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Physics of the Future

How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100

By Michio Kaku
21-minute read
Audio available
Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 by Michio Kaku

Physics of the Future (2011) lays out predictions of future technology based on the works and opinions of experts on the cutting edge of physics, genetics, biology and computer science. The author explores some of the hurdles we will have to overcome in order to develop these future technologies, and what fundamental changes we can expect their presence to make on our society.

  • Anyone interested in cutting-edge science
  • Anyone interested in future technologies
  • Anyone interested in the future of humanity
  • Anyone with a great imagination

Michio Kaku, co-founder of the string field theory and professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York, is the author of a number of best-selling books, including Hyperspace and Physics of the Impossible. In addition, he also hosts the Science Channel’s Sci Fi Science: Physics of the Impossible along with two radio programs, Explorations in Science and Science Fantastic.

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Physics of the Future

How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100

By Michio Kaku
  • Read in 21 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 13 key ideas
Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 by Michio Kaku
Synopsis

Physics of the Future (2011) lays out predictions of future technology based on the works and opinions of experts on the cutting edge of physics, genetics, biology and computer science. The author explores some of the hurdles we will have to overcome in order to develop these future technologies, and what fundamental changes we can expect their presence to make on our society.

Key idea 1 of 13

Understanding what we find socially valuable will help us determine the success of future technologies.

Since the dawn of humanity nearly 200,000 years ago, humans have undergone very little evolutionary change. If you were to dress up a caveman in a suit and tie, he would be indistinguishable from other modern human beings. His brain, and therefore his psychology, wouldn’t be much different either; modern humans have the same psychological motivations as our caveman ancestors. 

We call this similarity between the desires of modern humans and our cave-dwelling ancestors the Cave Man Principle. It arises from the fact that our primary goal has always been and will always be to reproduce and pass on our DNA. 

Because humans are such social animals, our reproductive success is closely tied to social status: we desire to attract mates with a high social standing. This desire greatly affects what products we purchase, because the kinds of products we buy tell others about our social standing.

Just as animals put on displays or decorate their dwellings to attract mates, humans show their resourcefulness and social status to prospective partners by purchasing consumer goods with high social value. 

Because of this, technologies that are useful but have little social value don’t become mainstream products. For example, take the pocket protector, a plastic sleeve designed to protect shirt pockets from leaky pens: although the invention itself is novel and useful, it soon became associated with “nerdiness,” making it unpopular. The social stigma of owning one negatively affected one’s social standing, and therefore one’s ability to find a mate. For this reason, pocket protectors find more use in Halloween “nerd” costumes than in the office.

Knowing this, smarter developers will try to ensure that their products have social value, so that they will be more readily purchased by consumers.

The unchanging nature of human desires helps us to make a reasonable prediction about future technologies too: Those that help improve social status will be successful in the market, while those that do not will fail.

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