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Michio Kaku on The Singularity, Shape-Shifting, and Sexism in Science

Theoretical Physicist Michio Kaku is featured in a new series of videos at Big Think…

Q: Do you believe in the coming singularity

Q: What are some futuristic inventions that we’ll see In our lifetime?

A Brief History of Sexism in Science

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

3 Comments on Michio Kaku on The Singularity, Shape-Shifting, and Sexism in Science

  1. Although The Singularity is an interesting concept and is something that tickles by SF funnybone in the same way that FTL travel does, I am still not convinced that something like this will happen or if it’s even possible. Will computers become so powerful one day that a “spark” ignites their consciousness? Is this what happened with human beings via evolution or is there more to it than mere brainpower — like software? Even if computers become as powerful as the human brain, who will write the AI software to at least give them a rudimentary intelligence? Will this be enough for these aware computers to then start designing their own successors?

    Too many unknowns.

  2. Moore’s Law has very little to do with any upcoming technological singularity, mainly because Kaku is right: we will be running into the atomic limits of silicon shortly. But though silicon-based computing will still be around for some time, advanced computing will almost certainly be completely photonic and quantum in nature–and, at the current speed of development, the first commercially viable qubit-based processors should be available within ten years, maybe fifteen at the outside. Much as many people do, Kaku believes that Moore’s Law is tied to a specific platform–in our present case, silicon transistors–but the Law is more about the doubling of computation power than it is about any particular means of computation.

    And even if quantum computers become powerful enough to put the combined number-crunching ability of every computer currently in existence into a sub-$1000 desktop box, that means precisely nothing to Digital Intelligence. Sure, I like stories in which the Web becomes spontaneously self-aware–but such an event is extraordinarily unlikely. Giant piles of data just do not become self-aware. It’s much more reasonable to think that an AI application of some kind (a natural-language interpreter, for instance) could be led to self-awareness or its intellectual evolution could be guided in an information-rich environment–and that process has absolutely nothing to do with Moore’s Law. More powerful processors may be necessary for greater-than-human intelligence, sure, but self-awareness has nothing to do with how many FLOPs a processor can handle and everything to do with the code running on that processor.

  3. joshua corning // October 13, 2010 at 6:58 pm //



    I am pretty sure today an average google server farm can process as much information as a human brain can.

    Michio Kaku is off on his human equivalent computer intelligence by about 80 years.


    Will this cause a “singularity”?


    Who knows.


    Will you have a car that can drive itself?


    Yes in less then 5 years.

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