Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Forecasting The 'Future' By Tapping Into Human Consciousness

Now more than ever before, we have the tools to study the mysteries of consciousness. Memory, dreams, the self are now being examined using high-tech brain scans developed by physicists on the cutting edge of their field.
Dr. Michio Kaku, professor at the City College of New York, is among them. In The Future of the Mind, he gives readers a look at some of the most astonishing research in neuroscience today, and presents a vision of what future innovation might bring. NPR's Arun Rath speaks with Kaku about the advances in technology and our understanding of human consciousness.
On the organization of the brain
We used to think the brain was like a computer. But now we realize that's not true — there's no programming of the brain, there's no windows. And we think the brain is more like a large corporation. ... In a corporation, you have subdivisions that operate independently of the main office. And that's why we have an unconscious mind, because you have to have, for example, emotional reactions to things very quickly.
On what makes human consciousness special
We can imagine things far beyond our body. We can imagine social hierarchies much more complex than what we actually have, and we can simulate the future. And so these are three levels of consciousness. Consciousness-one level is understanding where we are in space. Consciousness two is where we understand our position in society: who's top dog, who's underdog, and who's in the middle. And type-three consciousness is simulating the future ... only humans have this ability to see far into the future. Read More and Listen to the NPR Interview