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Educational video about what scientists and technology developers have accomplished and plan to have accomplished by 2057
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On january 08 2008
Denippo
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by Andres, on May 15 2007:
Thanks denippo. This longer version is much better.
by Andres, on June 14 2007:
This post has become Thoughtware.TV's first viral video. It sky rocketed to the three digit visits quickly!

Congrats, denippo :-)
by Andres, on June 30 2007:
This was the first video on Thoughtware.tv to sky rocket above the 3k mark.
by Arsonistxx77, on July 12 2007:
Wow. Makes me depressed that I wont be able to experiment with those things like i can now xD. I'll be like 70
by Andres, on August 06 2007:
Hi Arsonistxx77. You can actually do something about that.

Have you seen Aubrey De Grey's videos here on thoughtware?

Do a search for 'aubrey'
by Andres, on August 06 2007:
I managed to be the first talk to Michio Kaku when this program was introduced for the first time on Discovery Channel.

They have the transcript online at the original website. I'm copying here in case you're interested.

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Discovery Channel :
Michio Kaku Chat Transcript

Discovery: What would you see and experience if the clocks rolled forward 50 years? Physicist and 2057 host Michio Kaku is here for the next hour to answer your questions about our possible futures. So ask away!

Dr. Kaku: Welcome to everyone who's dialed into Discovery.com. I hope that the series 2057 has given you an exciting yet scientifically authentic vision of the next 50 years.

andres: What about advances in neurotechnology? Will we be able to achieve technological telepathy?

Dr. Kaku: I think a limited form of telepathy may be possible in the coming decades. At the very minimum, we should be able to create a dictionary of thought. That is, a one to one correspondence between certain MRI and EEG patterns, and certain specific thought patterns. However, at the present time, we cannot even reliably detect when a person is telling a lie. But in the next decade, we will be able to establish that certain thoughts like love, hate, lying, or telling the truth, correspond to certain neural pathways as detected by MRI and EEG scans. So I don't think we will have perfect telepathy, but I do think we will eventually construct a dictionary of thought.

yankeesfan1: What exactly is Einstein's theory of everything?

Dr. Kaku: Einstein unified matter and energy as well as space and time. His goal, however, was to go beyond that. He wanted to unify all the physical forces of the universe. Including gravity and light. He failed. He spent the last 30 years of his life chasing after a theory of all physical forces. Today, we think we have a candidate for the theory of everything which might allow us to "read the mind of God." The theory is called string theory. It states that all the particles of nature are nothing but tiny vibrations on a small rubber band. So physics is the laws of harmonies of the strings, chemistry is the laws of melody of the strings, the universe is a symphony of strings, and the "mind of God" is cosmic music resonating through eleven-dimensional hyperspace.

andres: Will Brain Machine Interfaces assist not only the impaired but assist us all in our everyday lives?

Dr. Kaku: Possibly. At the present time, stroke victims and people with injured spinal cords can benefit the most from breakthroughs like braingate. This is a chip that is placed on the living brain, which is connected to a laptop computer allowing a paralyzed stroke victim to control the computer. By sheer thought, a paralyzed person can play computer games, type messages, direct a wheelchair, and eventually, we hope, walk. However, it will take many decades to come before we can perfect this technology. In the future, normal people may want to take advantage of this technology. For example, astronauts in outer space executing very dangerous and complicated motions may want to use this technology to free up their hands when making repair operations on their spaceship.

CoolFinalFan: Do you think the space elevator will ever become a reality and come into being?

Dr. Kaku: There is a good chance that the space elevator may become a reality if we can spin carbon nanotubes into fibers that are thousands of miles long. I caution, however, that the world's record for a carbon nanotube fiber is only 7 mm. So it will take many decades to come before scientists can spin carbon nanotubes into fibers long enough to create a space elevator. On paper, because carbon nanotubes are 100 times stronger than steel, it should be possible to build a space elevator. However, the technical problems are still enormous and at the present time we simply don't know whether we can spin carbon nanotubes long enough to climb our way into heaven like Jack and the beanstalk.

patricksugi: How will advances in quantum physics affect the culture of the future?

