The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind

Michio Kaku. Doubleday, $33 (352p) ISBN 978-0-385-53082-8
In this expansive, illuminating journey through the mind, theoretical physicist Kaku (Physics of the Future) explores fantastical realms of science fiction that may soon become our reality. His futurist framework merges physics with neuroscience to model how our brains construct the future, and is loosely applied to demonstrations that “show proof-of-principle” in accomplishing what was previously fictional: that minds can be read, memories can be digitally stored, and intelligences can be improved to great extents. The discussion, while heavily scientific, is engaging, clear, and replete with cinematic references. Kaku’s claims, however, often lack generalizability: his points about human thought are derived from research studies and patterns that emerge from discrete areas of analysis under highly sophisticated technological surveillance. The place of these esoteric conclusions in the nuanced processes of our daily life is rarely explained. Likewise, each issue raised, while fascinating, is equally fleeting: topics skip from telepathy helmets to cell phone MRIs in just over a page. Legal and ethical complications, too, arise with each predicted advance, though aren’t given the attention they demand. These new mental frontiers make for captivating reading, yet Kaku’s optimism and enthusiasm provides cover for what are mostly overhyped claims. Agent: Stuart Krichevsky. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/16/2013
Release date: 02/25/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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