The Future Of The Mind: The Scientific Quest To Understand, Enhance, And Empower The Mind

Hardcover | June 24, 2015

byMichio Kaku

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NOW A #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“Compelling….Kaku thinks with great breadth, and the vistas he presents us are worth the trip”
—The New York Times Book Review


The New York Times
best-selling author of PHYSICS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE, PHYSICS OF THE FUTURE and HYPERSPACE tackles the most fascinating and complex object in the known universe: the human brain.
        
For the first time in history, the secrets of the living brain are being revealed by a battery of high tech brain scans devised by physicists. Now what was once solely the province of science fiction has become a startling reality. Recording memories, telepathy, videotaping our dreams, mind control, avatars, and telekinesis are not only possible; they already exist. 
 
THE FUTURE OF THE MIND gives us an authoritative and compelling look at the astonishing research being done in top laboratories around the world—all based on the latest advancements in neuroscience and physics.  One day we might have a "smart pill" that can enhance our cognition; be able to upload our brain to a computer, neuron for neuron; send thoughts and emotions around the world on a "brain-net"; control computers and robots with our mind; push the very limits of immortality; and perhaps even send our consciousness across the universe. 
          
Dr. Kaku takes us on a grand tour of what the future might hold, giving us not only a solid sense of how the brain functions but also how these technologies will change our daily lives. He even presents a radically new way to think about "consciousness" and applies it to provide fresh insight into mental illness, artificial intelligence and alien consciousness.  

With Dr. Kaku's deep understanding of modern science and keen eye for future developments, THE FUTURE OF THE MIND is a scientific tour de force--an extraordinary, mind-boggling exploration of the frontiers of neuroscience.

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From the Publisher

NOW A #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER“Compelling….Kaku thinks with great breadth, and the vistas he presents us are worth the trip”—The New York Times Book ReviewThe New York Times best-selling author of PHYSICS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE, PHYSICS OF THE FUTURE and HYPERSPACE tackles the most fascinating and complex object in the known universe: t...

MICHIO KAKU is a professor of physics at the City University of New York, cofounder of string field theory, and the author of several widely acclaimed science books, including Hyperspace, Beyond Einstein, Physics of the Impossible, and Physics of the Future. He is the science correspondent for CBS's This Morning and host of the radio p...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:400 pages, 9.51 × 6.45 × 1.34 inPublished:June 24, 2015Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:038553082X

ISBN - 13:9780385530828

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Getting to kn0w you The Future 0f the Miind was my first attempt to read a book of this nature. This naturally implies that the ability for a novice to understa nd thisc
Date published: 2015-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating A very interesting journey through the mind, our knowledge of it through the ages, and what may come.
Date published: 2014-03-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Brief Summary and Review *A full executive summary of this book is available at Chapters here: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/an-executive-summary-of-michio/9990044146646-item.html?ikwid=an+executive+summary+of+michio+kaku%27s+the+future+of+the+mind&ikwsec=Home&gcs_requestid=0CMjI-MvQjb0CFQWY5wodzAoAAA 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-scanning and brain-probing technology have gone into overdrive—as have the computers needed to make sense of the data from these new 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 sensing 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 scanning 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 we have learned to read the brain’s functioning to the point where we can now create rough images and video footage of thoughts and even dreams and imaginings; 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 (or BRAIN) Initiative, while the European powers contributed over $1.5 billion for 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 bound 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 machines 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 this book is available at Chapters here: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/an-executive-summary-of-michio/9990044146646-item.html?ikwid=an+executive+summary+of+michio+kaku%27s+the+future+of+the+mind&ikwsec=Home&gcs_requestid=0CMjI-MvQjb0CFQWY5wodzAoAAA
Date published: 2014-03-12

