Michio Kaku is a futurist, popularizer of science, and theoretical physicist, as well as a bestselling author and the host of two radio programs. He is the co-founder of string field theory (a branch of string theory), and continues Einstein’s search to unite the four fundamental forces of nature into one unified theory. He holds the Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in theoretical physics and a joint appointment at City College of New York and the Graduate Center of C.U.N.Y. He is also a visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
Kaku launched his Big Think blog, "Dr. Kaku's Universe," in March 2010.
Michio Kaku: Isaac Asimov was my favorite science fiction writer and his favorite science fiction story talked about an era far in the future when our bodies would be in pods and we would mentally control beings, beings of pure energy that would go flying around the universe. And, of course, it was science fiction but here’s the idea. Mind without body. Pure consciousness roaming across the universe faster than any rocket ship. It turns out that that’s actually a physical possibility. First of all the Obama administration and the European Union are pushing the Brain Project to delineate all the pathways of the human brain. This means that one day we might have a CD ROM called Brain 2.0. That is every single neuron encoded on a memory disc, your personality, your memories, who you are, the essence of your soul would be incorporated in this disc as pure information. Even if you die your consciousness, in some sense, may live on.
Now you as an organic being will have died. That means that your neurons will turn to dust. But the configuration of neurons that made your thinking process possible can be put on a disc in which case, in some sense you become immortal. Not only immortal but this could be the most efficient way to explore the galaxy just like Isaac Asimov predicted in his short story. Let’s say I take your – not your genome but your connectome, put it on a laser beam – in fact in the book I actually calculate how big a laser beam will be required to put your consciousness as pure photons – shine it into the heavens. You’re now shooting consciousness into outer space at the speed of light. Forget booster rockets. Forget asteroid collisions. Forget radiation dangers and weightlessness and lack of oxygen. Forget all that. You are riding on a laser beam at the speed of light and then at the end there’s a relay station.
A relay station which takes the laser beam and then puts into a surrogate. That is all the neural networks encoded into laser beam can be manifested as a robot on the other side of the galaxy. So in other words, it’s like staying at a hotel. If you’re a businessman you go from hotel to hotel and relax. The same way you’d be on a laser beam going from relay station to relay station and when you go to the relay station you take the robot body of a super human. You become superman on the other end of the rainbow. So is this a physical possibility? Yes. When might we have it? Well let’s be honest. It would take perhaps a hundred years or so before we have a complete understanding of the connection that is all the neuropathways of the brain. Perhaps another century beyond that before we have relay stations on which we could then shoot our consciousness into outer space. Is it mathematically and physically possible and the answer is yes.
Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Dillon Fitton
Michio Kaku: In the entire universe the two greatest scientific mysteries are first of all the origin of the universe itself. And second of all the origin of intelligence. Believe it or not, sitting on our...