Saturday, August 26, 2017

Book Review: Physics of the future

'Physics of the future: how science will shape human destiny and our daily lives by the year 2100' by Michio Kaku is a scientist's peep at the days to come.

The book begins with the observation that almost all of the old predictions regarding future, like paperless office, or the prediction that the Internet would wipe out TV and radio, did not actually take place. "This", the author says, is thus because "we probably still think like our caveman ancestors." 
Thinking thus, author starts his predictions, dividing the future into three parts. The first part is our immediate future, upto the year 2030, where, I think the current state of the art in respect of the scientific world and its progress, takes precedence. For example, "A visit to the doctor’s office will be completely changed". For a routine checkup, when you talk to the “doctor,” it will probably be a robotic software program that appears on your wall screen and that can correctly diagnose up to 95 percent of all common ailments. Your “doctor” may look like a person, but it will actually be an animated image programmed to ask certain simple questions. Your “doctor” will also have a complete record of your genes, and will recommend a course of medical treatments that takes into account all your genetic risk factors.Or a fairy tale life. "Because computers will be able to locate many of the genes that control the aging process, we might be forever young like Peter Pan."
Next part examines mid centuries, years 2030 to 2070. Here, the author begins with reminiscenses of a previous visit to microsoft where he happened to predict the collapse of computer industry owing to Moore's law, and how it didn't happen. Predictions like a successor to silicon power, an altered computer growth rate,  fully functioning cyberworld that merges the real world, etc., abound this part. Vivid descriptions like the one of a future tourist where, "a tourist walking in a museum can go from exhibit to exhibit as one's contact lens gives a description of each object; a virtual guide will give a cybertour," kept taxing my imagination.
Thereafter comes the far future, 2070 to 2100. "By the end of this century, we will control computers directly with our minds', author begins. The ideas of controlling machines by mind and mind by machines might fructify. Recording dreams, controlling motion by thought, adding consciousness to machines, possibilities of genomic medicine, and a load of amazing scenarios follows thereafter. Then comes the idea of a designer life, where each of us can plan our present or future path at will, and the book concludes with the description of a day in the life in 2100. "..you drag yourself out of bed and reluctantly head off to the bathroom. While washing your face, hundreds of hidden DNA and protein sensors in the mirror, toilet, and sink silently spring into action, analyzing the molecules you emit in your breath and bodily fluids, checking for the slightest hint of any disease at the molecular level."
I greatly enjoyed this book, which is a scientific look at the romantic future in store for us. The dreaming part of my brain (if there be one) went into an overdrive right from the start of this book to its finish.