Extra Content

Read from the Book

Houdini believed that telepathy was impossible. But science is provingHoudini wrong.   Telepathy is now the subject of intense research at universities aroundthe world, where scientists have already been able to use advanced sensors toread individual words, images, and thoughts in a person’s brain. This couldalter the way we communicate with stroke and accident victims who are“locked in” their bodies, unable to articulate their thoughts except throughblinks. But that’s just the start. Telepathy might also radically change the waywe interact with computers and the outside world.      Indeed, in a recent “Next 5 in 5 Forecast,” which predicts five revolutionarydevelopments in the next five years, IBM scientists claimed that we willbe able to mentally communicate with computers, perhaps replacing themouse and voice commands. This means using the power of the mind to callpeople on the phone, pay credit card bills, drive cars, make appointments,create beautiful symphonies and works of art, etc. The possibilities are endless,and it seems that everyone— from computer giants, educators, videogame companies, and music studios to the Pentagon— is converging on thistechnology.   True telepathy, found in science-fiction and fantasy novels, is not possiblewithout outside assistance. As we know, the brain is electrical. In general,anytime an electron is accelerated, it gives off electromagnetic radiation. Thesame holds true for electrons oscillating inside the brain, which broadcastsradio waves. But these signals are too faint to be detected by others, andeven if we could perceive these radio waves, it would be difficult to makesense of them. Evolution has not given us the ability to decipher this collectionof random radio signals, but computers can. Scientists have been ableto get crude approximations of a person’s thoughts using EEG scans. Subjectswould put on a helmet with EEG sensors and concentrate on certainpictures— say, the image of a car. The EEG signals were then recorded foreach image and eventually a rudimentary dictionary of thought was created,with a one- to- one correspondence between a person’s thoughts and the EEGimage. Then, when a person was shown a picture of another car, the computerwould recognize the EEG pattern as being from a car.   The advantage of EEG sensors is that they are noninvasive and quick.You simply put a helmet containing many electrodes onto the surface of thebrain and the EEG can rapidly identify signals that change every millisecond.But the problem with EEG sensors, as we have seen, is that electromagneticwaves deteriorate as they pass through the skull, and it is difficult to locatetheir precise source. This method can tell if you are thinking of a car or ahouse, but it cannot re- create an image of the car. That is where Dr. Jack Gallant’swork comes in. VIDEOS OF THE MINDThe epicenter for much of this research is the University of California atBerkeley, where I received my own Ph.D. in theoretical physics years ago. Ihad the pleasure of touring the laboratory of Dr. Gallant, whose group hasaccomplished a feat once considered to be impossible: videotaping people’sthoughts. “This is a major leap forward reconstructing internal imagery. Weare opening a window into the movies in our mind,” says Gallant.      When I visited his laboratory, the first thing I noticed was the team ofyoung, eager postdoctoral and graduate students huddled in front of theircomputer screens, looking intently at video images that were reconstructedfrom someone’s brain scan. Talking to Gallant’s team, you feel as though youare witnessing scientific history in the making.   Gallant explained to me that first the subject lies flat on a stretcher, whichis slowly inserted headfirst into a huge, state- of- the- art MRI machine, costingupward of $3 million. The subject is then shown several movie clips (suchas movie trailers readily available on YouTube). To accumulate enough data,the subject has to sit motionless for hours watching these clips, a truly arduoustask. I asked one of the postdocs, Dr. Shinji Nishimoto, how they foundvolunteers who were willing to lie still for hours on end with only fragmentsof video footage to occupy the time. He said the people in the room, the gradstudents and postdocs, volunteered to be guinea pigs for their own research.As the subject watches the movies, the MRI machine creates a 3- D imageof the blood flow within the brain. The MRI image looks like a vast collectionof thirty thousand dots, or voxels. Each voxel represents a pinpoint of neural energy, and the color of the dot corresponds to the intensity of the signal and blood flow. Red dots represent points of large neural activity, while blue dots represent points of less activity. (The final image looks very much like thousands of Christmas lights in the shape of the brain. Immediately you can see that the brain is concentrating most of its mental energy in the visual cortex, which is located at the back of the brain, while watching these videos.)   Gallant’s MRI machine is so powerful it can identify two to three hundred distinct regions of the brain and, on average, can take snapshots that have one hundred dots per region of the brain. (One goal for future generations of MRI technology is to provide an even sharper resolution by increasing the number of dots per region of the brain.)   At first, this 3- D collection of colored dots looks like gibberish. But afteryears of research, Dr. Gallant and his colleagues have developed a mathematicalformula that begins to find relationships between certain features of a picture (edges, textures, intensity, etc.) and the MRI voxels. For example, if you look at a boundary, you’ll notice it’s a region separating lighter and darker areas, and hence the edge generates a certain pattern of voxels. By having subject after subject view such a large library of movie clips, this mathematical formula is refined, allowing the computer to analyze how all sorts of images are converted into MRI voxels. Eventually the scientists were able to ascertain a direct correlation between certain MRI patterns of voxelsand features within each picture.   