Russian Millionaire Wants to Make Minds Immortal by 2045

First Posted: Jun 17, 2013 09:55 AM EDT

As we age, our bodies slowly degenerate and decay. Yet a Russian multimillionaire started a project aiming to halt that process--at least when it comes to our brains. Dmitry Itskov founded the 2045 Initiative two years ago and recently organized the Global Future 2045 congress with some of the world's best known scientists and visionaries in New York. The goal? To make our minds immortal.

Scientists and spiritualists discussed various ways to accomplish this feat this past summer weekend in Manhattan; the methods ranged from transplanting brains into life-extending machines to scanning to uploading them on a different level altogether--something that practitioners of Buddhism reported has already been possible for centuries.

For "Doctor Who" fans, this idea may seem eerily reminiscent of the Cybermen that tried to take over Earth by implanting human brains into unfeeling and emotionless cyborgs. Yet the idea isn't all science fiction. According to Itskov's new initiative, scientists will develop robots that can be controlled remotely using our minds by 2020. Five years later, scientists may be able to find a way to transplant the brain into a robotic body that acts as a life-support system and by 2035, the project will aim to move the mind into a computer. This would eliminate the need for a robot altogether, according to the preliminary road-map of the initiative. The brain could then be used to control hologram bodies instead of physical robotic bodies by 2045.

So how feasible is this new initiative? Controlling robots with our minds isn't all that farfetched. Scientists have already developed artificial limbs that can be controlled by impulse. They've also created toy helicopters that can be controlled by the brain, and have even placed electrodes on a human brain so that the individual could control a cursor on a computer screen. Called brain-computer interface, the ability to hook humans up to computers is leading us into a new generation of interaction with machines.

What will be difficult, though, is supporting the tissue of the brain without an actual body. So far, any brain-computer interface has been done through the use of a living human. If a life-supporting body were taken out of the equation, it'd be far more difficult to substitute it with a machine or robot. Transferring consciousness to a computer will also be a challenging task because the brain--and our personalities--are so complex. 

That hasn't deterred Itskov, though. He's determined to make his cyborg/hologram dream a reality for humans. Recently, he discussed his new project at an event called Global Future 2045 at Lincoln Center in New York City.

"My vision for humanity is not that I want everybody to be a kind of ascetic person," said Itskov in an interview with the Verge. "I also want to facilitate the creation of a new high-tech world. If you remember some of the best stories from sci-fi literature, that's what I'm expecting. I want to see these amazing technologies transform the infrastructure of civilization."

Whether or not we'll see Cybermen outside of our television screens in 2045, though, remains to be seen.

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