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If you were given the opportunity to upload your mind into an artificial body, would you do it? Would you give up part of your humanity in exchange for a chance to live forever?
Right now, these questions are purely theoretical but things are about to change, thanks to a nonprofit organization that aims to offer us cybernetic immortality by 2045. The 2045 Initiative was funded in 2011 by Russian billionaire and entrepreneur Dmitri Itskov, with the help of specialists in the field of robotics and artificial neural networks. Over the following years, more than 50 leading biologists, physicists, anthropologists, psychologists and philosophers have joined the initiative.
Their combined efforts aim to draft a strategy for mankind’s further development, culminating with the conversion of a human mind to a hologram by 2045. Here’s a basic rundown of Project Avatar 2045’s plans for humanity:
- 2015-2020 – AVATAR A: By the end of this period, the Initiative hopes to see the development of “affordable android avatars controlled by a brain-computer interface.” These androids will essentially be operated by humans, using technology that converts brain impulses into a format readable by machines. The avatars would prove extremely useful in a number of dangerous environments and situations.Avatar 2045 predicts that, by the end of 2020 we’ll see avatar components being used to rehabilitate fully or partially disabled patients.
- 2020-2025 – AVATAR B: The creation of “an autonomous life-support system for the human brain linked to a robotic avatar.” This will allow any patient with an intact brain to exchange his human body for an artificial one. The brain would be kept alive and allowed to perform all its functions.The first cyborgs will herald a new IT revolution aided by the overlapping of biological and electronic systems. Just imagine accessing the internet using nothing but your thoughts.
- 2030-2035 – AVATAR C: Twenty years from now, “a computer model of the brain and human consciousness” will have been created. This would allow future scientists to effectively transfer an individual consciousness onto an entirely artificial body. Free from the restraints of biological bodies and essentially immortal, the Human 2.0 will profoundly change the world.
This is a time when substance-independent minds will receive new bodies with capacities far exceeding those of ordinary humans.”
A thorough expansion of human capabilities is expected as the very nature of mankind will redefine itself.
- 2045 – If everything goes well, by 2045 artificial intelligence will no longer require a physical basis. The Initiative hopes that 30 years from now, holographic bodies will have been developed enough to permit the full transfer of a human mind.“Holograms give plenty of advantages,” Itskov said. “You can walk through walls, move at the speed of light. Remember in Star Wars, Obi-Wan’s hologram? That was pretty amazing!”
There are many who consider Avatar 2045 a waste of time and money and their claims seem to be justified by the complexity of the human brain. But, as we’ve come to know, this attitude does not lead to progress. We should also keep in mind the fact that at some point the radio, the television, space flight and the internet were considered impossible achievements. Technology keeps evolving at an ever-increasing pace and hidden doors are beginning to open.
As exotic as Avatar 2045’s expectations might be, the organization has found unanticipated support in the unlikeliest of places. Itskov met with the Dalai Lama to discuss the details of his venture and managed to impress him to the point where he offered his encouragement and his blessings:
During the last few years, scientists have begun to show an interest about consciousness or the mind. I feel that over the next decades, modern science will become more complete.
Up to now the material side of science has been highly technical, highly advanced, but the mind side has not been adequate. This project is definitely helpful in acquiring more knowledge.”
Do you share the Dalai Lama’s openness to futuristic concepts such as Avatar 2045? If so, you’ll be pleased to hear that John F. Kennedy once said:
The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.”