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Science

University Receives $5 Million Grant To Study Immortality 532

Posted by Soulskill
from the paging-connor-macleod dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Humans have pondered their mortality for millennia. Now the University of California at Riverside reports that it has received a $5 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation that will fund research on aspects of immortality, including near-death experiences and the impact of belief in an afterlife on human behavior. 'People have been thinking about immortality throughout history. We have a deep human need to figure out what happens to us after death,' says John Martin Fischer, the principal investigator of The Immortality Project. 'No one has taken a comprehensive and sustained look at immortality that brings together the science, theology and philosophy.' Fischer says he going to investigate two different kinds of immortality. One is the possibility of living forever without dying. The main questions there are whether it's technologically plausible or feasible for us, either by biological enhancement such as those described by Ray Kurzweil, or by some combination of biological enhancement and uploading our minds onto computers in the future. Second would be to investigate the full range of questions about Judeo, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, and other Asian religions' conceptions of the afterlife to see if they're theologically and philosophically consistent. 'We'll look at near death experiences both in western cultures and throughout the world and really look at what they're all about and ask the question — do they indicate something about an afterlife or are they kind of just illusions that we're hardwired into?'"
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University Receives $5 Million Grant To Study Immortality

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  • No Dying! (Score:5, Funny)

    by mhotchin (791085) <slashdot AT hotchin DOT net> on Saturday August 04, 2012 @08:36PM (#40881777)

    I don't want to achieve immortality through my work... I want to achieve it through not dying.
    Woody Allen

  • Term limits (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04, 2012 @08:46PM (#40881859)

    Are a good thing.

  • by Swave An deBwoner (907414) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @08:47PM (#40881871)
    Why are they funding research that's already been published?

    Principal Investigator [wikipedia.org]

    Results and Discussion [wikipedia.org]

    Sex Also! [wikipedia.org]
  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Saturday August 04, 2012 @09:05PM (#40881979) Homepage Journal
    The headline really should specify that it is a private grant to study immortality. We're bound to get some people coming in here to bitch that the federal government is funding this (because after all even reading the summary is a lot to ask for some).
  • by Solandri (704621) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @09:41PM (#40882233)
    Be careful what you wish for [wikipedia.org].
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @11:54PM (#40883109) Homepage Journal

    Only an Anonymous Coward would endorse Mitt Romney.

    On a side note - We aren't all living forever, but this election season is making it feel like forever.

  • by PPH (736903) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @12:21AM (#40883319)

    So, I died and went to Heaven. When I arrived, St. Peter looked me up in his great book. "I see you haven't been entirely good when you were alive. It seems you killed a kitten when you were young. But don't worry. That's not enough to keep you out. However, as punishment, you will have to pleasure this woman for the rest of eternity." At this point, he introduces me to a fat, ugly, smelly old hag. I almost got sick. But hey, I made it to Heaven!

    A few months later, with this hideous broad in tow, I ran into CowboyNeal. And he was walking arm in arm with Megan Fox. "Not fair!" I thought. I knew CowboyNeal when he was alive. And I don't see how he rates such treatment. So I want to see St. Peter. St. Peter dusted off his great book and looked at several entries. "It seems", he said, "Megan killed a kitten when she was on Earth as well."

  • by williamhb (758070) on Sunday August 05, 2012 @06:42AM (#40885055) Journal

    That's not an answer. And I think you know it as well as I do.

    First, I'm quite familiar with computability and Godel's incompleteness theorems, and they have nothing at all to do with the question. There is absolutely nothing in them that implies AI is a fundamentally unsolvable problem. In fact, most AI researchers probably understand those subjects far better than you do - and they still consider AI to be a worthwhile problem to study.

    Second, the current state of the art in AI is irrelevant. You didn't just say there were things computers can't currently do. You said there are things no computer can ever do, no matter how powerful. That claim needs to be justified.

    Third, AI has actually been making dramatic progress in recent years. After decades of following paths that didn't lead anywhere, researchers have finally found some techniques that enabled major breakthroughs. If you want to see practical applications of that, just look at Watson or Siri or the like. A mere five years ago, both of those would have been science fiction. Today they're real.

    Ironically, the recent advances in "AI" were largely through stopping thinking about AI as building an artificial version of human cognition, and instead doing something with far fewer philosophical claims: statistically mining the heck out of big data.

In order to dial out, it is necessary to broaden one's dimension.

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