IDEA FRIDAY: The Future is Coming and It Wants You To Spend Your Vacations IN YOUR MIND

As a Frequent Flyer of the Express-Way of the Destinations of the Mind, on board the Boeing 787 known as Imagination, Dreamliner all the way, I cannot begin to express the excitement bubbling in me as I scribe this piece of, which I can only mince words to say, mind-blowing news. But, of course, totally expected; lest I fall off the cliff of semantic rock into the abyss of linguistic nonsense, I shall muster enough reason and all the grammar, rhetoric I know to explicate this wonderful concept, much to the praise, I hope, of the Old Men of Wit and Word, and assuredly, the edification of your minds, dearest readers. Let us begin…

Ooh, if only Marco Polo, that ancient man of the winds who gave us the first travel catalogue would hear this, by God, he would turn in his worldly grave. The holiday of the future, yes, will still offer memories of traipsing along sunny beaches, the blessed feeling of sand between your toes and the tranquil rush of the ocean, not to mention the kiss of the gentle zephyr upon your time-laden cheeks, but there will be one essential difference- drum-roll please…

You won’t have ever actually been away – in fact you might not have even left your home.

Do you realize what this means, my dear Lords and Ladies? I mean, I get excited to no end simply by firing up my neurons in the comfort of my sofa whilst I dream of leisurely walks on the Louvre, or introspective gazes at statues in Rome, aah, holidays in Morocco, bathed in sweet Saffronic atmosphere, reminiscing of an ancient culture, gazing perhaps into the horizon, catching up on my Español. I haven’t even mentioned creative walks in Kent, the garden of England, stumbling upon Stratford-upon-Avon that I may pay homage to the blessed Shakespeare; the dreary and menacing Castles of Scotland, and the eloquent poetic musings after kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland. My heart jumps at the Turquoise blue waters of Santorini, Greece, the radiant moon of Thessaloniki whilst I read epic poetry to my muse and friend, Olga Athanasiadou in the warm shores of Halkidikki. And who doesn’t want to walk among the ancient ruins of Egyptians (hearing the screeching shouts of Tutankhamen), Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), the birthplace of Christianity, to walk where Saint Paul walked, Roman Emperors decreed; fast-forwarding to the Middle East, to learn of Romantic caliphates, watching the Arabian Nights come alive, not to mention to seat quietly by the Sea of Galilee, contemplating the man upon the cross that changed the world. And finally, to lay here back at home where the grass greets your back in humble submission while you stare at the twinkling sky and in the distance you hear the ‘trumpety’ call to the dawn of the elephant as if it calls for a by-gone African Heritage, the thundering roar of the lion tearing through the darkness to usher in the day. Who would not want that? Well, believe or not, technology is going to do that for you, and then some. We have traversed the world in a few sentences at best (my body is all shaken up thinking of it), imagine what you could do with that technology in the comfort of your home, especially the fact that we are living in the introductory stages of the Space Age Tourism, where you could gear up a rocket and presto chango, you’re kicking it in the scarlet party halls of Mars; you might even hook up with an alien, I am just saying, but let’s get back to earth for a moment before I completely float off.

Instead, people will download memories to their brains to make them feel as if they have been on a sun-kissed holiday or a wintery cabin in some obscure woods!

That’s just one of the many realities we could face as we learn to manipulate the human mind and that’s what one of my favorite scientist and physicist Dr. Michio Kaku seems to think. Some people think he’s constantly smoking that crack pipe, but he’s not, the only crack pipe is smoking and getting high with is that of knowledge. I have read his works, and to say the least, I can’t wait for them to perfect suspended animation or any other Life Extending Innovation (LEIs).

Dr Kaku is has world renown for his expertise in theoretical physics and being a popularizer of hard-core science for the general masses, along with the likes Brian Green, Neil degrasse Tyson – his previous books have dealt with topics such as parallel universes and the cosmos. In fact, my exquisite readers, I am working on grand-unified theories that explain the origin of the universe with a hint of philosophical and religious connotations. It’s exciting work, I should quip, just wanted segue that, but let’s continue…

His latest book, The Future of the Mind, takes a look at how rapid advancements could bring about humongous changes in how we understand – and use – our brains in the next 50 to 100 years.

His theories on the future of the mind are wide-ranging, from the possibilities of telepathy to controlling ‘programmable matter’ with our thoughts solely.

At times, his opinions sound purely like science fiction – but he’s convinced that these are developments we’ll see not just in the distant future, but by the end of the century. I believe that there is nothing like science fiction, huh! The word itself is oxymoronic, might not be ‘oxy’.

Of particular interest is the ability to implant memories. We have this in Sci-Fis, haven’t we?

‘First of all, someone goes on vacation before you, and pleasant memories such as walking on the seashore and picking up rocks are put on a disc,’ Dr Kaku elaborates.

‘Then they’re uploaded into your own mind; relax, and there you are at the beach.

