Yesterday, on March 9, 2020, I attended the campus leadership lecture led by Dr. Michio Kaku. Dr. Kaku is most famous for being a co-theorist of string theory and has also written several best-selling books about physics and the future. Additionally, he also has been in several TV documentaries about his discoveries and even hosts a podcast. Currently, he teaches theoretical physics at City University of New York and I must say, even though I am not good at physics, I would love to be in one of his classes. Dr. Kaku explained things in his lecture that should have been extremely complicated, but he made complex ideas and concepts sound easy to grasp. Dr. Kaku had a sense of humor that was apparent throughout his talk. I was quite surprised about how much of a great personality he has, considering he is so brilliant. The lecture was one of the quickest hours of my life.
I have always been fascinated with the future. What will it be like? Will it be possible to make myself immortal? Will flying cars exist? Can I teleport? As I have gotten older, these questions have frequented my mind less and less. However, Dr. Kaku was the opposite and showed what can be developed and conceptualized with those probing questions. Not only that, but Dr. Kaku expanded outside of the realm of physics and applied his findings and theories to outside sectors, such as healthcare, finance, and the humanities. Hearing Dr. Kaku reaffirm that humanities, reading, and writing will always be important to the professor made me happy because I feel that so many scientists are so quick to dismiss things like that.
Considering history, there have been several identifiable “booms:” the Industrial Revolution, the inventions that came out of the Cold War, the computer boom, the robotics boom, and the ever-looming artificial intelligence (AI) boom. AI and virtual reality (VR) are already prevalent in today’s world, but not in a way that can benefit all of society. For example, most people associate AI and VR with the Oculus Rift or comparable headsets. However, AI and VR can extend into the world of art. Dr. Kaku showed some crude images that had been printed from dreams using modern and seemingly futuristic technology. He extended out simple images by saying that one day, we will be able to record our dreams and watch them in videos the morning after. Continuing off of that, maybe one day, Alzheimer’s patients will be able to have a memory chip in their brains that can help combat the symptoms. There are so many possibilities considering AI, VR, and the future. Hearing someone as well-respected in the field as Dr. Kaku made the child in me excited.
One thing that is drilled into my head as a finance major is risk. We must analyze all risk, where it came from, and how we can get rid of it. I feel like a lot of other people do not consider this, but I was happy when someone decided to ask about the riskiness of having AI and VR controlling our lives and being implemented into our cars and houses. It is a huge invasion of privacy, but Dr. Kaku addressed the question appropriately and mentioned how Big Brother is always watching us. Additionally, he mentioned that like everything else, there is a degree of risk that may not be certain or completely known. That is something that will be better known when it becomes apparent. That information can help combat future risk, although it cannot be fully eliminated. Another thing that I believe could have also been addressed during this question is ethics regarding AI and VR. As Dr. Kaku is such a famous scientist, it would have been interesting to hear what he thinks about the ethics of the government listening in and the little privacy we do have. I do think it was interesting that he did mention that the Internet was never created to be private, though.
Following the lecture, I attended the reception. As expected, there was a very long line to go meet him and of course, it had been a long day for him so there was not any time to ask a question or speak with him. However, being able to have gotten the opportunity to meet someone so respectable is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not only that, but so many scientific things that I have heard have some connection to Dr. Kaku. Hearing him speak reignited the flame in the child inside of me and has me considering all the possibilities that come with the future. One of Dr. Kaku’s books is next on my reading list. I am also thrilled that Miami University offers us opportunities like this to engage with leaders in their respective fields through lecture series like these. Prior to this, all the on-campus lectures I had attended had been through Farmer, since those tend to align more closely with my interests. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how applicable another field could be to my life. In the future, I plan to look more into the lecture series on campus to see who else is speaking.