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Michio Kaku

The Future of the Mind

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    Ultimately, I think free will probably does exist, but it is not the free will envisioned by rugged individualists who claim they are complete masters of their fate. The brain is influenced by thousands of unconscious factors that predispose us to make certain choices ahead of time, even if we think we made them ourselves.
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    The Catholic Church split in half on this precise question during the Protestant revolution. According to Catholic doctrine at that time, one could change one’s ultimate fate with an indulgence, usually by making generous financial donations to the Church. In other words, determinism could be altered by the size of your wallet
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    The material world may come and go, but consciousness remains as the defining element, which means that consciousness, in some sense, creates reality. The very existence of the atoms we see around us is based on our ability to see and touch them.
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    Physicists embarked on an eighty-year debate that continues even today. On one hand, Einstein would proclaim that “God does not play dice with the world.” Niels Bohr, on the other hand, reportedly replied, “Stop telling God what to do.”
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    some people claim that we will never understand the secret of consciousness, since consciousness is beyond our puny technology. In fact, in their view consciousness is more fundamental than atoms, molecules, and neurons and determines the nature of reality itself. To them, consciousness is the fundamental entity out of which the material world is created.
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    Dr. David Eagleman says, “What a perplexing masterpiece the brain is, and how lucky we are to be in a generation that has the technology and the will to turn our attention to it. It is the most wondrous thing we have discovered in the universe, and it is us.” Instead of diminishing the sense of wonder, learning about the brain only
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    He concludes, “Our reality depends on what our biology is up to.”
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    We are literally children of the stars.
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    So on one hand, the Copernican Principle indicates that we are just insignificant cosmic debris drifting aimlessly among the stars. But on the other hand, all the latest cosmological data are consistent with yet another theory, which gives us the opposite philosophy: the Anthropic Principle.
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    And if string theory (my specialty) is correct, it means that even the entire universe coexists with other universes in eleven-dimensional hyperspace. So even three-dimensional space is not the final word. The true arena for physical phenomena is the multiverse of universes, full of floating bubble universes.
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    More recent cosmological theories further downgrade the position of humanity in the universe. The inflationary universe theory states that our visible universe, with its one hundred billion galaxies, is just a pinprick on a much larger, inflated universe that is so big that most light has not had time to reach us yet from distant regions
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    (In fact, the main threat we face from technology, one that has killed millions of people, is not murderous robots or mad nanobots run amok—it’s our indulgent lifestyle, which has created near-epidemic levels of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, etc. And this problem is self-inflicted.)
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    First, in 2011 the Kepler satellite, for the first time in history, gave scientists a “census” of the Milky Way galaxy. After analyzing light from thousands of stars, the Kepler satellite found that one in two hundred might harbor an earthlike planet in the habitable zone.
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    existence.

    We have only to see what happened to the Aztecs when they encountered the bloodthirsty Hernán Cortés and his conquistadors to imagine what might happen with such a fateful encounter. Armed with technology that the Bronze Age Aztecs had never seen before, such as iron swords, gunpowder, and the horse, this small band of cutthroats was able to crush the ancient Aztec civilization in a matter of months in 1521.
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    In 2011, Stephen Hawking raised another question. The noted cosmologist made headlines when he said that we must be prepared for a possible alien attack.
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    Certain animals, like fish and frogs, can be frozen solid in a block of ice in winter yet be perfectly healthy after thawing out in spring. This is because they use glucose as an antifreeze to alter the freezing point of water in their blood. Thus their blood remains liquid, even though they are encased in solid ice. This high concentration of glucose in the human body, however, would probably be fatal
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    When I was a child, I read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy and was deeply influenced by it. First, it forced me to ask a simple question: What will technology look like fifty thousand years in the future, when we have a galactic empire?
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    By 2019, a $1,000 PC will have the computing power of the human brain—twenty million billion calculations per second.
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    Dr. Kurzweil loves to make predictions, and many of them have mirrored the remarkable exponential growth of digital technology
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    told me his fascination with computers and artificial intelligence began when he was five years old and his parents bought him all sorts of mechanical devices and toys. He loved to tinker with these devices, and even as a child he knew he was destined to become an inventor.
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