Monday, January 30, 2012

Physics of the Future

Whilst researching The Universal Machine I read Michio Kaku's Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100. I'm not usually a big fan of futurology; for example, Ray Kurzweil's pronouncements I find ludicrous. However, I really enjoyed Kaku's book and agree with most of his predictions. I like the way he divides his predictions into three categories: the near, middle and far future; and that he uses this framework to provide a level of certainty for the predictions. We can be certain of near future predictions, like driverless cars, because they are already in the research labs and are be tested on the roads. We can be reasonably certain of the middle future predictions because they represent reasonable progress from near future developments. However, we can't be very sure of far future predictions (about 100 years out) because we do not know what scientific breakthroughs there will be in the meantime. Nobody in 1910 predicted the Internet. The last two chapters of The Universal Machine deal with the future, but unlike Physics of the Future, I restrict myself to the impact of the computer, whereas Kaku's book is more wide ranging. I highly recommend this book.