The man is named Dmitry Itskov, and no, this isn’t an April Fools’ joke. Itskov is totally serious about wanting to make humans immortal by merging them with machines, and he’s been pushing the project forward since 2011 when he founded the 2045 Initiative, ostensibly the deadline for “substance-independent” minds to receive artificial bodies — what some scientists refer to as the Singularity.
As Digital Trends describes, the ultimate goal is to be able to transfer a person’s mind or consciousness from a living brain into a machine with that person’s personality and memories intact. Freed of physical form, the person would exist in a network similar to the internet and be able to travel at the speed of light all over the planet, or even into space.
To call Itskov’s plan ambitious is an understatement, but he’s mapped out several key steps to get there. The first goal, called Avatar A, involves a person controlling a robotic human replica via a brain-machine interface (BMI), a technology that already exists today. That deadline is set for 2020.
Next up is Avatar B, due 2025, which would involve transplanting a human brain into an artificial body “at the end of one’s life”. That sounds eerily similar to what one of Doctor Who’s most notorious monsters, the Cybermen, do to their victims — granting them immortality, but at the cost of losing all emotion and individuality.
Don’t worry too much about that, though, since Itskov will take care of it by the time Avatar C rolls around in 2035, which would also involve a human-machine brain transplant, only this time with all personality intact. To achieve this step, it will be necessary to create a computer model of human consciousness.
Finally, by 2045, Itskov hopes the Initiative will have learned enough about the human mind to free it completely from physical form. From the internet-like hive mind, individual personalities could manifest themselves as holograms when they need to interact with their environment.
… Dmitry Itskov, founder of the 2045 Initiative and Global Future 2045 congress (GF2045) has announced that he will unveil the Dmitry Avatar-A head — the world’s most human-like android head — at the GF2045 congress, scheduled for June 15-16 at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City.
The Dmitry Avatar-A head is an exact robotic replica of the head of Mr. Dmitry Itskov himself and was created by award-winning roboticist Dr. David Hanson, founder of Hanson Robotics. Hanson is best known for his robotic androids of Albert Einstein and Philip K. Dick, and the latter will also be exhibited at the GF2045 congress.
Dmitry Itskov himself commented: “The world’s best two creators of state-of-the-art robotic faces — Dr. Ishiguro of Japan and Dr. Hanson — are speakers at our GF2045 congress. In this project Dr. Hanson pushed the state-of-the-art even further. This achievement shows that science is literally just a few steps away from being able to make an artificial human head and body shape that is extremely realistic and nearly indistinguishable from the original.”
“The Dmitry Avatar-A head represents the most expressive facial robot in history and far exceeds the life-like characteristics of previous robot portraits of humans in both technology and artistry,” stated David Hanson. “The Dmitry Avatar-A head can establish eye contact, recognize faces, and carries out natural spoken conversation. In the case of Dmitry Itskov, the robot will be controlled by Dmitry, enabling the Avatar-A head to speak both Russian and English.”
Facial expressions were created with 36 degrees of freedom (servomotors) with high-resolution sensors in the eyes. The Dmitry Avatar-A head also benefits from a new hyper-expressive formulation of Hanson’s proprietary nanotech material called “Frubber,” a spongy, structured elastic polymer that expertly mimics the movement of real human musculature and skin using 1/20th the power of other materials, as well as new mechanisms for improved facial expressions, explained Hanson. The Dmitry Avatar-A head is built for real use and is designed as a whole system for practical deployment as a telepresence representative. According to Hanson, the Dmitry Avatar-A head represents “a leap into a bold new future. The age of avatars has arrived!” …
If we can stay alive long enough, we might be able to do the consciousness transfer at the end. I wouldn’t want to be first, but once they have the bugs worked out, sure… unless they can just reverse the aging process, then I’d stay fully human.