Emerging from the cinemas, bleary eyed and squinting, transported from 161 minutes in the land of Pandora many fell into a ‘post- avatar depression’, lamenting in the emptiness of a life without blue skin and a tail. A human consciousness implanted into a manmade carrier may seem like a concept more suited to the realms of science fiction, but according to Dmitry Itskov, founder of Russia 2045, immortality as an avatar is possible by 2045. Eventually resulting in a human mind effectively ‘downloaded’ to a hologram avatar, this project has an ambitious timescale.
The first leg, 2015 – 2020, introduces a robotic representation of the human body controlled through a Brain Computer Interface – a connection between a brain and an external device. An aim perhaps not so elusive, with researchers currently making advances towards fusing prosthetic limbs with the nervous system.
Within five years Itskov aims for the project to have implanted a human brain into a robotic life support system, allowing ‘a fully functioning bodily life’. Perhaps an unappealing idea to some, Russia 2045 suggests that this will allow those with unserviceable bodies but a functional brain a new opportunity to live. Let’s just hope that they don’t ‘Exterminate’ the rest of us in the process!
Between 2030 and 2035, Itskov hopes that by ‘reverse-engineering’ – analysing a system in order to model it – scientists will have reconstructed a human brain complete with a mathematical description of its workings. It may seem improbable that our thoughts, personalities and memories are programmable but Professor Vitaliy Lvovich Dunin-Barkovsky, Ph.D. in Physical and Mathematical Sciences, is working on what he calls the ‘code of the mind’, explaining that there are ‘a limited number of working principles that govern the nervous system and enable us to think. Some of these principles or mechanisms have already been identified. When all are identified, we will find out how the brain works.’
Taking evolution into his own hands Itskov writes that humanity will ‘make a fully managed evolutionary transition and eventually become a new species’. By 2045 ‘substance independent minds’ will be in control of the holographic, shape shifting forms composed of nanorobots – robots of the scale of 10-9m. Critics question if humanity has reached, or will reach, the technological requirements to achieve such a feat in the next 33 years.
Itskov counters that ‘History is littered with misconceptions professed by laymen and great scientists’ highlighting the early doubts of the physicist Lord Kelvin, who in 1895 stated that, ‘flying machines heavier than air are impossible’. Could planes and helicopter once have been as incredible as ‘avatars’ are now? Vast brain power is certainly being invested in the project; gathering 30 of Russia’s leading scientists and now looking globally, with the first ‘Global Future 2045 Congress’ held earlier this year in Moscow. The Congress consisted of 56 prominent professionals ranging from physicists through to psychologists who met to discuss the future for humanity. Raymond Kurzweil, inventor of software such as voice recognition, presented at the event. He sees Russia 2045 as a useful project as part of many efforts to employ the growth of technology. The initiative begins to seem slightly more tangible as this leading inventor, speaking at a ‘future talk’ in Vienna, tells the audience that technology does allow for a copy of the human brain to be made. Recently, Russia 2045 has been gathering some more surprising backing.
The Dalai Lama has registered his support and blessing for the project. When Itskov travelled to meet him at his residence in India he expressed his approval at the scientific focus towards the human mind as opposed to biological matter, believing that over the next decades, ‘modern science will become more complete.’ Itzkov recently appealed for financial support in an address to the Forbes Rich list – an annual global ranking of the richest people. Selling it at a shrewd investment he writes ‘currently you invest in business projects that will bring you yet another billion. You also have the ability to finance the extension of your own life up to immortality.’
But what about us poor students? Don’t worry, Itskov claims that when the process of mass manufacturing is reached ‘avatars’ will become as affordable as automobiles!