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The Future of the Mind and Michio Kaku

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The Future of the Mind and Michio Kaku

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Leaders in every industry must pay attention to disruptions. Professor Michio Kaku, the co-founder of string field theory and one of America’s foremost physicists, predicts disruptions in education, healthcare, psychology, criminal justice, manufacturing, and entertainment. To ensure your business survives and thrives in a coming radical transformation of the economy, you first need to know what’s on the horizon.

We recently had the rare honor to attend a lecture by Dr. Kaku (full video embedded below), who took us on a stunning tour through the near-future of understanding the brain—and the potential breakthroughs this understanding could allow us to do. These are his thoughts on disruptive technologies that all have the ability to radically transform not only business but life itself.

The human mind: a rough guide

Kaku’s newest book, The Future of the Mind, details the ways in which humanity is beginning to unlock the mysteries of the brain. The BRAIN Initiative, detailed by President Barack Obama in his 2013 State of the Union Address, is a project on par with the Human Genome Project. Where the Human Genome Project mapped every piece of human DNA, the BRAIN Initiative will map every neuron in the brain.

The functional result, Kaku explained, will be a complete understanding of both our physical existence (DNA) and our mental map (our minds). Knowing this is the first step into tapping into some of the amazing advances being made by researchers today in things like Body-Machine Interface (BMI).

We are the ghost in the shell

Scientists have already started to map—and tap into—our neural network to control simple machines. Wounded soldiers can control robotic hands and limbs. Professor Stephen Hawking uses an interface that interprets a combination of his eye movements and cheek motions, and has experimented with interfaces that allow him to speak, using thoughts, through a synthesizer.

These are the first steps into controlling robots (called surrogates) or virtual constructs (avatars) with our minds. The possibilities for this are limitless: exploring harsh environments, from the ocean floor to the vacuum of space, at a fraction of the cost of sending a person. Working in places that normal people could not work. Removing landmines without putting people at risk. The list goes on.

Altered carbon

One of the most exciting developments, according to Kaku, is the possibility that with mapping the brain’s neurons, we could “store” memories and transfer them from one mind to another. Experiments have already shown this might be possible, with scientists “implanting” stored memories in laboratory mice.

It’s a strong argument for the mind as software—which means it could be hacked, copied, and improved. It also means that a person could achieve functional immortality: if the brain could be backed up, stored, and transferred, consciousness could live forever.

Science fact

Dr. Kaku pointed out that these technologies are still years, if not decades, in the future. But the groundwork has been laid for the companies of tomorrow to begin developing this technology. You may not be able to back up your mind yet—but could your company develop the first inexpensive BMI? Tap into organic networks to store more data? Hack the mind with education classes that could be uploaded, Matrix-style? Or something that even Dr. Kaku hasn’t imagined?

Even if your business won’t invent the technologies that shape the future, there is no doubt that it will be influenced and disrupted by them. Dr. Kaku’s book and lecture is a good place to start anticipating tomorrow’s disruptions, today.

See you in the future.

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This post is part of our ongoing coverage of Microsoft Research and its Visiting Speaker Series. Microsoft Research supports its mission to educate and foster innovation and growth through inviting authors and speakers that inspire big ideas, spark new ways of doing things, or help people see things from a new perspective.

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  • Congratulations Mr. Michio Kaku with your recent endeavors. I am interested in the portable MRI.

  • Disruptions: unfortunate.

  • THIS is the BEGINNING OF REVELATION OF THE BIBILICAL PROPORIONS THAT COULD HAVE A PERSONS TOTAL INDORMATION WRITTEN ON A CHIP AND HAVE IT STORED LIKE THE MOVIE AND THAT WILL BE THE EVETUAL DOWNFALL OF MANKIND!!!

  • This is what's been on going for century so now it is out how will it be handled? Thats the ?

  • WONDERFUL!!!

  • WONDERFUL!!!

  • Can you imagine if we could transfer our memories and consciousness . We will never die. But if we do that then no one will have to treat Cancer just transfer over to another body (Avatar ) A lot of the Elites that rule the world wont allow that .

  • It won't benefit them in anyway. They have unlimited Money and they haven't came up with that already ?? Come on .

  • Where is the video ?

  • We try to follow Michio Kaku. He is our Einstein of today. We are excited about this technology. Would love to attend a lecture. I am currently reading his book called Hyperspace. So so good and informative.

  • Yeah, where's the video?

  • The potential benefits of the storage of memories as "data" like on a hard drive could change the way humanity will exist permanently. Imagine if there were no deaths because of cloning and memory transfers we could see sub scienc fiction tales launch us into space. Want to visit a star far away? Clone and transfer your memory to that system. The science is so uncharted the possibilities are staggering. Modern psychology cannot fathom what this details. How would we explain the feeling of jumpin? I guess it migh feel like you're being reborn and just click your here and now.

  • "Disruptions: unfortunate?"

    Hardly. Mankind would be stifled if it were not for change.

  • We are first and foremost biological organisms. Our thoughts and ideas are fed from that force.
    We need to understand the fourth dimension of our existence before we head into madness and folly.

  • I love Michio Kaku's brilliance and childlike exuberance, but I recently watched an interview where he said that artificial intelligence needs to be strictly controlled so that it doesn't get out of hand. As well-constructed as his vision of the future is, that particular topic doesn't seem very thoroughly explored by him (or perhaps I haven't seen him speak enough on it). Computers will get smarter, he agrees. But we should stop them from getting too smart? How does he propose we do that? It will be like stopping people from downloading their music for free on the internet.