Dr. Kaku: There are many ways in which quantum physics will change everything. First, the invisibility cloak of Harry Potter may become a possibility with a new quantum substance called metamaterials. They disobey the known laws of physics as presented in most college physics textbooks. Already scientists at Duke University have created a microwave invisibility shield that works, raising the hope that in the coming decades we may be able to make objects invisible under obstacle frequencies, not just microwave frequencies. Also, quantum physics may give us teleportation like in Star Trek. This was once considered scientifically impossible, but now at many laboratories around the world we have successfully teleported individual photons and cesium atoms. This is still a far cry from teleporting Captain Kirk! But we still have proof of principle that we can at least teleport atoms. Also, quantum physics may give us super magnets which means cars and trains that float in the air. The key is room temperature superconductors. At the present time, the world record for creating a superconductor is for temperatures that are quite low, the temperature of liquid nitrogen. However, liquid nitrogen costs as much as a quart of milk. Therefore, with the current superconductors, we can cool down and create super magnets that are much cheaper than in the past.

234567890: What will be the average life length for a man in 2057?

Dr. Kaku: Nobody knows how long we will live in 2057. However, many of the genes which influence aging have gradually been discovered. At the present time, we can double the lifespan of most living organisms, from yeast cells to insects and spiders to laboratory mice, and now we are experimenting with monkeys. By feeding them a near starvation diet, we can extend their lifespan. However, most humans do not want to eat a starvation diet. Therefore, scientists at Harvard University are studying a gene called SIR2. This gene seems to give you the benefit of a near starvation diet without having to starve yourself. Also, by comparing the genes of elderly people with the genes of very young people, we can see where aging takes place in our genes. From this, we've isolated about 60 genes that seem to control human aging. Also, in Menlo Park CA, scientists have immortalized the first human skin cells. Skin cells usually divide 60 times and then grow old and die. We can now extend their lifespan so they become immortal. These human skin cells have now divided thousands of times without dying. So we still don't have the Fountain of Youth. However, in the future, as our organs grow old, we will grow new ones in a human body shop and we will repair the genes that are most sensitive to aging. I personally believe that we will extend the human lifespan. But when, we cannot say.

ba4: Do you think that in 2057 germ warfare may not be a threat anymore?

Dr. Kaku: Unfortunately for every advance in science, there are those who would want to misuse that science. In 1972, the US and the former Soviet Union signed a treaty concerning biological weapons, but there were many loopholes because the treaty only banned biological weapons for offensive use. In the age of biotechnology, offense and defense is often the same thing. So we do know that both the United States and the former Soviet Union created designer germs that are quite lethal. Also, the smallpox virus still exists, and is very tightly controlled in Moscow and also Atlanta GA. If it escapes, it could kill millions to billions of people. Also, the 1918 Spanish flu virus which killed perhaps 40 million people (more than WW1) has been reconstructed in the laboratory. The blueprint for the 1918 Spanish Flu virus has even been published on the internet. I personally do not think this was a good idea. However, scientists hope that publishing the blueprint of one of the greatest killers in the history of the human race will accelerate scientific progress. So I personally believe that we need a new treaty to restrict research on designer germ warfare.

Lantean259: Bravo Mr. Kaku, thanks for a glimpse into the future. After seeing this I wondered what technology we might be imagining when we become a Type 2 or Type 3 civilization?

Dr. Kaku: A Type 1 civilization is a planetary civilization that controls all planetary power. A Type 2 civilization controls an entire star, as in Star Trek. A Type 3 civilization controls the power of a galaxy, as in Star Wars.
By contrast, we are a Type 0 civilization. We get our energy from dead plants oil and coal. However, we are perhaps 100 years away from becoming a Type 1 planetary civilization. For example, English will probably be the language of the future Type 1 civilization. The European Union and NAFTA are prototypes of the Type 1 economy. The internet is the beginning of a Type 1 telephone system. We see the beginning of a Type 1 culture. For example, rock'n'roll, blue jeans, rap music, and youth culture. We even have individuals who don't want to enter a Type 1 civilization, and these are the terrorists. Terrorists instinctively realize that a Type 1 civilization is multicultural, tolerant, and democratic and they feel more comfortable living in a Type 1 civilization.

By the time we become a Type 2 civilization, in several thousand years, we will become immortal as a civilization. Nothing known to science can destroy a Type 2 civilization. Meteors and comets can be deflected. Ice ages can be averted. Even a supernova of their sun is not fatal because they can either flee into outer space, or move their planet or stop their sun from exploding. So a Type 2 civilization would have fantastic technologies that we can only imagine.

A Type 3 civilization would be advanced enough to explore most of the Milky Way galaxy. They would do this not by sending Captain Kirk through all the planets because there are too many planets out there. They would send self-replicating robots on to the moon of the galaxy. These self-replicating robots would create a factory to reproduce themselves by the millions. Moons are quite stable for millions of years, and would make an ideal site for a robot factory. These robots would then travel to other moons to create millions more copies of themselves in the same way that a virus can colonize a human being and give you a cold in one week. This may sound familiar because this is the plot of the movie 2001. So the most realistic encounter with a Type 3 civilization is given by the movie 2001.

