Michio Kaku, what a lad. He is a Hero of Science, Commander of Optimism, General of Pragmatism and Vanguard of the Human Spirit. Give the video above a little watch to see what I’m getting at…if not read on.
In case you missed it, Michio Kaku is an American theoretical physicist, author and science communicator. He has appeared on countless television programs and documentaries and written several bestselling books including Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century and Beyond & Future of Humanity. Professionally as a theoretical physicist, he works on String Field Theory, sometimes called the ‘Theory of Everything’ as it tries to unite Einstein’s Theory of Relativity (gravity and the macro world) and Quantum Theory (the world of the particles and sub-atomic particles). Long story short, dealing with the nature of reality.
But I’m not here to talk about String Field Theory, that’s way beyond my comprehension. I’m here to talk a little bit about the man behind it. Michio (among others) has been one of the key inspirations behind me creating this blog. He extols ‘bigger-picture-long-term-thinking’ as a paradigm for policy making, something which I very much believe in; far too often politicians have knee-jerk reactions to events and circumstance, making short-sighted ill-informed policies in response. More often than not they do not solve the root cause of the problem and just further exacerbate the situation down-stream.
He is fantastic at making intimidating subjects accessible and understandable to the average person and what I love about him most is his “we can have our cake and eat it” attitude. I think some people may see him as overly idealistic, and I can understand why, but I very much endorse and agree with his attitude because there is only one thing standing in our way of a bright and prosperous future and that is the Political Will to do it. We have the scientific know-how and technical knowledge to make it happen, but it won’t happen unless we tell our politicians en masse, with conviction in our voice, that we want policies to be based on empirical evidence & reason rather than ideology. That we want to be a society that has the foresight to take control of our own fate (after all, we are the first species able to control our own fate) and use our mastery over the environment for the prosperity of all human-kind, and by extension of that all life on earth. We need the Political Will to do this or we risk exposing ourselves to cataclysmic events which could wipe us out or at least put a severe dent in our history. We can have our cake and eat it, if we want to.
Some people will want to call this wishy-washy bullshit, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. We are living on the cusp of what science fiction writers have been writing about for the past 100 years.
- Artificial Intelligence
- Genetic Engineering
- 3D Printing & Manufacturing
- Self-Driving Cars
- Quantum Levitation
- Brain-Machine Interfaces
- Digital/Actual Immortality
- Fusion Power
- Asteroid Mining
- Off-World Colonization
- And so on…
You get the picture…all these things aren’t in some far-flung future, these are things that are being worked on now and are at various stages development. If you need anymore convincing that we’re living in the future, NASA are even working on the feasibility of the Alcubierre Drive (A.K.A god-damn Warp Drive).
These things are going to be coming into our lives more and more over the next few decades to varying degrees and they’re going to fundamentally change global life. What Michio is trying to drive home, and what I back him 10,000% on is that we need to be talking about these disruptive (albeit amazing) technologies now and not when they have already disrupted life and it becomes much more expensive and effort to sort out.
I think the key thing we need to hold onto that Michio promotes (as well as many other scientist, engineers and futurists) is the need for us not to be a one planet species. 99% of all the species that have ever existed have become extinct. We are at the mercy of the universe, we are in a cosmic shooting gallery and when (not if) a global extinction asteroid comes floating our way again, we need insurance against it. Conversely, if nature doesn’t wipe us out through rogue asteroids or a viral pandemic, we need to insure ourselves against human stupidity, on the off chance mutually assured destruction ever becomes a thing. Fortunately, the best weapon against both these things is the human imagination and ingenuity. The only pragmatic thing to do is use science and technology to ensure a prosperous and safe future for all life on earth, and to protect us from ourselves.
Randall Munroe said:
“The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there’s no good reason to go into space – each discovered, studied and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision.”
I support Michio, and all others, who want to work towards the sci-fi vision of the future that has been prophesied to us through pop-culture because at the end of the day…Not only should we have our cake and eat, but we must.