Russian multimillionaire Dmitry Itskov predicts that the human race will achieve immortality within 25 years as a result of minds being transferred into computers, and that robot bodies capable of housing human brains could even be available by 2025.[youtube height=”400″ width=”550″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik_3Q2kQbfQ[/youtube]
A number of neuroscience experts gathered at Itskov’s Global Future 2045 conference this past weekend in New York City to debate the fundamental question being posed by futurists across the world – when will man achieve technological singularity and be able to cheat death by merging with machine?
According to Itskov, within the next 10 years humans will be able to control robots using their brains. By 2025, dying bodies could be replaced by robot vassals housing human brains. By 2035, human minds will be transferred into computers, eliminating the need for a body altogether. By 2045, artificial brains will control hologram entities.
Itskov is calling on governments and the United Nations to help him realize the goal of immortality within 25 years, but experts like Archbishop Lazar Puhalo of the Orthodox Church in America warn that just because technology could allow such accomplishments to be achieved doesn’t necessarily mean they should be pursued.
“I’m not too fond of the idea of immortality, because I think it will be deathly boring,” he said, adding, “There’s a lot of stuff in them (human bodies) that makes us human. I’m not sure they can be built into machines.”
“We are really at the time when technology can affect human evolution,” Itskov responded. “I want us to shape the future, bring it up for public discussion, and avoid any scenario that could damage humanity.”
In an interview with CNBC, Itskov expands on his vision of mass producing “lifelike, low cost avatars that can be uploaded with the contents of a human brain” to provide humanity with “eternal life”.
Itskov is working on producing an avatar of his own head similar to but more advanced than Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro’s robot clone as part of the “gradual” transition towards a new type of human being that will not be susceptible to aging or disease.
Venture capitalists, hedge funds and banks are all interested in funding the project, which Itskov predicts will form an industry that will be “much bigger than the Internet”. ‘Avatar B’ – a beta version of the project – will be ready within 10 years, according to Itskov.
Itskov’s predictions closely match those of inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who is renowned for accurately forecasting the invention of the iPhone, the iPad, Google Glass, iTunes, You Tube and on demand services like Netflix as well as the Kindle in his 1999 book The Age of Spiritual Machines.
By 2029, Kurzweil predicts that the vast majority of humans will have augmented their bodies with cybernetic implants and those who refuse or are unable to do so will form a “human underclass” that is not productively engaged in the economy. The wider trend of the elite seeing humans as completely expendable as their roles are taken up by machines unfolds after 2029 when, “There is almost no human employment in production, agriculture, and transportation,” writes Kurzweil.
This future vision – a utopia to some, a dystopia to others – is also supported by the likes of Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who recently predicted that his company will be capable of developing artificial intelligence for its programs that will be indistinguishable from a human being within 5-10 years. Schmidt routinely speaks of his desire to swallow nano-bots every morning that would regulate the functioning of his body, as well as sending his robotic clone to social functions.
Those opposed to the vision of man merging with machine make the point that such technology is only likely to be available to a wealthy elite and that it will be deployed to the detriment of the rest of the population, who will increasingly be demonized as worthless and parasitical.
One such opponent was Theodore Kaczynski – the Unabomber – who is widely quoted by futurists like Ray Kurzweil and Bill Joy as succinctly outlining the dangers of the technological singularity despite his murderous actions.
“Due to improved techniques the elite will have greater control over the masses; and because human work will no longer be necessary the masses will be superfluous, a useless burden on the system. If the elite is ruthless they may simply decide to exterminate the mass of humanity. If they are humane they may use propaganda or other psychological or biological techniques to reduce the birth rate until the mass of humanity becomes extinct, leaving the world to the elite,” wrote Kaczynski in his manifesto.
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