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The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest To Understand, Enhance and Empower the Mind Hardcover – 25 Feb 2014


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The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest To Understand, Enhance and Empower the Mind + Physics of the Future: The Inventions That Will Transform Our Lives + Parallel Worlds: The Science of Alternative Universes and Our Future in the Cosmos
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (25 Feb. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846147670
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846147678
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.5 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,847 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

[Praise for Michio Kaku]: One of the gurus of modern physics (Financial Times)

Summons up the sheer wonder of science (Daily Telegraph)

About the Author

Michio Kaku is a professor of physics at the City University of New York, cofounder of string field theory, and the author of several widely acclaimed science books, including Hyperspace, Beyond Einstein, Physics of the Impossible, and Physics of the Future.

Customer Reviews

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Brian Clegg TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 Feb. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Physicist Michio Kaku, an expert in string theory, might not seem the obvious person to take us on a tour of what the subtitle describes as ‘the scientific quest to understand, enhance and empower the mind.’ But Kaku is a very experienced science communicator and though I didn’t feel the same deep connection with, and love for, his subject as comes across in his physics-based books, there is certainly a lot to ponder in this reasonably chunky bit of scientific futurology.

Of all the great science popularisers – and I don’t hesitate to put him in that bracket – Kaku is the most deeply immersed in the science fiction tradition. For every example of a scientific idea he has a story to put it into context, which if you like SF, as I do, is a great asset. The only slight problem this makes for is that when Kaku extrapolates a piece of current technology into the future he tends to oversimplify the problems and goes far too far. So, for instance, an experiment where monkeys are led to feel the sense of touch from a remote sensor leads us to Kaku prompting an interviewee to say ‘I think this is the first demonstration that something like the [Star Trek, the Next Generation] holodeck will be possible in the near future.’ This is almost the definition of hyperbole. My suspicion is that physicists make better science fiction writers than futurologists.

Throughout the book we visit different aspects of the brain and the mind and how they might in the future be enhanced. This often involves finding out more about current brain conditions and injuries, as these have frequently resulted in discovering more about the workings of this most remarkable organ. Kaku quotes a mind-boggling example of a patient with a split brain.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. G. Raggett on 13 April 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is something of a ragbag ranging far and wide over neuroscience, consciousness, intelligence, mental illness, mind control, dreams, NDE, robotics/artificial intelligence, aliens and a good deal of futurology. Any one of these topics might have justified a book from this author, but what we get here is mainly a series of superficial commentaries.

As far as any persistent themes can be detected, these seem to revolve round consciousness and the development of robotics/artificial intelligence. The theory of consciousness suggested here is really only half a theory, giving consciousness the function of providing models of the future, without explaining either why such models require consciousness, or how consciousness might arise in the first place.

The exploration of robotics and artificial intelligence is similarly unsatisfactory. The lack of any progress to date in producing properly autonomous robots is detailed. It is noted how the much-hyped Watson computer appears to lack any capacity for appreciating its own sucess, or socialising with the humans around it. Nevertheless, after describing all this, the author still follows the party line of projecting forward to the triumph of AI/robotics without much suggestion of why the future will be more successful than the past.

Perhaps these shortcomings are at least partly redeemed by an insight at the very beginning of the book, where it is suggested that the introduction of brain scanning since the 1990s is as significant as the invention of the telescope for the scientific understanding of our world.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Erin Britton on 31 Mar. 2014
Format: Hardcover
In The Future of the Mind, Michio Kaku (author of the hugely impressive Physics of the Future and Physics of the Impossible amongst other popular science titles) provides an always interesting and frequently astounding insight into the work of the scientists around the world who are revolutionising the way we think about the human brain and thus, in turn, the way we think about ourselves.

The first third of The Future of the Mind is a highly philosophical section examining the mind itself and the concept of consciousness. Kaku states that the two greatest mysteries in all of nature are the mind and the universe and that their incomprehensibility is not the only link between the two. There are apparently 100 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, roughly the same as the number of neurons in the human brain. Kaku suggests that you may well have to travel twenty-four trillion miles, to the first star outside our solar system, to find an object as complex as the brain. For this reason, it should come as no surprise that developing an actual scientific understanding of the nature, purpose and functioning of the brain has proved just as difficult and time-consuming as journeying into space.

Kaku discusses the development of the various technologies (from MRI to PET, ECOG, DTI and other acronyms along the way) that slowly opened up the world of the mind and allowed for the gradual mapping of mind/body function and thought processes. The explanations of these technologies are necessarily quite complex but Kaku breaks the detail down well and uses clear illustrations to aid understanding. He also offers a physicist’s perspective on consciousness and creates an interesting layered definition of the concept that includes plants and the animal kingdom as well as humans.
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