Theoretical Physicist Michio Kaku predicts future of technology in talk at UT


Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku explains how advancements in technology may serve as the fourth wave of innovation.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Cars that drive themselves, contact lenses that recognize people’s faces, a digital doctor that offers medical advice from a bathroom mirror — all of these technologies and more will be possible in the next 50 years, according to theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. 

Kaku, a theoretical physics professor at The City College of New York, gave a talk Tuesday night in the Student Activities Center about the future of technology and its implications.

“Today I’m going to be talking about the future — your future,” Kaku said. 

Kaku, a co-founder of the branch of physics known as string theory, discussed how science created three distinct waves of innovation in history. 

“We think that the fourth wave will be the combination of artificial intelligence, biotechnology and nanotechnology,” Kaku said. 

Kaku then described the next steps for technology, such as glasses and screens that could create augmented realities for their wearers and identify other people for them instantly. Kaku also predicted future advances, including smartphones that can pay for items by pointing and clicking, as well as toilets that can diagnose cancerous cells 10 years before they form a tumor. 

“The next two big industries to be digitalized are medicine and education,” Kaku said. “You will have more power in your cell phone than a modern university hospital today.”

Despite the rapid advances of technology he predicts, Kaku said humans will continue to hold important jobs in the future.

“Education is the key to the new puzzle,” Kaku said. 

The Distinguished Speakers Committee hosted the talk, which drew hundreds of attendees. Committee Chairwoman Sarah Robinson said the event helped students see science as a field with numerous opportunities.  

“We also want students to see the possibilities of where their education can take them,” Robinson said. “It is important to make the connection between what you are learning and everyday life.” 

Electrical engineering junior Thejas Prasad said he has followed Kaku’s talks since the eighth grade and was amazed to see Kaku in person. Prasad said the technologies mentioned by Kaku will help bring people closer together and foster easier communication.

“There’s a lot to improve on,” Prasad said. “The future is going to be really different from what we see right now. I think it’s important for students to know about the future of technology so that they can understand this change that they’re going to be a part of.”