Futurologist: In the show you didn't go into the possibility of a Technological Singularity happening by 2057 (yet it's predicted to happen around 2029). Does this mean you don't think that a Singularity will happen, even though it's simply a logical extrapolation of Moore's Law?

Dr. Kaku: Moore's Law, which states that computer power doubles every 18 months, may collapse by 2020, making Silicon Valley become a rust belt. That's why we physicists are desperately trying to create the post-silicon era's computers. If we fail, it means that computer power will flatten by 2020, perhaps creating a depression. There is no guarantee that we will be able to compute on molecules and atoms after 2020. Your laptop has a chip with a layer 20 atoms across. By 2020, that layer will be 5 atoms across, and then the Uncertainty Principle takes over and electrons leak out, creating a short circuit. This means we have to create quantum computers that compute on atoms. However, the world record for a quantum computer calculation is 3 times 5 = 15. Even children know that. So if computer power were to grow without limit, then perhaps a singularity may occur. In other words, a very sharp break from the previous history of the expansion of computer power. However, we have a stumbling block and that is the laws of physics. So at the present time, it is not clear precisely how the post-silicon era will unfold.

Rhaomi: How can American-style suburbia survive without cheap oil? Cities can use alternative energies, but suburban sprawl and its economic model is dependent on a steady flow of petroleum.

Dr. Kaku: After WWII, the introduction of cheap oil created the suburbs and collapsed the inner city. However, in the future, if we have a hydrogen economy, then hydrogen will replace oil at the gas pumps or the refueling station. When the oil-fired car was first introduced, critics claimed that car accidents would engulf cars in flames and that we would have to have a gas pump at every corner. The critics were horrified. Both horrible predictions have come to pass. The same applies to a hydrogen economy. Hydrogen is volatile and car accidents with hydrogen cars could be fatal. But we're used to that idea now, and we may have to have electric refueling pumps everywhere, but we already have that in an oil economy. So the suburbs will still exist, even if we gradually convert to a solar/hydrogen economy. But I fear it is a race against time. On one hand, time is running out. Oil cannot last forever. In the future, oil prices will skyrocket as cheap oil becomes rare. Plus the earth is heating up in a very dangerous way. So it is a race against time to see whether we can convert to a solar/hydrogen economy before the economy and the weather collapse.

Jon horvat: What do you think of harnessing the power of the heat hidden beneath the surface of the Earth? Is this the future of power? Australia has some projects like this, similar to something I thought of when studying Stirling engines.

Dr. Kaku: Geothermal power is a definite possibility for the future. However, not every area of the world is suitable for geothermal plants. I personally believe that we will need an energy mix for the future. Unfortunately, oil is quite convenient and is packed with energy and is extremely difficult to replace. Therefore, I think we should investigate all possible avenues to fuel our post-petroleum era. Some people claim that we will always discover new deposits of oil. However, we will have to discover a new Saudi Arabia every 10 years to meet the energy demand of China and India and the rest of the world. That is impossible. Therefore, we are forced to look for every possible avenue for energy, including geothermal power.

Rhaomi: Do you think humanity will ever be able to expand beyond Earth, to other planets or other star systems?

Dr. Kaku: Yes. However, it will be more expensive than most people realize. To put a pound of anything into near orbit around the Earth costs $10,000 per pound. That is the cost of gold. Imagine John Glenn made out of solid gold, and you know the cost of putting John Glenn into orbit. Imagine all the astronauts made out of solid gold, including their spaceships, and then you understand why each shuttle mission costs half a billion dollars. To go to the moon would require several hundred thousand dollars per pound. To go to Mars would require several million dollars per pound. The space elevator, if it can be created, might reduce costs by a factor of 1000, making outer space accessible for the first time in history. But nobody knows for sure if we can create a space elevator. I personally believe that in the future we should become a 2-planet species. We should inhabit the Earth and another spare planet in case we botch up one of them. But this is centuries away. To terraform Mars would require hundreds of years of Martian exploration. So the colonization of outer space, I think, is inevitable but is centuries to millennia away.



