You may recall a super crazy plan from one Russian billionaire that's hoping to fund the first immortality project. Dmitry Itskov is pretty young at 31, but he hopes to live forever with the help of science and robotics. He needs help, however, from the billionaire community to complete his objective - becoming immortal by 2045.
In an open letter from Itskov, he implores billionaires to start funding "cybernetic immortality and the artificial body." For you see, Itskov doesn't want to make an immortal body. It's impossible to stop aging as our bodies will just wither and die sooner or later. His plan involves something far more sci-fi and it's way cooler as a result.
If you're familiar with the idea of transferring consciousness to a machine, then you already have a leg up on understanding what Itskov hopes to do. His plans for 2045 involve transferring the human consciousness to a machine and preserving said consciousness. It would essentially mean transferring the consciousness in our brain to a synthetic brain. Our humanity would be supposedly intact, but none of our original body would remain.
Of course, that's still quite a ways off. For now, he's hoping to have some other exciting technology available by the year 2015. He calls them "android avatars" that are controlled via a "brain-computer." You're no doubt thinking of James Cameron's Avatar films and that's exactly what Itskov has planned. He hopes to use these "android avatars" to help people "work in dangerous environments, perform rescue operations, travel in extreme situations, etc." He also hopes the technology would allow people with disabilities to walk again or experience lost senses.
You might think that sounds a little bit too much like sci-fi. Surprisingly enough, the technology is almost here and will be readily available later on down the road. It's actually the least sci-fi of all the milestones that Itskov has planned.
Take for instance his plans for 2025. He hopes to create a robot that can take in the brain of an otherwise damaged beyond repair body. It's not exactly the transferring of human consciousness as the machine would still be dependent on the brain. It's still crazy sci-fi techno-magic and a lot of people would disagree with his timetable.
His goal for 2045 isn't simply immortality. That plays a large role in it, but Itskov sees it as the next step in human evolution. In his mind, death is but a genetic defect that needs to be eradicated. There are plenty of scientists who would disagree with that statement, but let Itskov have his fun. He hopes that the immortality project will advance humanity to new plateaus of "energy generation, transportation, politics, medicine, psychology, sciences, and so on."
Of course, when you're immortal and in the body of a super robot, a lot of things could get done. It's an exciting thought, but one that we must temper into reality. The human consciousness and its relationship with the brain is still something that's not understood completely. We're making progress all the time, but I doubt that we'll able to transfer the human consciousness, independent of the brain, to a synthetic one in the next 33 years.
Itskov is a dreamer and I admire him for that. He hopes that there are other billionaires out there who want to dream with him. That's why he's offering to "coordinate your personal immortality project entirely free of charge" to anybody who's willing to pony up the funds to continue the research. I'm sure that there are a lot of billionaires who would want to live forever, but Itskov must take into account that people would use this technology for nothing but evil. The one assurance we have is that evil men will die. If Itskov succeeds, we may no longer have that assurance.