When I told my associate, Patrick Mannion, that we had signed up Dr. Michio Kaku to be one of the Keynote Address speakers at the Embedded Systems Conference Silicon Valley (April 26-29 in San Jose), his reaction was, “Are you kidding? He's one of my heroes!” The reaction from Patrick, who typifies an ESC attendee, told me that we had hit a home run with this speaker. Dr. Kaku is a theoretical physicist, a best-selling author, and a TV star.
Now flash forward to a few days ago, when Patrick and I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Kaku, brief him on ESC, and discuss his keynote, amongst other subjects. I have to tell you, this guy is good. But I guess it should come as no surprise. He informed us that his new TV show, Physics of the Impossible on the Science Channel, is currently the highest rated show on the Science Channel.
We met in his classroom at City College in New York City. No surprise that his classroom is a planetarium.
He allowed us to videotape our discussions. First, we talked about his Keynote Address. Here, think StarTrek, Terminator, the end of Moore's Law, etc. Dr. Kaku's vision of what the world will look like 10 to 20 years from now is really fascinating. At first, I smirked and said, “That would be nice, but not likely.” Then, listening to him for a while, it was clear that all his visions were based on facts. It might sound like science fiction, but when you peel away the layers that are needed to turn fiction into reality, it's really not that much of a stretch.
For example, the Smart Bathroom, and how that will allow us to perform our own MRIs. How our mirrors can read our breath and determine our health, and so on. He also made a case for why computers will go away, and I have to agree with that one. The successor to silicon? Silicon Valley becoming part of the Rust Belt.
I asked him what a youngster should be studying if they wanted to capitalize on future technologies. His response was quantum physics and bio-engineering. No surprises there, except when he started to explain how we'll be reverse engineering the brain.
How about security? As you would expect, he said that physicists will at the forefront with the technologies needed to take us safely into the future.
Finally, I asked about the relationship between quantum physics and traditional electrical engineering. It started to get interesting at this point, as he tried to explain how 2 + 2 likely equals 4, but not definitely. It brought us down the path of parallel processing, even multi-core microprocessors. The result (happily) came down to the fact that programmers have to take advantage of the available hardware to lead us into the future.