Laos: Dr. Michio Kaku, Do you feel that despite advancements by the time we reach 2057 maybe even 2107 it is possible for Robotics to go beyond us and control us, and overcome us. Or do you feel that they always must be under human control with human interaction in order to work

Dr. Kaku:Computer power based on silicon will flatten out after 2020. But let's assume that a new generation of computers continues the expansion of computer power. Then it is certainly possible that one day our machines will become smarter than us. Right now, our most advanced robots have the intelligence of a cockroach. A retarded cockroach. A stupid retarded cockroach :-) They can barely walk across the room without gouging the furniture. However, in the coming decades, it is possible that our robots will become as smart as a mouse, then as smart as a rabbit, a dog, and a cat, and eventually a monkey. When our robots become as smart as a monkey, they could become dangerous. They may have goals of their own, and murderous thoughts. I personally believe that we should put a chip in their brains to turn them off when they become that dangerous.

However, in the far future, perhaps within a century or two, we have another option which is merging with our robot creations. This means having superhuman capabilities by merging carbon and silicon technologies. Some people may find it repulsive that one day part of our bodies may become robotic. However, what is the alternative? The alternative could be death because our bodies wear out. In the future, people may voluntarily decide to enhance their bodies using biotechnology and computers, and they may decide to become immortal. So immortality is not possible in the near future but it is, I think, an option in the more distant future as we master the technology of enhancing the power of the human body. But remember this decision has to be voluntary.

Rhaomi: Do you think China will be able to survive its explosive economic, industrial, and population growth?

Dr. Kaku: Historically, one of the main problems of China is warlordism. Throughout Chinese history there has always been the Emperor, but many rebellions take place, creating chaos and warlordism. This is what the Chinese government fears the most. However, I think the current government is very wise to concentrate on economic development without beating their chests, without developing a super-powerful military. So far, the Chinese leadership has decided that peaceful methods and only a self-defense force is the best path toward modernization. But in the future, we face a problem and that is if every Chinese wants to live like the Americans they see in Hollywood movies, it would put a vast strain on the resources of the Earth. There are not enough hamburgers, French fries, oil and automobiles for all the Chinese and the Indians to live like middle class Americans. Therefore, in the future, I think we have to reinforce the idea that developing nations and people in the developed world should conserve their resources and their energy, or else we may exceed the carrying capacity of the planet Earth.

rythomas505: Michio I couldn't help but notice a strong case towards medical insurance in Part 1. Isn't it a little inhuman to offer the most advanced medical care to the richest people? You would think with the advancements you could generate a more efficient and cheaper form of medicine.

Dr. Kaku: In the series we wanted to present the fantastic opportunities of future technologies without glossing over the potential social problems. Therefore, we decided to focus on medical insurance only because it was one of many challenges created by biotechnology. For example, in the future, genetic enhancement may become a possibility and some people fear that we may have a genetic divide. Some people might be rich enough to enhance their children to become smarter, stronger, and more beautiful than others. So we might have a genetic apartheid in the future. The insurance sequence in the series was only meant to alert the audience to a host of ethical problems posed by these fantastic new technologies.

scshute: Dr. Kaku, will there even be such a concept as "privacy" 50 years from now, or is that going to be as quaint as the horse and buggy? And what will be the consequences of this on our society?

Dr. Kaku: When George Orwell wrote the novel 1984, he feared Big Brother. Today we know that Big Brother is not the problem. The real problem is "Little Brother." Thousands of nosy busybodies, neighbors, as well as criminals and identity thieves are the real problem. For example, in the future tabloid journalists will go to barbershops to get all the hair from celebrities to analyze their genes for embarrassing genetic defects. In the future, everybody will try to gain access to other peoples' genomes because we are curious about their genetic history. With computers, we will have chips scattered by the billions in our clothing, furniture, and walls, but we will have the capability to shut them off. Privacy per se is not the problem. We will be able to shut off our cell phones, our iPods, our GPS systems, etc. The problem is that busybodies and criminals want to follow the trail left by our computer imprints to perhaps get "dirt" on our past or steal our identity. I personally believe that we should pass stronger laws against identity theft and criminal computer hacking, but unfortunately there will always be an arms race between citizens and busybodies and criminals.

Discovery: Dr. Kaku, thank you for being here tonight, and for sharing your insights. Do you have any final comments to add, before we have to close?

Dr. Kaku: Our future is not yet written. We have within ourselves the democratic power to mould this technology in any way we desire. I am a scientist. We scientists create these wondrous technologies, hoping that they will elevate the human condition. However, ultimately it is the people who will decide how this technology is used and this will be done democratically. In the future, we will have the power of a Greek god the power over life, the power to animate the inanimate, but will we have the wisdom of Solomon to go with the power of a god? This is where you, the audience, comes in. You will decide democratically how this technology will mature in the coming decades. This is your job.

A production of LiveWorld, Inc.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.




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