MetroFocus: May 11, 2023

Tonight, U.S. Olympic figure skating legend Kristi Yamaguchi shares her journey from gold medal to champion of childhood literacy and a gives a preview as the Grand Marshal of the 2nd annual Japan Parade coming to Central Park on Saturday, May 13. Then, Physicist and bestselling author Dr. Michio Kaku joins MetroFocus to discuss his latest book “Quantum Supremacy” on the new technology that he says will change humanity…and it’s not artificial intelligence!



Jenna: Tonight on MetroFocus, we celebrate excellence in the AAPI community.

U.S. getting lesson -- legend Christian Yamaguchi shares her story of child literacy and gives us a sneak peek at the second annual parade coming to Central Park.

Best-selling physicist Michelle on the new technology that will change humanity, and it is not a I.

MetroFocus starts right now.

This is MetroFocus with Rafael Pi Roman on, Jack Ford, and Jenna Flanagan.

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III.

Filomen M. D'Agostino Foundation.

The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund.

Bernard and Denise Schwartz.

Barbara Hope Zuckerberg.

And by Jody and John Arnhold.

Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn foundation.

The Ambrose Monell Foundation.

Estate of Roland Karlen.

The JPB Foundation.

♪ Jenna: Hi, I am Jenna Flanagan.

The celebration of Japanese heritage and culture is returning to Manhattan.

The second annual parade, a festival of Japanese art, history, and tradition will take over Central Park West led by this year's Gregg Marshall, Olympic gold medalist Chris Yamaguchi.

The event comes after the great success of last year's parade.

Kristi is here to tell us more about what to expect this time around and will also tell us about her work and passion in the field of childhood literacy, part of her ongoing chasing the dream initiative.

I would like to welcome Olympic figure skating champion and founder of the always dream foundation Kristi Yamaguchi.

It is so great to have you on.

So great to be here.

Jenna: Let's talk about the parade that will be happening.

You will be Gregg Marshall of the Japan parade first of all.

Since so many parades take place in New York, tell us about this parade and what people can expect.

Kristi: First off it is a huge honor to have been asked to be the Gregg Marshall.

It is only the second annual, and I am following in the footsteps of the great George Takei, who was the very first Gregg Marshall last year, and it is really a celebration of the friendship between Japan and New York City and celebrating the culture, the Japanese culture, so there will be lots of fun, festive things happening.

You know, Japanese dancing and music, drumming, Naruto, the popular animated series will have a presence.

They have a live performance that that happens.

And at the parade obviously, so it should be a fun day celebrating friendship and the connection and being Japanese-American, kind of that bridge I think between York city and America and Japan, so really looking forward to it.

Jenna: Well, if you would, could you tell us a bit about your own family's history, your Japanese heritage and what your family is experienced in America?

Kristi: Yes, we have an interesting history here.

I am actually fourth-generation Japanese-American, and during World War II, both sides of my family, my mom's side and my dad's side were interned in the Japanese-American internment camps, so you know, lost everything, torn from their homes and lives pretty much uprooted for 3 to 5 years, and my mom was actually born in a Colorado internment camp.

While her dad was in Europe fighting for the U.S., so interesting times.

I think, you know, a lot of hardship and mistakes may be and panic, wartime panic, but it is amazing to see that just one generation later I was able to go and pursue the American dream and follow my dream of being an Olympian, so yeah.

Jenna: I think that is very interesting.

One of the things we try to touch on especially when we talk about New York's Asian communities is how long Pistorius.

You are saying you are fourth-generation.

It is an incredibly important part of the conversation, and also the visibility, because again, New York City being New York, I know a lot of people are familiar with Chinatown, etc., but to celebrate the Japanese experience in the Japanese presence in New York seems special.

Kristi: Absolutely, because there is actually a lot bigger Japanese and Japanese-American presence in New York City, and I am even learning that.

That is why I am really looking forward to celebrating this day to see the community come out and show their support and show their pride and everything, so yeah, I think it is really important, and especially the pass few years have been have -- past few years have been tough on Asian Americans.

