If you want to send your mind reeling with ideas for cool sci-fi stories, listen to Michio Kaku for a few minutes. The futurist, a colleague of Stephen Hawking, is one of the sharpest and most imaginative minds in the field today, and it’s easy to burn through hour after hour listening to interviews and lectures from the man. A sci-fi fan, Kaku frequently references films like The Matrix and Total Recall to get ideas across quickly and paints a future more fantastic than anything seen in those movies.
Kaku always has some exciting new idea to share, and one of his more fantastic notions, which he recently shared on the YouTube BigThink channel, involves leaving our corporeal forms behind as we explore space via laser beam as disembodied signals that take control of superhuman bodies on other planets and even the vacuum of space.
“Ghostbrains traveling space by laser beam!” sounds like the declaration of either a madman or a genius, but Kaku argues that the technology to do this, while still one or two centuries away, may be within the realm of mathematical possibility. Barring some miracle breakthroughs in medical science, you and I probably won’t get the chance to send our brains into space, but our great-great grandchildren just might.
As Michio Kaku puts it, it won’t actually be you in outer space, zooming from planet to planet, but a copy of your brain. Your own neurons won’t make the trip, but a clone of your mind will be bouncing around the universe at the speed of light, staying in different bodies for short periods of time, just like “hotel rooms,” as Kaku suggests.
Comic readers may remember a storyline in Alan Moore‘s run on Swamp Thing, wherein the titular character, a copy of a dead scientist, beams his brain signal from planet to planet, inhabiting whatever vegetation he can find there in order to make himself a new body with which to explore his surroundings before beaming on to his next adventure. By condensing a living being down to information, to ones and zeroes, we can imagine it being quite feasible, if not exactly easy, to travel at the speed of thought. Moore himself may have borrowed the idea from an Isaac Asimov story about futuristic space travelers existing as pure energy, Asimov being a favorite author of Kaku’s.
The benefits of traveling like this are, of course, self-evident: a being of pure light does not have to worry about oxygen, water, climate, temperature and physical threats. A human being needs to suit up in a spacesuit, they can’t stay out for too long or they may run out of food and other resources. A being of pure light can zip past just about everything but a black hole, and find a home in a surrogate body light years away.
What stands in the way of this technology? We simply don’t have the capability to store a brain on a CD just yet. Once we can copy a brain down into a disc, we can send the data from relay station to relay station to inhabit robotic bodies during their stay in other star systems.
“Not long ago, Barack Obama announced the allocation of millions of dollars to the ‘Brain Project,'” said entrepreneur Jason Hope “which could be integral in getting us to the future teased by visionaries like Michio Kaku.”
Touching on this and more in an interview at Wired, Kaku discusses differences in Eastern and Western thought in science, pointing out that Western science tends to encourage visionary, creative thought where Eastern science could be a little restrictive. Kaku suggests that reading more science fiction may be integral to building towards the next important developments in science and tech. Before you laugh, remember that the modern smartphone existed as a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy long before it existed in your pocket. Weaving real science with speculative fiction, Kaku has always been one of the most fascinating, exciting and challenging thinkers in any field.
About Author: Amy Taylor is a business and technology writer. Amy began her career as a small business owner in Phoenix, AZ. She enjoys writing about business technology trends. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking with her Alaskan Malamute, Sam.