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March 22nd, 2011
Do not rage against the machine. Embrace the machine.
That is the core message of Michio Kaku's "Physics of the Future." Despite its title, the book is not so much about physics as it is about gadgets and technology, described by Mr. Kaku—professor, blogger and television host—on a wide-ranging tour of what to expect from technological progress over the next century or so.
Much of the terrain Mr. Kaku surveys will be familiar to futurists, but less technically oriented readers are likely to find it fascinating—and related with commendable clarity. The changes that Mr. Kaku expects range from the readily foreseeable to the considerably more esoteric.
Augmented reality—in which useful data overlay what we see with our eyes—already exists in rudimentary form on smartphones, but Mr. Kaku predicts a time, only a decade or two away, when a much denser information stream will be fed directly to our retinas by contact lenses or optical implants. Want to fix a car, perform emergency surgery, or prepare a gourmet meal? The app will tell you what to do—and guide your work. Have trouble learning a foreign language? Expect a useful universal translator to do the work for you. And the ability to connect computers directly to human nervous systems will drastically improve the lives of those who are paralyzed, blind or deaf—as it is already beginning to do. Eventually, we may know the sort of virtual worlds illustrated in science-fiction novels like Greg Egan's "Permutation City."
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