A 35-year-old Russian billionaire has embarked on an ambitious goal to make immortality a reality by using cutting-edge science that enables uploading of human brain to a computer.
Dmitry Itskov has brought together some of the world’s leading neuroscientists, robot builders and consciousness researchers to create a robot which is capable of uploading a person’s personality.
Itskov ‘2045 initiative’ is described as the next step in evolution, supporting research into artificial intelligence. The project aims to store a person’s thoughts and feelings in a robot, following the belief by experts that brains function in the same way as a computer.
“Within the next 30 years I am going to make sure that we can all live forever. I’m 100 per cent confident it will happen. Otherwise I wouldn’t have started it,” Itskov said.
The project’s first step is to create a robot that can be controlled using the mind. It would work by uploading a digital version of a human brain to an android effectively rebooting a person’s mind which would take the form of a robotic copy of a human body or, once technology has developed, a hologram with a full human personality.
“If there is no immortality technology, I’ll be dead in the next 35 years. The ultimate goal of my plan is to transfer someone’s personality into a completely new body,” Itskov told BBC.
He has invested in the programme having amassed a fortune from his internet media firm New Media Stars.
Some scientists claim the project is “too stupid” and “cannot be done”.
“You cannot code intuition, you cannot code aesthetic beauty, you cannot code love or hate,” said Miguel Nicolelis, leading neuroscientist at Duke University.
“There is no way you will ever see a human brain reduced to a digital medium. It’s simply impossible to reduce that complexity to the kind of algorithmic process that you will have to have to do that,” Nicolelis said.
However, Itskov is more sanguine and believes he could indeed succeed in his goal of bringing about immortality.
“I will answer you to the question of ethics by the opinion which was given to me by his holiness the Dalai Llama when I visited him in 2013. His point was that you can do everything if your motivation is to help people,” Itskov said.
“For the next few centuries I envision having multiple bodies, one somewhere in space, another hologram-like, my consciousness just moving from one to another,” he said.