Here in the San Francisco Bay area where I am located and also New York City, somewhat anti-Asian hate, and I think being able to celebrate an incredible culture and to provide people with a way to learn a little bit more and discover and eventually appreciate and hopefully come to a point where it is like, OK, there is not anything to be afraid of.

Please accept and spread the kindness a little bit more.

Jenna: No, of course, that is wonderful, and speaking of learning more, tell us a little more about your organization.

Kristi: Always dream I founded back in 1996, which is hard to believe.

It has been over 25 years.

It has always been about the basic hopes and dreams of children.

11 years ago we honed our focus into early child literacy, really believing that education is the foundation upon which you build dreams, and we do that by making sure that families from low income communities have access to high-quality books, and not only providing those resources, but also providing critical family engagement support, because we really want the families to understand how critical their role is in their child's learning at home.

By empowering them, they are really setting up their child to let you know, have that foundation and success in school and eventually later on in life.

Every child deserves to have a book and someone to read that book to them, and engage with them.

Jenna: Also, your journey as an Olympic gold medalist I think is super fascinating, and I am wondering what it is that you draw from that experience of building yourself into this world-class athlete that you were able to then take and applied to the world of philanthropy?

Kristi: I think a lot of the inspiration came from realizing how fortunate I was.

My parents, my family, my community, my coaches.

I was so fortunate to have incredible support system and to go after my dreams, and I think it was one thing every child out there to have that same opportunity no matter whether dream is to be.

A firefighter, teacher, Dr., it may be an Olympian -- doctor, maybe an Olympian.

Not only to provide inspiration but to provide resources to help them go after their dreams.

Leveling the playing field a little bit and providing some equity, so that all children have that opportunity.

So yeah, I think realizing and the hard work, the focus, the dedication that went into being an athlete is something that definitely translated into post-Olympic life, how do I channel that and make a difference?

Jenna: Of course, of course, and speaking of equity for so many children, we are now seeing reports from educators that Covid created I guess it be a devastating impact for so many kids in terms of their education loss.

Zoom might work for two adults doing an interview but maybe not for kids learning in school, so I am wondering what was it that your organization learned about who was impacted, and how badly that was?

Kristi: Yes, it was a tough two years for sure.

Our program, our reading program targets four and five-year-olds, so pre-k and kindergarten.

And because it is a home-based program, we were very lucky.

We did not have to make too many adjustments during the pandemic.

I think that is when we learned, wow, how tough it is and how hard that role of parent-teacher at home is.

The learning loss is real, for sure.

I think we are still recovering, and I think that recovery will take another couple of years to really have everyone catch up.

Jenna: Of course, and how light -- what are some of the best practices that your organization suggests to help parents support their young children in their literacy journey?

Kristi: I mean, first off it is helping them understand that, yes, that is a huge role that they can play and that we want them to play, and then two, it is giving them the tools.

Our reading program has three different modules throughout the year, and the first module is called ask me a question.

Sorry, not asking questions, picture walking.

We ask them to sit down with the child and look at a book, look at the pictures.

They do not necessarily even have to read it, but point out what they see.

What colors or look at the tree and aren't those flowers pretty?

All of that is vocabulary and brain development and connections that are happening with their child.

Our second module is asking questions, and that that point we are encouraging and helping the family ask the questions to their child while they are reading like what do you think happens next in the story, or what was your favorite part, things like that, and that turned -- the third module is taking what they learned and connecting it to their own life and world around them.

So it is all of those little tips and strategies that we try to provide the families and the parents, yeah, to just empower them.

Jenna: All right, well, on that note, Kristi Yamaguchi, huge personal fan myself.

I am excited to hear about the work you have taken on and also looking forward to seeing you in the parade, so thank you so much for joining us on MetroFocus.

Kristi: Thank you for having me.

I look forward to seeing everyone out there at the parade.

Jenna: Good evening, and welcome to MetroFocus.

I am Jenna Flanagan.

Will computers be humanity's savior or will they spell our ultimate downfall?

