Welcome to Mogul's new interview!
We're over the moon (haha! :)) to share our conversation with Dr. Michio Kaku, a world-renowned physicist who has a talent for making scientific concepts accessible to everyone. Dr. Kaku is a celebrated Futurist, the Co-Founder of String Field Theory (more about that below), Professor of Physics at the City University of New York and Host of the Exploration and Science Fantastic Live radio talk shows.
A multi-time best-selling author, Dr. Kaku is in the news a lot right now for his new book, "The Future of Humanity." From Space Travel to Life on Mars, Robots, the Fountain of Youth and more: what's possible and what's hype? What is Dr. Kaku most excited about and do any of these concepts scare him? What advice does Dr. Kaku have for us as we enter a new era? Find out the answers to all these questions and more in our interview:
Here are Dr. Kaku's #Takeaways:
(We know that this article is long but Dr. Kaku shared so much information that we wanted to include as much as possible. He is amazing and we hope that you enjoy learning from Dr. Kaku as much as we did!!)
Jessica Lipps (Interviewer): Let's start at the beginning. Where were you born?
Dr. Michio Kaku (Guest): I was born in San Jose, CA which is now the heart of Silicon Valley.
Jessica: Does your name have a meaning?
Dr. Kaku: Michio means 'the way' or 'the path.' Kaku means 'happiness will come.' So my name means: the road that brings happiness and enlightenment.
Jessica: How did you discover science?
Dr. Kaku: When I was 8 years old, something happened that changed my life!
-Everyone was saying that a great scientist had died. The evening newspaper printed a picture of his desk. The caption read: "Unfinished manuscript from the greatest scientist of our era.”
-I said: “What? Unfinished? Why couldn’t the greatest scientist of our era finish this book?”
-That scientist was Albert Einstein and the book was "The Theory of Everything.” Einstein wanted an equation that would allow him to read the mind of God.
-I thought: Wow, that’s for me! That’s what I want to work on! I want to work on The Theory of Everything!
Jessica: Your newest book is called "The Future of Humanity." Why this book and why now?
Dr. Kaku: Because we are entering a new era of space exploration!
-In the 1960’s, rockets were very expensive. Prices have been dropping, so it’s a whole new ballgame. Now, to be one of the first tourists in outer space, a round-trip ticket will cost about $200,000 per person.
-Rockets have become more powerful and reusable. To boost a rocket, it will take just a few minutes to reach space. Going to the Moon will take about 3 days, so you can go on Monday and come back by Friday. A round-trip mission to Mars will take about two years.
-We are returning to the Moon in December 2019. An unmanned probe, the Orion Spacecraft, will orbit the Moon. Just a few years later, humans will go back to the Moon after a 50-year gap.
-Amazon wants to have a delivery system to the Moon in the same way that they have one on the planet Earth. So Lunar Tourism is a possibility. Already people are thinking about taking a honeymoon on the Moon! Things that were impossible during the ’60's are now being talked about today!
-Mars is not the Earth. It’s very cold. We’re going to have to heat up the planet. One proposal is to use satellites that can beam solar energy to melt the ice caps so that Mars becomes more Earth-like. We want to make Mars more Earth-like so that it’s not such a frozen desolate landscape.
-We will have genetically modified plants grow in a carbon dioxide rich atmosphere that is cold. We can do this! We will create a whole fleet of farms on Mars to create agriculture on Mars.
ON ROBOTS AND MARS:
-Who is going to do the heavy labor of building gigantic space ports on Mars? That’s a lot of work! That’s where robots come in!
-Robots are very good at repetitive tasks. If something is ‘prefab,' it’s repetitive. Robots can start to build prefabricated buildings.
-The Martian soil can be used to make bricks. So scientists are working out the engineering of what it would take to build a city on Mars.
-The first city on Mars won’t be so impressive. We will have underground caves and lava tubes to protect us against radiation and other elements.
-But who wants to be underground all the time? We want to build domed cities and that means using nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.
-So Robots will be useful to do the heavy lifting to create cities on Mars.
Jessica: I read in your book that when you travel to Mars, muscular atrophy takes place and you must exercise for two hours a day to combat it. When you arrive on Mars you face increased radiation, which leads to a greater risk of cancer, and are subject to massive dust storms. Frankly, after reading that, I'm not sure that Mars is for me! (laughter)
Dr. Kaku: Mars is not for everyone but already people have volunteered. Even for a one-way mission!
Jessica: Do you want to go to Mars?
Dr. Kaku: I don’t think that space tourism will happen anytime soon but eventually it will happen.
Jessica: Would you advise your children to go to Mars?
