The Future of Humanity summary

The Future of Humanity is a book you have to read if you’re fascinated by physics like I am. I’ve always been intrigued by what the future may hold for humanity and whether it will involve us travelling between the stars.

I remember watching numerous documentaries when I was a child and being fascinated with outer space and the possibilities it posed.

Michio Kaku is one of the foremost physicists in the world and he clearly details how humanity could evolve and develop in the next century and beyond.

Colonies on Mars, mining asteroids and interstellar travel, this all sounds fanciful, but it is within the realms of possibility and some of it many achievable in our lifetimes!

This is one of the best books I’ve read on the potential future of the human race. It’s amazing to think about what we could end up doing as a species. Hopefully, we are able to put our petty differences aside and look to the stars in the manner that Kaku suggests.

The Future of Humanity summary

Takeaway 1 – Colonising Mars is a real possibility

Ever since we landed on the moon in 1969, the next goal has been to land on Mars. While that goal has seemed further away than ever, recently, it’s becoming more of a possibility.

Elon Musk is determined to fund an expedition to the Red Planet, while NASA is looking at sending a manned mission to the planet.

Perhaps by 2030, we may see a human on the surface of Mars. However, there are numerous obstacles to overcome first. A trip to Mars is not like going to the Moon.

It will take nine months to reach Mars. Astronauts will need a lot of supplies to just get there. Once they are there, there’s no guarantee they will be able to get back. These are issues that need to be resolved before any mission is launched.

Even if a mission to colonise the planet lands, it will not be without its challenges. The atmosphere of Mars is much weaker than Earth’s. That leaves astronauts exposed to dangerous radiation. They would need to build underground shelter’s to combat this.

Terraforming Mars will not be easy, but it can be done with the abundant carbon dioxide in the atmosphere being used to cultivate plants. 

It may require that we first set up base on the Moon first before we can colonise Mars to give us a foothold in the cosmos. However, far from being an impossible mission, it’s something which could become a distinct possibility.

Takeaway 2 – Robots may be necessary to travel further into space

Shows such as Star Trek make interstellar travel seem easy. Of course, it’s not. If it were that easy we would be doing it already. In reality, travelling beyond Mars will be tricky for humanity, but not impossible.

The big challenge is that with our current technology, it will far too long to travel beyond the solar system. The human body would not hold up in the vacuum of space for that long and any mission would quickly run out of supplies.

Even with faster ships, these issues would still remain. One solution is to outsource the problems to robots. This is unlikely to happen in our lifetimes, but it’s possible in the near future.

Robots do not have the problems that we do in deep space. They do not need to breathe oxygen, eat foo, or exercise. They can work 24/7 to complete the tasks that would take us an age.

Due to the size of the ships needed for interstellar travel, we would need to build a lot of them in outer space. This poses problems for humans, but it’s a lot easier for robots.

Given advancements in technology, we could develop robots that operate like those in the film Blade Runner. They are sent off into space to build vast ships that will propel us through the solar system and beyond.

Building these ships would be no mean feat and require an extraordinary effort. Robots will be essential in that endeavour if we want to escape the confines of our solar system.

Takeaway 3 – Encountering extraterrestrial life is a real possibility

One of the biggest development in the history of humanity will be when, or if, we come into contact with extraterrestrial life.

Given the size of the universe and our solar system, it’s unlikely that we are the only intelligent species occupying either.

Indeed, we may have been visited by extraterrestrials, but not realised it. They could be so advanced, that given our relative primitive state, we would be unable to recognise them.

Kaku believes we will encounter aliens within this century and scientists estimate that there may be more than 20 billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy!

Given those numbers, it’s almost certain we are not alone.

The big question is what happens when we encounter an extraterrestrial species. Many Hollywood films depict different encounters, some cordial, others violent.

The truth is we don’t know, although it seems unlikely aliens would travel across the cosmos to wipe us out. Why would they bother, when there are plenty of other planets to plunder which aren’t inhabited.

A real possibility is that we may not be able to communicate with extraterrestrials at all. Their frames of references could be completely different from ours. Depending on their genetic makeup, the could communicate in a completely different manner.

Whatever happens, with more being pumped into the search for extraterrestrial life and our quest to explore the cosmos just beginning, it’s likely that we will encounter aliens sooner rather than later! 

Favourite Quotes

  • “It is as inescapable as the laws of physics that humanity will one day confront some type of extinction-level event.”
  • “History reveals that scientific revolutions come in waves, often stimulated by advances in physics.”
  • “Since science is the engine of prosperity, nations that turn their backs on science and technology eventually enter a downward spiral.”
  • “In other words, science is about natural law, while religion is about ethics, and there is no conflict between them as long as one keeps this distinction in mind.”
  • “I believe we will make contact with an extraterrestrial civilisation, perhaps sometime in this century. Instead of being merciless conquerors, they might be benevolent and willing to share their technology with us. This would then be one of the most important turning points in history, comparable to the discovery of fire. It could determine the course of human civilisation for centuries into the future.”

The Future of Humanity review

This The Future of Humanity summary has looked at Michio Kaku’sexcellent book on what the future could hold for our species on Earth and in the cosmos.

It’s a fascinating look into what’s possible in the future and what might not be. It’s easy to be seduced by science fiction films such as Star Trek where interstellar travel and teleportation are simple.

However, both of these are likely to be hard to achieve, if impossible in the near future and maybe the far future.

It’s a fascinating read, but the book is built on the premise that humans continue to survive well into the future. If you’ve read my The Uninhabitable Earth summary, or read Brief Answers To The Big Questions, you’ll know that’s not a foregone conclusion.

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that humanity faces an existential crisis this century. Whether it’s in the form of climate change, nuclear war, or the off-chance that we make contact with an alien civilisation, there’s no guarantee the predictions in this will come to pass.

Kaku strikes me as an optimist, which I guess you’d have to be if you’re pondering the future. If we suspend what could happen, then his suggestions are plausible.

But they will only happen if we take concerted efforts to solve our problems on Earth first. Considering the USA put a man on the moon back in 1969, it’s incredible to think we haven’t progressed to a base on the moon nearly 60 years later.

That just shows how politics can get in the way of the suggestions that Kaku outlines.

For the sake of humanity and because I’d like to see some of Kaku’s predictions come true, I hope we resolve them and move forwards towards the future of humanity outlined in this book!

Who should The Future of Humanity?

If you’re interested in science in any way, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s a fantastic read, and that will have you scratching your head at what is and what isn’t possible.

Some of the suggestions shared in The Future of Humanity can be complicated, but Kaku’s writing style makes it easy to understand.

I feel that anyone can benefit from this book and most members of the general public will find it to be an enjoyable read.