Michio Kaku Sketches Technological Wonderland of the Future at SC12

By Ian Armas Foster

November 16, 2012

Imagine a world where a computer chip costs just a penny. They could be embedded anywhere and everywhere, including the wallpaper of your house. Instead of sitting home alone on a Friday night drinking oneself into a stupor, one could simply go to his wall and look up others who are alone looking at their wall on a Friday night in order to find a companion for the night.

Dr. Michio Kaku, celebrity physicist who has written New York Times Bestselling books, Physics of the Impossible and Physics of the Future, talked about the implications of this smart wall and much more in his much-anticipated keynote address at Supercomputing 2012 (SC12) this week in Salt Lake City, where he discussed the huge role that high performance computing will play in the year 2100.

Since the 18th century, science and technology have been key to attaining wealth in this world, Kaku observed. When physicists figured out the laws of thermodynamics and were thus able to calculate the amount of energy and power one could derive from manipulating steam, the Industrial Revolution ensued. The steel mills and railroads that followed generated tremendous revenue, but after too much of that wealth was invested in railroads on the London Stock Exchange, the system ground to a halt in 1850.

Incidentally, in 1850 the Industrial Revolution was just getting underway in the United States. While part of that had to do with the relative youth of the country, an amusing part (in a historical sense anyway) had to do with Britain’s flat refusal to let so much as a blueprint leave their country. It wasn’t until Francis Cabot Lowell returned to America with the technical specifications in his photographic memory that the revolution took off in the US.

Either way, by the time Maxwell’s light equations and Faraday’s force field lines began paving the way for physicists harnessing the power of electricity and magnetism, the United States had clearly made up their deficit from the Industrial Revolution delay. But once again, an unsustainable portion of the ensuing wealth was poured into one thing, in this case the utilities. As a result, the New York Stock Exchange crash of 1929 plunged the US into the Great Depression, Kaku noted.

Physicists, as Kaku continued setting the historical scene, then further manipulated the laws of electricity and magnetism to create machines that could add large numbers together by simply flipping little magnets. These machines were called computers. The led to a third expansion of wealth, a third improper allocation of investments (this time in the housing market), and a third economic collapse.

This is an intriguing and relevant history for one paramount reason: the people in the audience listening to Dr. Kaku talk about the results of the first three technological revolutions will be the people responsible for the fourth. Kaku calls the upcoming 80 years an “era of high technology.” Some may call it the Information Revolution. Whatever the new era happens to be called, advances in supercomputing will drive it.

The benefits as Dr. Kaku predicts them are vast and can be best described in terms of vocabulary that will become obsolete. Cars will be able to drive themselves, essentially eliminating the 30,000 auto accident deaths a year in the United States. As Kaku puts it, the term “car accident” will become passé. In fifty years, the word “traffic” may refer more to the 1960’s musical group than a bottleneck of automobiles.

Like the word “polio,” the word “tumor” could be relegated to a reminder of unpleasant times past, as smart toilets equipped with computer chips hooked up to a supercomputing network analyze DNA for signs of cancerous cells. Destroying those cancerous cells individually through nanotechnology, instead of through brute force chemotherapy could become possible. Perhaps most impressively, MRIs could literally be conducted from a Star Trek-like Tricorder, as chips extend magnetic fields from supercomputers such that they envelop a person like a natural MRI machine.

Further, like society simply accepts running water and electricity as facts of life that need not be mentioned, computers are likely to be accepted a similar fact of life. As computer chips are imprinted onto almost everything, from walls to paper, to clothing, to contact lenses, the entire world becomes, in essence, one large, networked computer.
How will this all happen? Through a system of mass producing computer chips where each chip costs about a penny. While Kaku leaves it somewhat unclear how exactly that will happen (he’s a string theory physicist after all), it is clear that the path is not through silicon. Moore’s Law, the physical constraint which allows chip size to halve every 18 months or so, is slowing down.

That notion led to possibly the most harrowing possibility Kaku brought up: Silicon Valley becoming somewhat of a rust belt in the next 20 to 25 years. However, this should not be news to those in the know. As with previous technological advancements, businesses will have to adapt or be left by the wayside.

Maybe carbon nanotubes will take silicon’s place. Maybe that job falls to quanta. Either way, according to Kaku, the cheapening of these computing resources will lead to a much more automated the needs of society.

Of course, with increased automation comes an anxiety that the automation will replace humans. To a certain extent they will, says Kaku, but not to the extent that many may fear. It is important to remember that computers at their core are highly intricate adding machines. So only those with jobs that are highly iterative and repetitive, accountants for example, may need to worry, he argues.

The marketplace as Kaku sees it is shifting from a commodity-based system to one based in intelligence and creativity. For example, computer hardware can be mass-produced without much human intervention. Software cannot. It requires common sense, intuition, and creativity to produce software. Jobs that require those skills will persist. For the most part, those jobs will require a fair amount of higher education. Those which don’t require common sense, intuition, and creativity—the most boring of desk jobs—will  cease to exist according to Kaku.