That has long been a question from science-fiction, but these days if there is a lot of anxiety around technology thanks largely to the rapid advancements in AI technology that has many people worried the technology is moving too fast and in an unpredictable direction, but a new book by a theoretical physicist puts things in perspective.

It is called quantum supremacy, and how the quantum computer revolution will change everything.

He is a professor of physics at the city University of New York, and he argues that advancements in technology could solve a lot of the world's biggest problems from climate change to food insecurity to deadly diseases.

Joining me now to talk about potential advancements in quantum computing is the author, Dr. michio kaku.

Let's just get right to it.

When you talk about advancements in computing technology helping humanity and not hurting, what does that look like?

Because I think there is a lot of anxiety on the part of a lot of people right now.

When you are in the third stage of computer power, we had levers, cranks, and police to do a calculation.

After World War II we enter the second stage where we started to use electricity.

We started to use binary, transistors.

Now we are entering stage three, the quantum era where we are no longer computing on levers, gears, and bullies, we are computing on Adams.

This is the ultimate computer.

We talking about computers millions of times more powerful than today's computers, and this means Silicon Valley may become a Rust Belt unless they get on the bandwagon and realize that we are entering stage III, computing on atoms rather than transistors, and that will affect the environment, energy, biology, medicine, you name it, it will change everything.

Jenna: So then one of that -- bear with me, because I know so precious little, and what most people understand about this third face as you describe it of computing technology comes from, you know, movies, comes from Hollywood, so I think there is a concern that there could be something almost a kin to the Terminator films where computers are becoming self-aware and they become more powerful than us, and I my being ridiculously over the top?

Dr. Kaku: There is a debate among scientists, most scientists say that is many decades away, and we have many decades to prepare for that.

In the meantime quantum computers will solve many of the problems facing us today.

We are talking about mobile warming about food supply, cancer, aging, we are talking about diseases like COVID-19.

All of them will be attacked by quantum computers that compute on atoms rather than on what we have today, which is transistors.

If you want to see a quantum computer, just go outside.

See the flowers, the trees, the, these are quantum mechanical devices converting sunlight, the carbon dioxide into oxygen and chlorophyll, and the food that we see around us.

Mother nature is the strongest, most powerful quantum mechanical ball, and we are trying to duplicate that in the laboratory now, which means ultimately using molecules to attack cancer , to attack different diseases like the aging process, things that are way beyond traditional digital computers can be attacked by quantum computers.

Jenna: OK, because that was going to be my question is what that looked like.

It sounds like you are saying this is something that we have lived with in the natural world, not in the man-made world, so it is maybe not something to be feared?

Dr. Kaku: That is right.

A digital computer computes on zeros and ones called binary.

That is the digital revolution.

Mother nature does not use digital.

That is what humans do because we are so feeble.

Nature uses waves, electron waves.

This is called the electron theory, the theory of the atom, and this is how mother nature creates life, photosynthesis, and we are not trying to duplicate that in the laboratory.

We are a few steps behind by their nature, but we are catching up.

We are using quantum theory in order to manipulate nature's quantum theory of diseases, of food supply, of weather, all of the things that we know and love and sometimes have to deal with are going to be dealt with at the quantum level.

Jenna: OK, so then, for example, because you talked about how nature works.

We just went through a global pandemic where we saw this virus jump from person to person, country to country so fast that sometimes we were racing to keep up with it as the virus mutated.

How does quantum physics or quantum computing -- how does that help warn us or prevent perhaps this happening again?

Dr. Kaku: Two ways.

First of all, how is it that the COVID-19 virus becomes so deadly?

When you look at a picture there are spikes on the surface of the virus.

These spikes are keys to the kingdom.

They hit the cell in our lungs and unlock the mechanism.

That is how it enters into the body.

We do not know exactly what these -- we now know exactly what these keys look like, and we can begin to use quantum physics to disarm these keys.

That is how viruses infect us at the molecular level.

This is way beyond a digital computer.

A digital computer cannot manipulate the spikes on the surface of the COVID-19 virus.

This is where quantum physics comes in.

We are using quantum physics in order to alter the quantum physics of diseases, aging, cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's disease.