At this point, the subject is then shown another movie trailer. The computeranalyzes the voxels generated during this viewing and re- creates a rough approximation of the original image. (The computer selects images from one hundred movie clips that most closely resemble the one that the subject just saw and then merges images to create a close approximation.) In this way, the computer is able to create a fuzzy video of the visual imagery going through your mind. Dr. Gallant’s mathematical formula is so versatile that it can take a collection of MRI voxels and convert it into a picture, or it can do the reverse, taking a picture and then converting it to MRI voxels.   I had a chance to view the video created by Dr. Gallant’s group, and it wasvery impressive. Watching it was like viewing a movie with faces, animals,street scenes, and buildings through dark glasses. Although you could notsee the details within each face or animal, you could clearly identify the kindof object you were seeing.   Not only can this program decode what you are looking at, it can alsodecode imaginary images circulating in your head. Let’s say you are asked tothink of the Mona Lisa. We know from MRI scans that even though you’renot viewing the painting with your eyes, the visual cortex of your brain willlight up. Dr. Gallant’s program then scans your brain while you are thinkingof the Mona Lisa and flips through its data files of pictures, trying to find theclosest match. In one experiment I saw, the computer selected a picture ofthe actress Salma Hayek as the closest approximation to the Mona Lisa. Ofcourse, the average person can easily recognize hundreds of faces, but thefact that the computer analyzed an image within a person’s brain and thenpicked out this picture from millions of random pictures at its disposal isstill impressive.   The goal of this whole process is to create an accurate dictionary thatallows you to rapidly match an object in the real world with the MRI patternin your brain. In general, a detailed match is very difficult and will take years,but some categories are actually easy to read just by flipping through somephotographs. Dr. Stanislas Dehaene of the Collège de France in Paris wasexamining MRI scans of the parietal lobe, where numbers are recognized,when one of his postdocs casually mentioned that just by quickly scanningthe MRI pattern, he could tell what number the subject was looking at. Infact, certain numbers created distinctive patterns on the MRI scan. He notes,“If you take 200 voxels in this area, and look at which of them are activeand which are inactive, you can construct a machine-learning device thatdecodes which number is being held in memory.”   This leaves open the question of when we might be able to have picture qualityvideos of our thoughts. Unfortunately, information is lost when aperson is visualizing an image. Brain scans corroborate this. When you comparethe MRI scan of the brain as it is looking at a flower to an MRI scanas the brain is thinking about a flower, you immediately see that the secondimage has far fewer dots than the first. So although this technology willvastly improve in the coming years, it will never be perfect. (I once read ashort story in which a man meets a genie who offers to create anything thatthe person can imagine. The man immediately asks for a luxury car, a jetplane, and a million dollars. At first, the man is ecstatic. But when he looks atthese items in detail, he sees that the car and the plane have no engines, andthe image on the cash is all blurred. Everything is useless. This is because ourmemories are only approximations of the real thing.)   But given the rapidity with which scientists are beginning to decode theMRI patterns in the brain, will we soon be able to actually read words andthoughts circulating in the mind?READING THE MINDIn fact, in a building next to Gallant’s laboratory, Dr. Brian Pasley and hiscolleagues are literally reading thoughts— at least in principle. One of thepostdocs there, Dr. Sara Szczepanski, explained to me how they are able toidentify words inside the mind.   The scientists used what is called ECOG (electrocorticogram) technology,which is a vast improvement over the jumble of signals that EEG scansproduce. ECOG scans are unprecedented in accuracy and resolution, sincesignals are directly recorded from the brain and do not pass through theskull. The flipside is that one has to remove a portion of the skull to place amesh, containing sixty-four electrodes in an eight-by-eight grid, directly ontop of the exposed brain.   Luckily they were able to get permission to conduct experiments withECOG scans on epileptic patients, who were suffering from debilitating seizures.The ECOG mesh was placed on the patients’ brains while open- brainsurgery was being performed by doctors at the nearby University of Californiaat San Francisco.   As the patients hear various words, signals from their brains pass throughthe electrodes and are then recorded. Eventually a dictionary is formed,matching the word with the signals emanating from the electrodes in thebrain. Later, when a word is uttered, one can see the same electrical pattern. This correspondence also means that if one is thinking of a certain word, thecomputer can pick up the characteristic signals and identify it.With this technology, it might be possible to have a conversation thattakes place entirely telepathically. Also, stroke victims who are totally paralyzedmay be able to “talk” through a voice synthesizer that recognizes thebrain patterns of individual words.   Not surprisingly, BMI (brain- machine interface) has become a hot field,with groups around the country making significant breakthroughs. Similarresults were obtained by scientists at the University of Utah in 2011. Theyplaced grids, each containing sixteen electrodes, over the facial motor cortex(which controls movements of the mouth, lips, tongue, and face) andWernicke’s area, which processes information about language. The person was then asked to say ten common words, such as “yes” and “no,” “hot” and “cold,” “hungry” and “thirsty,” “hello” and “good- bye,” and “more” and “less.” Using a computer to record the brain signals when these words were uttered, the scientists were able to create a rough one- to- one correspondence between spoken words and computer signals from the brain.   