An audience member brought up an interesting point during the Q and A session: if we know that this upcoming information revolution will come to a head in 80 years or so, how do we avoid the bubble bursting once again? According to Kaku, the answer lies in changing investment rules to control reckless speculation.

Interestingly, the nature of the oncoming information revolution might actually be able to prevent such unsustainable growth. Today’s predictive analytics are far superior to those of four years ago and may have been able to warn investors when markets become over-heated.

As SC12 wraps up, it is important to remember how key the HPC industry will be in advancing society throughout the next 80 years. Dr. Kaku was preaching to the choir here in his keynote speech, but those songs resonate with scientific and societal reality.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

SCA23: Pawsey’s Mark Stickells on Sustainable Australian Supercomputing

March 17, 2023

“While the need for supercomputing is great, we have, in my view, reached a tipping point,” said Mark Stickells, executive director of Australia’s Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, as he opened his keynote (“Energy E Read more…

Optical I/O Technology Needed for Zettascale, Say Top Chipmakers

March 16, 2023

Optical I/O is being singled out by top companies to push computing beyond exascale and into zettascale. The technology was singled out in a recent speech by AMD CEO Lisa Su as a critical technology to reach zettascale c Read more…

Tasty CHIPS – New MEC Program to Expand US Prototyping Capabilities Gains Steam

March 16, 2023

Sometime later this year, perhaps around July, the Department of Defense is expected to announce the sites and focus of up to nine hubs associated with the Microelectronics Commons (MEC) program. Funded and broadly descr Read more…

2023 Winter Classic: Mentor Interview, HPE

March 14, 2023

In our most recent update, “Triumph and Tragedy with HPL/HPCG”, we detailed how our dozen 2023 Winter Classic Invitational cluster competition teams dealt with their Linpack/HPCG module, mentored by HPE. In this episode of our incredibly popular 2023 Winter Classic Studio Update Show, we... Read more…

Leibniz QIC’s Mission to Coax Qubits and Bits to Work Together

March 14, 2023

Four years after passing the U.S. National Quantum Initiative Act and decades after early quantum development and commercialization efforts started – think D-Wave Systems and IBM, for example – the U.S. quantum lands Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Shutterstock 1679096101

Building a 4x faster and more scalable algorithm using AWS Batch for Amazon Logistics

Amazon Logistics’ science team created an algorithm to improve the efficiency of their supply-chain by improving planning decisions. Initially the algorithm was implemented in a sequential way using a monolithic architecture executed on a single high performance computational node on AWS Cloud. Read more…

 

Get the latest on AI innovation at NVIDIA GTC

Join Microsoft at NVIDIA GTC, a free online global technology conference, March 20 – 23 to learn how organizations of any size can power AI innovation with purpose-built cloud infrastructure from Microsoft. Read more…

Pawsey Supercomputing Targets Detailed Regional Climate Projections

March 13, 2023

The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Australia is putting its shiny new Setonix supercomputer (ranked fourth on the most recent Top500 list) to work on an important climate change research project. The project, led by Jat Read more…

SCA23: Pawsey’s Mark Stickells on Sustainable Australian Supercomputing

March 17, 2023

“While the need for supercomputing is great, we have, in my view, reached a tipping point,” said Mark Stickells, executive director of Australia’s Pawsey Read more…

Optical I/O Technology Needed for Zettascale, Say Top Chipmakers

March 16, 2023

Optical I/O is being singled out by top companies to push computing beyond exascale and into zettascale. The technology was singled out in a recent speech by AM Read more…

Tasty CHIPS – New MEC Program to Expand US Prototyping Capabilities Gains Steam

March 16, 2023

Sometime later this year, perhaps around July, the Department of Defense is expected to announce the sites and focus of up to nine hubs associated with the Micr Read more…

Leibniz QIC’s Mission to Coax Qubits and Bits to Work Together

March 14, 2023

Four years after passing the U.S. National Quantum Initiative Act and decades after early quantum development and commercialization efforts started – think D- Read more…

Intel Hopes to Stop Server Beating from AMD Next Year

March 13, 2023

After getting bruised in servers by AMD, Intel hopes to stop the bleeding in the server market with next year's chip offerings. The difference-making products will be Sierra Forest and Granite Rapids, which are due out in 2024, said Dave Zinsner, chief financial officer at Intel, last week at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom conference. Read more…

White House Budget Request Includes Funding for Leadership-Class Computing Facility

March 10, 2023

The U.S. government is dedicating a record amount of $25 billion as part of the 2024 budget to emerging technologies as the country looks to counter the technology threat from China. The budget includes billions of dollars earmarked to boost the supercomputing infrastructure, semiconductors, and cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing. The technology... Read more…

Inside NCSA’s Nightingale Cluster, Designed for Sensitive Data

March 10, 2023

The emergence of Covid in 2020 saw an explosion in HPC-powered health research. As the pandemic raged on, though, one limiting factor became increasingly clear: Read more…

