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In the video, “What does the future look like?”, noted physicist and public speaker, Dr. Michio Kaku, begins his lecture discussing the impact of science, and particularly the field of physics, on innovation and the relationship between the development of technologies and its effects on the world and the human experience in the past, present, and future. He describes scientific innovation in “waves” of human history: the first being steam power, second was electricity, third was high-tech, and the fourth wave still not upon us. However, he theorizes that this fourth wave of scientific innovation will be a combination of biotechnology, artificial intelligence (AI), and nanotechnology. He then proceeds to argue that we are on the forefront of the fourth wave, and that people in the near- and far-future will have a radically different experience with technology then we do so as of this moment.
I agree with Dr. Kaku’s proposal that technology is rapidly evolving, as is our understanding of it and its impacts. According to him, there will be a turning point where sci-fi notions of teleportation, interstellar travel, and the like will soon be reality; and judging from his many points made on the growing field of AI and the advancements in information processing, his theory doesn’t seem as farfetched as I considered prior to watching the lecture. Citing from his book and from now-occurring advancements in technology, Dr. Kaku doesn’t just toss out claims about a future where scientific innovation leads to a world with different approaches to now practiced activities, but supports his claims consistently throughout the lecture.
Dr. Kaku uses the waves of scientific innovation to categorize innovation by historical periods. Specifically, he uses the third, or current, wave of scientific innovation to further illustrate his point on how technology that was available in the 50s and 60s, is now in the palm of our hands, and goes on to use the example of computers being responsible for space flight having less power than our average smartphone, and if that sort of technology can accomplish wonders such as the trips to the moon, then it’s not too out-there to suppose that we’re heading in that same direction right now, and that technology might go so far as to lead us into a future with equal wonders in store for us. To him, cloud computing, which is the storage of information on the internet rather than a computer hard drive, is a stepping-stone into the technology of the future; a future not only five, ten years away, but even a thousand distant years ahead.
Dr. Kaku’s presentation was informative and accurate, as he addressed the various aspects of the fourth wave, such as information processing digitalization, mass customization, and how they all effectively change the way people will approach the world and their surroundings. Even now, things like driverless cars and bitcoin are changing the way we perceive cars or money, and he articulates it well using scientific fact with a touch of humor to engage the audience’s attention. He uses various examples in different periods of human history to demonstrate the evolution of scientific technology, and then goes on to express the applications and implications of such technology in everyday life.
Prior to watching Dr. Kaku’s lecture, I was unaware of how much impact science had on the devices and inventions that’re available everywhere today, and how the technology we use today would’ve been considered revolutionary fifty-years ago, when science was pushing the envelope of progress. Today, scientific progress has reached new heights in fields such as medicine and engineering, for the benefit of people in need of it, and will continue to pursue these ends so long as there is a demand for it.
With this, I personally believe that Dr. Kaku isn’t far-off in his extrapolations of a Star-Trek brighter future ahead of us, filled with new, efficient technologies that could steer us further in the direction of using technology for the betterment of humankind.
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