Physicist and highly regarded scientist Dr Michio Kaku was the closing speaker at FNCE, the annual meeting of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Chicago.
He took us on a tour of what the future might hold for medicine – and how what we once thought was science fiction is now becoming reality. Think: intelligent paper, 3D printing, supersonic jets, and flying cars – just like the Jetsons!
Dr Kaku believes that the origin of wealth comes from science and technology. He described four waves of technology:
1. First wave – steam power (1800s)
2. Second wave – electricity age (1929)
3. Third wave – High tech transistors: computers and the Internet
4. Fourth wave – Biotechnology, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence
The “Internet and computers are everywhere and nowhere” nowadays, he said – a bit like electricity is, meaning it’s everywhere, but you can’t see it.
Regardless of this ubiquity, he hypothesized that computers, as we know them, will be obsolete in the future.
We will live in a world of virtual and augmented reality where we can shop and redecorate our homes in augmented reality.
Shopping will be revolutionized with mass-customized production, such as custom clothes and shoes, via 3D printing. We will also have intelligent paper (of any size!) that will be a scroll-out screen from our cell phone.
We will be able to talk to and invite a “robodoctor” in to our homes for a medical consultation. Contact lenses will be the new computers, and we will be able to use them to tell us how many calories are in our food. All, fascinating predictions!
Dr Kaku also predicts that the world will be cheaper, seamless and “better”. Repetitive jobs will be phased out; however, we will still need doctors, lawyers, and plumbers. (He didn’t mention whether we will need dietitians!)
In the transport arena, we will have flying cars, he envisions, that drive and park themselves, as well as supersonic jets that transport us around the world in just a few hours.
In medicine, he talked about liquid biopsies, and toilets (via DNA chips that scan stool samples) that can identify cancers 10 years before they even become a tumour. He also predicted that the word “tumour” would disappear from our vocabulary (let’s hope so!).
Labs are also already growing body organs and mapping the human brain; they have even been able to photograph dreams and memories. To that point, he also predicts that we will be able to send not just messages in the future, but also our emotions. Can you imagine?
Dr Kaku – with a bit of humour – said we were free to ignore his predictions, but also free then to go bankrupt! He also noted that the best way to stay abreast of the future is to talk to your children – they are on top of the latest technology. So very true – we concur.
— By Maree Ferguson
— Edited by Laura Byrne