Dr. Kaku: I’d say: "Realize that it’s still experimental." And, as Elon Musk said, he wants to go to Mars but not on impact. In other words, he doesn’t want to crash land on Mars! (laughter)
Jessica: Do you think that we will live on planets other than Mars?
Dr. Kaku: After Mars, some people think that Titan, a moon of Saturn, is a possibility. Titan has a lot of methane gas and could become a gas station in outer space!
-My colleague Stephen Hawking says that the next target is the Stars. And Proxima Centauri, the closest star, has an Earth-size planet going around it, so it’s already made for us!
ON ROBOTS AND INTELLIGENT THOUGHT:
-We are talking about new industries, jobs and possibilities.
-For example, your car will become a robot. You will talk to your car and argue with your car and your car will park itself. So the robotics industry will be bigger than the automobile industry and eventually absorb it.
-For the short term, we will have jobs to repair, design, fix and maintain robots.
-Long term, however, they could start to turn on us.
-What is the tipping point? It’s when machines become self-aware. Robots don’t know that they are robots. They are adding machines. They add very fast, giving the illusion that they are thinking. But once they become self aware then we have to put a chip in their brain to shut them off if they have murderous thoughts.
Jessica: Will we always know when they are having murderous thoughts?
Dr. Kaku: I think so. Right now, robots are as smart as a cockroach. However, I can see a time when they are as smart as a mouse, then a rabbit, cat and a dog. But dogs aren’t sure of what a human is. They think that humans are top dogs. But monkeys: monkeys know that they are monkeys and not humans. So when robots become as smart as monkeys, that’s when we have to put a failsafe system on them to make sure that they can’t take over.
-But that’s probably not until the end of the Century, so we have plenty of time to prepare for that!
Jessica: While we’re talking about entities that could take over, what are your thoughts on aliens and other life forms?
Dr. Kaku: Some people that think that aliens exist and are signaling us, but we don’t know. We debate that question.
-There are probably a billion (not millions, but a billion!) Earth-like planets in our galaxy, in our backyard!, having perhaps oceans, microbial life and maybe even advanced life.
-Why don’t they visit us? Well, my attitude is: if you go in a forest and meet a squirrel or a deer, do you talk to them? If you did, after a while you'd get bored because they don’t talk back to you.
-That’s why aliens don’t land on the White House lawn - we are not very interesting to them.
ON THE FUTURE OF HUMANS:
-It used to be nonsense or hokum to talk about longevity and the Fountain of Youth. Now we scientists are taking it very seriously.
-Since aging is influenced by genes, we’ve isolated many of the genes that control the aging process.
-You take the genes of old and young people and see where the difference is. That’s where aging is concentrated.
-We are now finding those genes and can stop the clock. There is an enzyme called telomerase that allows you to stop the aging process in a cell.
-Telomerase may be one of many enzymes and proteins in a cocktail that could become a fountain of youth.
-It could be that it’s not for us. Maybe our generation is the last to die. But our grandkids may have the option of hitting 30 and simply stopping. They may like being 30 forever.
Jessica: Of all that you address in the book, What excites you the most?
Michio: This is centuries into the future but Warp Drive becomes a possibility.
-Einstein’s theory allows for gateways to other universes. They are called Wormholes. The math and physics are there!
-We don’t know if it’s possible but I think that String Theory will give us an answer: are time machines possible? Is Warp Drive possible? This is what I study!
Jessica: As we look to and prepare for the future, what’s your advice?
Dr. Kaku: If you take a look at the so called 1% that has done very well recently, you realize that it’s actually 30%. 30% have done very well economically. The bottom 70% have either held steady or fallen behind.
-Why? 30% is the number of those who have graduated from college.
-So I say to people: you must graduate from college and understand computers. You don’t have to be a computer whiz or programmer but the jobs of the future will be more technologically advanced.
-Then, in my books, I list some occupations that will flourish in the future. Medicine and biotech, for example. And the arts. Robots cannot create novels, songs or artistic things that enrich our life. Those jobs will still be happening in the future. So I make a list of all the occupations that will not be roboticised.
Jessica: So much is happening that pertains to the future. Is enough ever enough?
Dr. Kaku: I feel like a child in a toy store. Children in a toy store never get enough!
-When I was a kid, all that we could do was dream about: ‘sometime in the future’ we’ll have this and that. Now, we see it! All the things that I dreamed about as a kid are coming to pass.
-And now, kids of today have their dreams and their dreams will be fulfilled!
Find & Follow:
Facebook: @MichioKaku, @JessLipps
Instagram: @Michio_Kaku, @Jess_Lipps
Twitter: @MichioKaku, @JessLipps