Dmitry Itskov wants to make humans immortal - fictionalised in The Terminator - by merging them with machines.
In science fiction, one of the most popular concepts is the cyborg - a creature that's part human and part machine. Now, a Russian billionaire is determined to take this sci-fi trope and make it a reality.
The man is named Dmitry Itskov, and no, this isn't an April Fools' joke. Itskov is totally serious about wanting to make humans immortal by merging them with machines, and he's been pushing the project forward since 2011 when he founded the 2045 Initiative, ostensibly the deadline for "substance-independent" minds to receive artificial bodies - what some scientists refer to as the Singularity.
As Digital Trends describes, the ultimate goal is to be able to transfer a person's mind or consciousness from a living brain into a machine with that person's personality and memories intact. Freed of physical form, the person would exist in a network similar to the internet and be able to travel at the speed of light all over the planet, or even into space.
To call Itskov's plan ambitious is an understatement, but he's mapped out several key steps to get there. The first goal, called Avatar A, involves a person controlling a robotic human replica via a brain-machine interface (BMI), a technology that already exists today. That deadline is set for 2020.
Next up is Avatar B, due 2025, which would involve transplanting a human brain into an artificial body "at the end of one's life". That sounds eerily similar to what one of Doctor Who's most notorious monsters, the Cybermen, do to their victims - granting them immortality, but at the cost of losing all emotion and individuality.
Don't worry too much about that, though, since Itskov will take care of it by the time Avatar C rolls around in 2035, which would also involve a human-machine brain transplant, only this time with all personality intact. To achieve this step, it will be necessary to create a computer model of human consciousness.
Finally, by 2045, Itskov hopes the Initiative will have learned enough about the human mind to free it completely from physical form. From the internet-like hive mind, individual personalities could manifest themselves as holograms when they need to interact with their environment.
If Google does "moonshot thinking" with its X projects, Itskov is thinking intergalactically with his 2045 Initiative. His goal is nothing short of transforming humanity into something new and immortal. "We believe that it is possible and necessary to eliminate aging and even death, and to overcome the fundamental limits of the physical and mental capabilities currently set by the restrictions of the physical body," the project website says.
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