All of these diseases operate at the molecular level.

We are clueless using digital computers, which only compute on zeros and ones.

Quantum computers compute on atoms, and that is what the universe is made of.

Atoms and molecules, and that is how we will attack diseases like cancer and Parkinson's, diseases that are incurable with digital computers.

Jenna: So you brought up Silicon Valley and tell potential late this kind of computing could make Silicon Valley a Rust Belt, but one of the things a lot of the engineers who were working in Silicon Valley when they were creating the apps did not necessarily take into consideration humanity or human experience, like how people would use the technology they were bringing forward.

So my question to you is is it possible with these incredible advancements like you were talking about, being able to work on a cellular level, anatomic level, is it a possibility that came who are complicated and frequently flawed, could this be used in a negative, nefarious way?

Dr. Kaku: Let's be blunt about this.

These computers are so powerful even the CIA is worried, because the crown jewel of any nation are in the codes.

We have these huge codes to protect our secrets, nuclear weapons secrets and armaments secrets, quantum computers are so powerful they can break through many of these codes.

That is why it is not surprising at the U.S. government is monitoring the developments of quantum computers very carefully , but there are ways to guard against it, but we have to start now thinking about these things.

The U.S. government recently issued a directive saying, yes, quantum computers today cannot penetrate our codes, but it is coming.

It is coming, and we have to be prepared for that.

Quantum computers are so powerful, they can go right through the barrier set up by digital computers.

This is one reason why Silicon Valley is also jumping on the bandwagon.

Who are the leaders in quantum computing technology.

The Chinese and the United States.

Those of the two countries way ahead of everyone in terms of perfecting quantum computers, so it is a good thing we are investing in this technology today, because, yeah, there are some downsides.

Computer secrecy could be a with quantum computers.

Jenna: Given what you just said then, because I also understand you would understandably be a fan of science-fiction, but the way a lot of science-fiction presents the technology that you were talking about, again, going back to the Terminator example, it is in a very dark, ominous kind of way.

Is this something for all of us to be afraid of, or is this something we can put in the effort and work to get out in front of it to make sure that it is used in a positive way?

Dr. Kaku: Any technology can be used for good or bad.

On one side you can cut against disease, poverty, and ignorance.

The other side could cut against people, but we have time.

Quantum computers are just beginning to enter the marketplace now.

Some of them are being sold commercially, so because of that fact we have plenty of time to prepare for any unforeseen circumstances that they unfolded the future.

But right now, we see tremendous plus signs.

Companies are jumping on the bandwagon.

Silicon Valley is saying, yes, we too have to be in the ballgame.

IBM and Google and Microsoft, they are all jumping in.

This is the next hot thing on Wall Street.

People are investing in this technology now, and we can anticipate future problems before they emerge, so we will be one step ahead this time.

We will not be caught off guard.

Oh my God, this quantum computer is more powerful than we thought.

Jenna: In your book title when you refer to quantum supremacy, it is about the supremacy of humans using the technology, not the technology ruling over humans?

Dr. Kaku: The term comes from the scientific establishment.

Quantum supremacy is the point at which a quantum computer can exceed the power of our mightiest digital supercomputer.

That was passed two years ago.

Two years ago we created quantum computers that are billions times more powerful than an ordinary digital computer for certain tasks, not in general.

For certain tests quantum computers have already exceeded quantum supremacy.

Years ago quantum computed computers that 3 times 5 is 15.

Quantum computers will never get off the ground if that is how you can compute.

Today quantum computers can outrace any down -- any known supercomputer for any certain task.

That is why Silicon Valley is jumping on the bandwagon.

This is one of the hardest things in the stock market.

Jenna: For anyone who wants to learn more, the book is called quantum supremacy: Aldo quantum computer revolution will change everything, and thank you for joining us and helping to explain and perhaps demystify what could be coming in our future.

Dr. Kaku: Thank you.

♪ Jack: Thanks for tuning into MetroFocus.

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And by Jody and John Arnhold.

Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn foundation.

The Ambrose Monell Foundation.

Estate of Roland Karlen.

The JPB Foundation.

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