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Visionary Scientist

I had the occasion to interview and photograph(1) tonight's guest, Dr. Michio Kaku for After Dark back in 2000. It was a crisp September morning, when I dropped by Dr. Kaku's office at City College in New York City, where he has been a professor for the last 28 years. As might be expected, his office was filled with books, papers and journals-it even had a blackboard in it! Here is an excerpt from our interview:

LL: It seems like the future is littered with certain dangers that you outlined in the book (Visions), such as by 2050 there could be self-aware styled robots. You can imagine the Frankensteinian possibilities that they could replace or destroy us.

MK: There's that possibility. There's also a possibility that we may want to merge with them. By the late 21st century we should be able to tinker with not just one gene at a time but hundreds or thousands of genes at a time and we may be able to interface the human brain better than we can today. So it gives us the option of redesigning ourselves or becoming part cyborg.

So we may not want to simply banish robots, we may want to merge with them. That sounds repulsive to a lot of people but I believe in democracy. I think people should democratically vote towards the ends of the 21st century as to how far we want robots to evolve. By this time we should have robots that can move very very fast and may actually be self-aware. They'll have a different architecture than us. They'll probably have silicon consciousness. They'll not be conscious in the way that we are conscious.

I'm not that worried about robots replacing us because I think that by the time our machines become as smart as dogs we should put an Asimov chip in their brain. Isaac Asimov had (written) the three laws of robotics-one being, once robots want to harm people we shut them off.

--L.L.(2)

1. http://archive.coasttocoastam.com/gen/page116.html
2. http://archive.coasttocoastam.com/info/about_lex.html

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