Top HPC Players: It’s Time to Get Serious About Security

March 9, 2023

Time’s up: nearly everyone agrees it’s about time to become serious about bringing security safeguards to high-performance computing systems, which has been Read more…

CORNELL I-WAY DEMONSTRATION PITS PARASITE AGAINST VICTIM

October 6, 1995

Ithaca, NY --Visitors to this year's Supercomputing '95 (SC'95) conference will witness a life-and-death struggle between parasite and victim, using virtual Read more…

SGI POWERS VIRTUAL OPERATING ROOM USED IN SURGEON TRAINING

October 6, 1995

Surgery simulations to date have largely been created through the development of dedicated applications requiring considerable programming and computer graphi Read more…

U.S. Will Relax Export Restrictions on Supercomputers

October 6, 1995

New York, NY -- U.S. President Bill Clinton has announced that he will definitely relax restrictions on exports of high-performance computers, giving a boost Read more…

Dutch HPC Center Will Have 20 GFlop, 76-Node SP2 Online by 1996

October 6, 1995

Amsterdam, the Netherlands -- SARA, (Stichting Academisch Rekencentrum Amsterdam), Academic Computing Services of Amsterdam recently announced that it has pur Read more…

Cray Delivers J916 Compact Supercomputer to Solvay Chemical

October 6, 1995

Eagan, Minn. -- Cray Research Inc. has delivered a Cray J916 low-cost compact supercomputer and Cray's UniChem client/server computational chemistry software Read more…

NEC Laboratory Reviews First Year of Cooperative Projects

October 6, 1995

Sankt Augustin, Germany -- NEC C&C (Computers and Communication) Research Laboratory at the GMD Technopark has wrapped up its first year of operation. Read more…

Sun and Sybase Say SQL Server 11 Benchmarks at 4544.60 tpmC

October 6, 1995

Mountain View, Calif. -- Sun Microsystems, Inc. and Sybase, Inc. recently announced the first benchmark results for SQL Server 11. The result represents a n Read more…

New Study Says Parallel Processing Market Will Reach $14B in 1999

October 6, 1995

Mountain View, Calif. -- A study by the Palo Alto Management Group (PAMG) indicates the market for parallel processing systems will increase at more than 4 Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

CORNELL I-WAY DEMONSTRATION PITS PARASITE AGAINST VICTIM

October 6, 1995

Ithaca, NY --Visitors to this year's Supercomputing '95 (SC'95) conference will witness a life-and-death struggle between parasite and victim, using virtual Read more…

SGI POWERS VIRTUAL OPERATING ROOM USED IN SURGEON TRAINING

October 6, 1995

Surgery simulations to date have largely been created through the development of dedicated applications requiring considerable programming and computer graphi Read more…

U.S. Will Relax Export Restrictions on Supercomputers

October 6, 1995

New York, NY -- U.S. President Bill Clinton has announced that he will definitely relax restrictions on exports of high-performance computers, giving a boost Read more…

Dutch HPC Center Will Have 20 GFlop, 76-Node SP2 Online by 1996

October 6, 1995

Amsterdam, the Netherlands -- SARA, (Stichting Academisch Rekencentrum Amsterdam), Academic Computing Services of Amsterdam recently announced that it has pur Read more…

Cray Delivers J916 Compact Supercomputer to Solvay Chemical

October 6, 1995

Eagan, Minn. -- Cray Research Inc. has delivered a Cray J916 low-cost compact supercomputer and Cray's UniChem client/server computational chemistry software Read more…

NEC Laboratory Reviews First Year of Cooperative Projects

October 6, 1995

Sankt Augustin, Germany -- NEC C&C (Computers and Communication) Research Laboratory at the GMD Technopark has wrapped up its first year of operation. Read more…

Sun and Sybase Say SQL Server 11 Benchmarks at 4544.60 tpmC

October 6, 1995

Mountain View, Calif. -- Sun Microsystems, Inc. and Sybase, Inc. recently announced the first benchmark results for SQL Server 11. The result represents a n Read more…

New Study Says Parallel Processing Market Will Reach $14B in 1999

October 6, 1995

Mountain View, Calif. -- A study by the Palo Alto Management Group (PAMG) indicates the market for parallel processing systems will increase at more than 4 Read more…

SC22 Booth Videos

AMD @ SC22
Altair @ SC22
AWS @ SC22
Ayar Labs @ SC22
CoolIT @ SC22
Cornelis Networks @ SC22
DDN @ SC22
Dell Technologies @ SC22
HPE @ SC22
Intel @ SC22
Intelligent Light @ SC22
Lancium @ SC22
Lenovo @ SC22
Microsoft and NVIDIA @ SC22
One Stop Systems @ SC22
Penguin Solutions @ SC22
QCT @ SC22
Supermicro @ SC22
Tuxera @ SC22
Tyan Computer @ SC22
  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire