Friday, March 18, 2011

Michio Kaku sees the future


Sometimes you see the future and it works.  Not so for certain book reviewers of The New York Times.
Dr. Michio Kaku has released a new book titled, Physics of the Future.  In it, he explains what may lurk on the horizon for humankind, such as innovations like tripled lifespans and robots.  Oh yes.  Many, many robots.  Dr. Kaku is refreshingly open-minded in comparison to many of his scientific colleagues while also being bravely outspoken.  Subjects such as The Singularity and UFOs are far from taboo with him.  No wonder I like him.

Speaking of The Singularity, Kaku's book (I have not read it yet, only speaking in terms of the NYT review) sounds as if it is in concordance with much of what Ray Kurzweil has been saying.  Imagine a future where contact lenses over your eyes connect you to the Internet.  When you see someone, their information will scroll up via augmented reality, telling us whatever we need to know about them.  Nanotech robots will perform surgery in a far more efficient manner than human cutters ever might.  
Nevertheless, the future is not without its impending crises.  Kaku states that Global Warming will indeed be an issue and perhaps even more frightening, Islamic extremists may want to force the world back "a millennium" as they have no intention of living in the 21st Century.  Kip Haggis will probably lead the charge.  Then there are all the nasty implications of what happens when the amazing technology and innovations of the future are combined with good ol' human greed and aggression.  

While those factors will no doubt bring their serious consequences with them, I find Kaku's future far less dismal and lugubrious than the absolutely dreadful manner in which NYT reviewed the book.  The critic, some guy by the name of Dwight Garner, snootily posits at length about Kaku's prose style and just how insufferably dry it is.  Case in point: "Physics of the Future has few sentences so bad that you can tweezer them, like splinters from your toe, and put them on display. But there’s barely an original turn of phrase in the book’s nearly 400 pages." 
My field of academic expertise is English.  No one appreciates a beautifully constructed sentence or someone demonstrating command of the language more than me.  But that is not why I would read Michio Kaku.  Kaku is not a creative writer and there is no reason he we should expect that from him.  What I want to read is just where one of the world's foremost scientists foresees human society being in the future.  If I want style, I'll read Kerouac and Burroughs. Criticisms of style in this case are irrelevant and at the hand's of Garner, quite condescending.     
I guess this guy couldn't comprehend the science so he fell back to the only arena he felt comfortable in.  Hey, his email address is out there somewhere.  I say it's National "Spam A Snob" Day.


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