image edited by Fernando Kaskais
No one knows more about the world of tomorrow than Michio Kaku.
Equal parts theoretical physicist, futurist, and popular science communicator, Kaku studies cutting-edge science and technology in order to understand the future.
A graduate of Harvard University and Berkeley, Kaku has spent 25 years as a professor of theoretical physics at the City College of New York.
His main challenge has been to unite the laws of our universe in a grand “theory of everything” — the same thing to which Albert Einstein dedicated much of his career. Yes, this seems just a little daunting. But Kaku’s foundational contributions to string field theory brought physicists the closest they’ve ever come to actually achieving it.
In short: he’s got real science behind him. Which gives him a unique perspective and background to predict what the future will be like.
Kaku’s Take on Tomorrow
When most people look to the future, they envision a world in which flying cars soar high above us as we edit diseases out of our genes.
But to Kaku, one innovation looms largest, blotting out other sights: drones.
In an interview with Futurism at the World Government Summit last month, the topic dominated the conversation.
Kaku has been warning of the dangers of militarized drone systems for years. The threat of military drones, he says, is absolute. “The only immediate danger is automatic killing machines,” he said.
Those who portend a future filled with Terminator-style robots armed with artificial superintelligence ignore real and imminent dangers. “That’s not going to happen for another hundred years, so I’m not worried,” he said, and
Here’s what should really give us pause, according to Kaku:
We have drones that a human supervises and says, ‘kill that target.’ In the future, the drone will recognize the human form and have permission to kill the target. It may go crazy one day—a mistake, a short circuit could take place—and it just keeps shooting that human form independent of any instructions. Automatic killing machines are the one thing we have to worry about today, not tomorrow. But other than that, we really don’t have to worry about the robots taking over.
Kaku’s Predictions Beyond
Here are some of Kaku’s other predictions on a variety of topics:
- Extraterrestrial Life: “Within this century, we will make contact with an alien civilization by listening in on their radio communications.”
- The Evolution of AI: “Simple tasks done by humans are way beyond what a robot can do. But, as the decades go by, they will become as smart as a mouse, then rat, then a cat, dog, and monkey. By that point, they might become dangerous and even replace humans, near the end of the century.”
- Colonizing Alien Worlds: “We need an insurance policy, a backup plan. The dinosaurs didn’t have a space program, and that’s why they’re not here today. No one’s saying we should leave the Earth and go to Mars, but a settlement on Mars is a definite possibility.”
- Bitcoin: “You cannot stop virtual currency. As far as, ‘what are things worth?’ Things are worth whatever your willing to pay for it….so it’s gambling. It’s speculation. As far as my personal attitude towards it, it’s not productive. Bitcoin is not a productive industry.”
- Driverless Cars: “As transportation is digitized in the next decade, driverless cars, guided by GPS and radar, will share our highways. ‘Traffic accidents’ and ‘traffic jams’ will become archaic terms. Thousands of lives will be saved every year.”