Since humans first appeared on the planet, one subject has obsessed mankind: Death and what comes afterward. It’s the subject of countless volumes of literature, the basis of many religions, and has also been examined by science for decades.
But what if we could all be immortal? Would living forever be something we’d seek and choose?
The answer for Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov is an enthusiastic yes, and he’s putting his money where his mouth is, founding the 2045 Initiative to make immortality just another technological leap we can achieve.
What exactly is the 2045 Initiative? Ancient Origins describes it this way:
“The 2045 team is working to create an international research center that will focus on anthropomorphic robotics, transhumanism, cybernetics and living systems modeling. The 2045 Initiative is dedicated to the proposition that man’s consciousness can and will someday merge with machines, once the infrastructure of the brain is mapped and can be recreated in a digital environment.
Itskov and his supporters are convinced of the inevitability of this development.
“’Within the next 30 years, I am going to make sure that we can all live forever,’ Itskov told the BBC in 2016. ‘I’m 100 percent confident it will happen.'”
The blueprint from the 2045 Initiative suggests immortality will begin with four steps:
- Software that allows the human brain to interface with a robot avatar will be developed.
- The invention of a robot avatar that can host and also be directly controlled by a transplanted human brain.
- Controlling a robot with an artificial brain, modeled on of a human, even possessing a human personality.
- Decoded and transcribed human personalities will be programmed into a computer. A hologram will then be created to serve as that person’s vehicle. The hologram will also be to assume any shape, size, or appearance.
In the last three stages, the brain and personality will be that of a person is about to die. By taking on the form of a robot and then a hologram, the person will have achieved immortality.
Of course, even if Itskov’s team is successful in their efforts, all of this raises a much larger ethical question: Would such a move be a good idea or would it be the end of humanity as we know it? As it turns out, two things could serve to make the 2045 Initiative nothing more than a pipe dream:
“First, it is relying on science that remains mostly grounded in the speculative stage. While effective brain-computer interfaces have been developed, the other steps on the road to immortality envisioned by Itskov’s group are nowhere near realization. Itskov has deep pockets, but all the money in the world won’t push the science two or three generations beyond where its ready to go.
“The other problem with the 2045 Initiative is that its concepts about what mind, brain and consciousness are, and how they function, may be built on a house of cards.”
Also, there’s the question of what happens even if we do achieve immortality. Is living forever really a blessing, or could it be a curse? Perhaps there really is an afterlife, and by avoiding death we also deprive ourselves of the rewards which potentially await us on the other side. Instead of rest and sleep, we might be chained to robot bodies we cannot hope to escape. And that could well be the ultimate form of hell.
Here’s more on the 2045 Initiative:
Featured Image Via Dan Wilton/Flickr