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addabook - The Future of the Mind
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The Future of the Mind
The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind
Michio Kaku
read on March 1, 2014

One of the words I think I overuse when describing a lot of these books is "accessible", but it's the first thing I thought of when sitting down to write this. Kaku is a great writer, and he's put together a super interesting, relatively dumbed down, mass market description of where things are in neuroscience. Kaku is actually a physicist, which gave him an interesting perspective. He approached most of these questions in those terms, judging whether or not many future expectations in brain science would be possible, not based on our understanding of the brain, but on our understanding of the laws of physics.

One thing I liked in particular was Kaku's definition of consciousness: "The process of creating a model of the world using multiple feedback loops in various parameters [such as temperature, space and time] in order to accomplish a goal [such as finding shelter, mates or food]". He actually goes on to quantify the experience of consciousness as well. I really liked this pragmatic approach, and helped me wrap a little bit more of my head around the experience of being conscious.

The book had lots of short little mentions of interesting experiments currently under way. My favorites would be the mind-melded mice (mice whose brains are hooked up via the internet), and the folks over at the Gallant Lab in Berkeley, who are making surprisingly (disturbingly?) good progress at being able to visualize a persons dreams (and therefore, thoughts).

Best of all, the book explicitly confronts the reader with a lot of uncomfortable questions. How will the world react to the ability to mind read? To create cloned selves? To remotely power a surrogate body? To live forever?

Author Bio:

Dr. Michio Kaku is the co-creator of string field theory, a branch of string theory. He received a B.S. (summa cum laude) from Harvard University in 1968 where he came first in his physics class. He went on to the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley and received a Ph.D. in 1972. In 1973, he held a lectureship at Princeton University. Michio continues Einstein's search for a Theory of Everything, seeking to unify the four fundamental forces of the universe the strong force, the weak force, gravity and electromagnetism. He is the author of several scholarly, Ph.D. level textbooks and has had more than 70 articles published in physics journals, covering topics such as superstring theory, supergravity, supersymmetry, and hadronic physics.