One of the loftiest goals of the human condition is to try and achieve a form of immortality, whether it’s figuring out how immortality can exist in nature, or by positing versions of individuals reformed as machines or things less mechanical. Like Avatar, only without all the depletion of human resources and blue skin tones.
This past weekend, Russian multimillionaire Dimitry Itskov held the Global Future 2045 conference in New York City, where a host of some of the brainiest people on Earth gathered to listen to and consider a future of immortal minds and holographic bodies. Sounds like a weekend with Timothy Leary, actually.
Let’s take a look at some of the goals Itskov foresees for humanity. By 2020, he wants humans to be able to control robots with our brains. Five years after that, he wants a Futurama scenario where brains can be transplanted into a life-support system, which includes a robot body. (The headless body of Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon are behind this theory 100%. Haroo!) By 2035, technology should allow our minds to be transferred into computers, rendering problematic items such as brains non-essential. 2045 is the year of the end goal, which will include artificial brains controlling holographic bodies. I know, I know. I’m not even that optimistic when I do something as simple as frying eggs. But if I have a hologram for a body, eating eggs would become a thing of the past, as would millions of humanity’s customs. (Is eating to survive a custom? Sure.)
One highlight of the conference was a remotely controlled life-sized robot (or Geminoid, taken after the Latin word for “twin”) that looked nearly identical to Japanese robotics researcher Hiroshi Ishiguro. Its lips moved, its eyes looked around the room, and Ishiguro’s voice came through the loudspeakers, making the robot seem almost human to anyone standing a short distance away. Ishiguro uses the bot to confer with research institute students two hours away, controlling it through the Internet. Don’t go getting jealous, however, as he says, “The problem is, if I use this android, the research institute cannot pay for me,” which drew laughter from the crowd. Below is Ishiguro’s electronic understudy.
Of course, not everyone shared the enthusiastic certainty that informs Itskov’s work, but we don’t even want to give those guys a voice, because the future is a much brighter place without naysaying.
“We shouldn’t just observe the wonderful entrepreneurs, we need to move ahead systematically,” Itskov says. “We are really at the time when technology can affect human evolution. I want us to shape the future, bring it up for public discussion, and avoid any scenario that could damage humanity.”
No, I don’t think I’ll be forever a 60+ year old man walking around with a digitally rendered body, but it’s possible that a billionaire might be doing it. Assuming they don’t go bankrupt in the process.