Later, when the patient voiced certain words, they were able to correctlyidentify each one with an accuracy ranging from 76 percent to 90 percent.The next step is to use grids with 121 electrodes to get better resolution.In the future, this procedure may prove useful for individuals sufferingfrom strokes or paralyzing illnesses such as Lou Gehrig’s disease, who wouldbe able to speak using the brain- to- computer technique.TYPING WITH THE MINDAt the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, Dr. Jerry Shih has hooked up epilepticpatients via ECOG sensors so they can learn how to type with the mind.The calibration of this device is simple. The patient is first shown a seriesof letters and is told to focus mentally on each symbol. A computer recordsthe signals emanating from the brain as it scans each letter. As with the otherexperiments, once this one- to- one dictionary is created, it is then a simplematter for the person to merely think of the letter and for the letter to betyped on a screen, using only the power of the mind.   Dr. Shih, the leader of this project, says that the accuracy of his machineis nearly 100 percent. Dr. Shih believes that he can next create a machine torecord images, not just words, that patients conceive in their minds. Thiscould have applications for artists and architects, but the big drawback ofECOG technology, as we have mentioned, is that it requires opening uppatients’ brains.   Meanwhile, EEG typewriters, because they are noninvasive, are enteringthe marketplace. They are not as accurate or precise as ECOG typewriters,but they have the advantage that they can be sold over the counter. GugerTechnologies, based in Austria, recently demonstrated an EEG typewriter ata trade show. According to their officials, it takes only ten minutes or so forpeople to learn how to use this machine, and they can then type at the rateof five to ten words per minute.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for The Future of the Mind,  #1 New York Times Bestseller “Compelling…Kaku thinks with great breadth, and the vistas he presents us are worth the trip” —The New York Times Book Review “Intriguing….extraordinary findings…A fascinating sprint through everything from telepathy research to the 147,456 processors of the Blue Gene computer, which has been used to simulate 4.5% of the brain’s synapses and neurons”—Nature “Fizzes with his characteristic effervescence….Fascinating….. For all his talk of surrogates and intelligent robots, no manufactured being could have a fraction of his charisma.”—The Independent “A mind-bending study of the possibilities of the brain....a clear and readable guide to what is going on at a time of astonishingly rapid change.”—The Telegraph “In this expansive, illuminating journey through the mind, theoretical physicist Kaku (Physics of the Future) explores fantastical realms of science fiction that may soon become our reality. His futurist framework merges physics with neuroscience... applied to demonstrations that “show proof-of-principle” in accomplishing what was previously fictional: that minds can be read, memories can be digitally stored, and intelligences can be improved to great extents. The discussion, while heavily scientific, is engaging, clear, and replete with cinematic references... These new mental frontiers make for captivating reading”-Publishers Weekly   “Kaku turns his attention to the human mind with equally satisfying results…Telepathy is no longer a fantasy since scanners can already detect, if crudely, what a subject is thinking, and genetics and biochemistry now allow researchers to alter memories and increase intelligence in animals. Direct electrical stimulation of distinct brain regions has changed behavior, awakened comatose patients, relieved depression, and produced out-of-body and religious experiences… Kaku is not shy about quoting science-fiction movies and TV (he has seen them all)… he delivers ingenious predictions extrapolated from good research already in progress.”                                                                                                                                     -Kirkus Reviews“Facts to ponder: there are as many stars in our galaxy (about 100 billion) as there are neurons in your brain; your cell phone has more computing power than NASA had when it landed Apollo 11 on the moon. These seemingly unrelated facts tell us two things: our brains are magnificently complex organisms, and science fiction has a way of becoming reality rather quickly. This deeply fascinating book by theoretical physicist Kaku explores what might be in store for our minds: practical telepathy and telekinesis; artificial memories implanted into our brains; and a pill that will make us smarter. He describes work being done right now on using sensors to read images in the human brain and on downloading artificial memories into the brain to treat victims of strokes and Alzheimer’s. SF fans might experience a sort of breathless thrill when reading the book—This stuff is happening! It’s really happening!—and for general readers who have never really thought of the brain in all its glorious complexity and potential, the book could be a seriously mind-opening experience.”-BooklistPraise for Physics of the Future "[A] wide-ranging tour of what to expect from technological progress over the next century or so.... fascinating—and related with commendable clarity"--Wall Street Journal"Mind-bending........Kaku has a gift for explaining incredibly complex concepts, on subjects as far-ranging as nanotechnology and space travel, in language the lay reader can grasp....engrossing"--San Francisco Chronicle"Epic in its scope and heroic in its inspiration"--Scientific American "[Kaku] has the rare ability to take complicated scientific theories and turn them into readable tales about what our lives will be like in the future.....fun...fascinating. And just a little bit spooky"--USA Today Praise for Physics of the Impossible "An invigorating experience"-The Christian Science Monitor “Kaku's latest book aims to explain exactly why some visions of the future may eventually be realized while others are likely to remain beyond the bounds of possibility. . . . Science fiction often explores such questions; science falls silent at this point. Kaku's work helps to fill a void.”—The Economist “Mighty few theoretical physicists would bother expounding some of these possible impossibilities, and Kaku is to be congratulated for doing so. . . . [He gets] the juices of future physicists flowing.”—Los Angeles Times