed, while artificial intelligence has progressed in leaps and bounds in recent years, it still remains fairly limited. A big part of this has to do with the fact that we have modeled our artificial intelligence systems based on how we think the mind should work, rather than on how it actually works. With our new knowledge of how the mind does work, however, the prospect of creating AI machines with human-level intelligence becomes ever more real.

The high point of the book is that Kaku gives a very nice overview of the latest developments in neuroscience, as well as where the field is headed next. The weak point of the book is that Kaku occasionally veers way of topic, and occasionally gets carried away on wild flights of speculative fancy (to give just one example, I wasn’t expecting, and didn’t appreciate, a full chapter of speculation about what alien intelligence—if it exists—might look like). Still, the book certainly contains a lot of very interesting and valuable information about the latest in brain science, and it definitely gets the imagination going. A full executive summary of the book is available here: http://newbooksinbrief.com/2014/03/11... ...more
3

Jul 21, 2014

Every so often an author makes a stab at, "what makes humans special from all other animals". Michio Kaku does his best through defining humans through their ability to simulate the future both in space and time. He uses this definition for human consciousness and specialness and goes about explaining all phenomena arising from the brain. There's almost no topic he doesn't touch, hypnosis, outer-body-experience, abnormal psychology, BMI (brain machine interface), and so on.

For each topic, he Every so often an author makes a stab at, "what makes humans special from all other animals". Michio Kaku does his best through defining humans through their ability to simulate the future both in space and time. He uses this definition for human consciousness and specialness and goes about explaining all phenomena arising from the brain. There's almost no topic he doesn't touch, hypnosis, outer-body-experience, abnormal psychology, BMI (brain machine interface), and so on.

For each topic, he gives the history, the current state of the art and then some wild speculations about the topic. Each topic is covered widely but he doesn't have a chance to delve into in depth with the exception of the final chapter on Artificial Intelligence. He gives his all on that topic, and he even explains the Kurzweill's Singularity better than Kurzweil does.

I learned more about the right/left mind dichotomy in this book than I have from books dedicated to that topic because that kept popping up in most of the different topics he was covering. That part of the story was more interesting to me than the author's special definition of what makes humans special.

It's hard not to like an author who seems to know every episode of Star Trek or Twilight Zone and knows how to relate that to what he is writing about. If your anything like me, you probably love it when Michio Kaku appears on the Discovery Channel because he's going to give you a sound bite you will understand and can make your own.

Unfortunately, for me, the book is more sound bite than depth, but for some that will be why they like the book more than I do. ...more
4

Feb 11, 2014

The thing I like about Michio Kaku is that unlike other scientists and quantum physicists, he doesn't wander off into his own wonderland while describing some of the most complex concepts. This book is no different. Although, initially going by the title of the book, I thought that a neurologist or a biologist would be better suited author for book on Human Mind, I am glad that didn't put me off and refrain me from starting this book.

Human Consciousness, Freewill, mental illnesses, Aliens, The thing I like about Michio Kaku is that unlike other scientists and quantum physicists, he doesn't wander off into his own wonderland while describing some of the most complex concepts. This book is no different. Although, initially going by the title of the book, I thought that a neurologist or a biologist would be better suited author for book on Human Mind, I am glad that didn't put me off and refrain me from starting this book.

Human Consciousness, Freewill, mental illnesses, Aliens, Robots, AI and even Skynet (yes from the Terminator) is mentioned in this book. If you are a science lover, then this will ensure that you are always hooked on to it. This is the most fun I have had while reading a science book this year.

There are bits and pieces of theoretical physics but book for most part deals with present and future of Neuroscience research and all the mind boggling possibilities that come with it. This one is an enjoyable read. ...more

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