‘Feel the wind at your face, hear the sound of the waves, all the sensations – you’ll have a memory of a very nice walk on the beach in some exotic location, that’s what this person before you felt. But, Dr.Kaku, emotion is felt variably, sometimes such scenery could cause a completely opposite sensation to the First-Experiencer for a lack of a better word, what do you do then? I could probably off several explanations, but I must serve them in my mind only.

‘These things are within the realms of possibility – it’s only a matter of time.’

All this will be made possible by significant advancements in our understanding of the brain.
Did you know as Dr Kaku points out, that we have learned more about the brain in the last 15 years than we have in the rest of human history?

And crucially, our knowledge of the map of neural connections in the brain, known as the CONNECTOME, is rapidly ameliorating. This is courtesy to machines such as MRI scanners that can see which parts of the brain light up as a person performs different activities.

‘In the short term, we’re going to be able to connect our minds to computers, so that we’ll be able to control exoskeletons,’ he said. The Rise of the Cyborg- advancing the Transhuman agenda all the way to its logical end-point, seriously, we can already control bionic limbs with our minds, hello!

‘We’ll be able to perform primitive forms of telepathy, we’ll eventually record memories, and then Alzheimer’s patients will be able to push a button and memories will flood in.

‘Beyond that, the Internet will be replaced by the “Brain-net”, where you can convey emotions and memories rather than just text.’ Whoa, so I can remind my ex-girlfriend of the great times we had before she went and ruined it by getting a cat, awesome! Yeah, but am probably guessing, there’s going to be a pass-protection schema a foot!

Further into the future, probably the 22nd century, we could control surrogate robots on alien worlds with our minds, so we can explore space without physically having to go anywhere, according to Dr. Michio.

‘Maybe aliens have already done this, and we’re walking into the middle of an interstellar system where people commute regularly to planets and stars, and we’re too stupid to know it,’ he said. A whole new topic, yeah, they do exist, I and a bunch of other beyond-earthly inclined folk think so, too.

Of telepathy, Dr. Kaku says we can already take someone who’s totally paralyzed, hook them up to a computer, and allow them to send messages on the internet.

The future has it that you could ‘walk into a room, mentally turn on the lights, internet, answer emails, call up for a movie. Indeed the computer mouse will gradually be phased out. This will be made possible thanks to programmable matter – the vision of creating miniscule little dust particles with the power of a PC, known as CATOMS, which can alter their electric charge and be re-grouped – all by our minds. At the moment we are ‘nowhere near getting down to a grain of sand,’ but ‘Michy’ insists this can be handled in the future, way-to-go, Kaku!

‘In principle, in the future – mid-century – when you walk into a room, you’ll mentally control all computers which are invisible – like Harry Potter. Alright, Doctor you are just trying to get me fired, I am using all measurable amount of strength right now to not start talking about Harry Potter, and his little wand, not to mention Ms.Granger, my delicious little genius! For those who have no idea what we are talking about, I suggest an omnibus of Potter, Rowling-yourself! Or better yet, let the good doctor tell us:

‘What he does with his wand is rearrange matter so one object turns into another.

‘That’s the goal of programmable matter, to have the ability like a magician. By late in this century, we might have full power.’ (Mouth gasping) SO YOU MEAN I can own my own wand?!

He added: ‘someone from the outside watching us would think we’re sorcerers.’ I am so having an Albus Dumbledore moment right not, three cheers for Gryffindor!

Advancements in brain manipulation have important moral implications in the future, too, Dr.Kaku thinks. Yeah, sure, the line between progress and morality is imbued with murkiness at best.

‘[You could] fire a gun and record that, and insert it into an innocent person’s brain so he thinks he fired a gun when he didn’t.’ Let me bring down to our situation, imagine if our corrupt policemen here in Kenya could do that, ooh the horror!

Dr. Michio says it will be entirely possible that we will one day be able to upload entire skills into a person’s brain. So, I don’t have to spend all that time at a Shaolin Temple, or enroll at Ninja School, let’s face it, I could be Bond, James Bond or Batman!

To become a doctor, for instance, someone could have all the relevant medical terminology and procedures uploaded into their mind. However, he does not think this will make education obsolete, as people will still need to learn how to use this information.

‘If you want to be a great chess player, learning the moves of chess is not enough,’ he said.

‘You have to chew on it; you have to regurgitate games of the past.

‘In the future, you’ll be able to learn the basic rules of calculus, but if you think “what does it mean” and “how can I apply this in new situations”, then you have to chew on it, and that you have to do yourself.’

Alas, if all of this sounds a bit daunting, Kaku-sama reasons we may be able to look for guidance not on Earth – but in the discovery of intelligent races elsewhere in the cosmos who ‘mentally communicate’ with each other.

‘Some of my friends who listen for messages think [first contact] will happen in the next few decades,’ he said.

Although Dr. Kaku thinks that estimate is a bit soon, it is possible that if contact is made, a race could be an ‘alien consciousness’ rather than a physical being like humans, and he does not necessarily think they will be dangerous.

That itself brings an implication that they may be more like the ‘Borg in Star Trek’, where people are all linked to a single consciousness.

All these advancements, but until then, we’ll have to make do with downloadable holidays, and then some!


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