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Science Technology

Dmitry Itskov Wants To Help You Live Forever Via an Android Avatar 383

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new-body dept.
trendspotter writes in with the latest news about the 2045 Project. "If Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov has his way, the human lifespan will soon no longer depend on the limitations of the human body. Itskov, a Russian tycoon and former media mogul, is the founder of the 2045 Project — a venture that seeks to replace flesh-and-blood bodies with robotic avatars, each one uploaded with the contents of a human brain. The goal: to extend human lives by hundreds or thousands of years, if not indefinitely."
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Dmitry Itskov Wants To Help You Live Forever Via an Android Avatar

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  • by AbsoluteXyro (1048620) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @12:33AM (#43992343)
    Death is not a bug, it's a feature. It's the only way we get rid of old assholes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And also the young ones. Being an asshole has nothing to do with age!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You're next granddad.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sahonen (680948)
      Yeah, I think the effort of space colonization and life extension would be more appropriately put toward making the human race *worthy* of exploring the universe and living forever.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 13, 2013 @01:14AM (#43992503)

        What would that mean and is there any reason why both goals are mutually exclusive? Certainly not every great rocket scientist would be great at psychology or ethics. The good thing about living forever is that you have a lot more time to fix the problems.

        I just hate this "we aren't worthy" atitude. We sure haven't done everything right. Far from. But life has only become more peaceful and in general a lot has improved. Many deaths in the stone age were actually from tribal wars. We no longer solve our problems through violence as often as we used to do. It has however become much more public. We will hopefully continue to improve.

      • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @04:10AM (#43993079)

        According to who? Will you be the judge of this worthiness? Have you figured out objective good and bad then? Marvellous.

        I'm really growing weary of smug misanthropic assholes who quite comfortably apply negative attributes to billions of unique individuals to either excuse their own shortcomings or justify a vague sense of superiority. You know who's "worthy" to explore the universe and live forever? People who explore the universe and live forever.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @01:00AM (#43992431) Journal

      Death is not a bug, it's a feature. It's the only way we get rid of old assholes.

      Hypothetically, if we were implementing immortality-by-simulation, couldn't we resort to Instance dungeons [wikipedia.org]? No reason why all the avatars have to coexist in one self-consistent reality, when we could instead fork the annoying ones off into an eternal 'The Good Old Days' where they can live out their crabbed fantasies in fuzzy black and white forever...

      (Of course, if somebody's reality is dependent on simulation, and the requirement of self-consistency across all the simulants is dropped, you could could also theoretically cut the priority of everyone within a given instance, and run the in-sim passage of time at less than real time. As long as they don't have access to external timebases, they shouldn't even be able to tell.

    • I think if you asked Itskov about that, he'd probably say something along the lines of "given enough time to live, people get other priorities besides being assholes." He's a reformed Russian oligarch, for fnord's sake; it's hard to get more proof-of-concepty than that.

      ...that being said, it certainly would slow down social change.

      But, hey, his timeline includes Surrogates [imdb.com] in two years. Probably not something that'll really happen.

    • by TemperedAlchemist (2045966) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @02:27AM (#43992741)

      In a somewhat inspirational essay This is Water, David Foster Wallace deconstructs this kind of thinking into what it really is: a limited and narrow worldview where only you are the focus and others are "in your way".

      Humorously, xkcd [xkcd.com] points out that everyone else tends to think the exact same thing. That they're the brilliant, smart one and everyone else is a stupid and mindless automaton. It can only stem from a complete lack of empathy. Perhaps that driver who is going ten mph below the speed limit has general anxiety disorder and is only trying to get to work to the best of his ability.

      Everyone else is stupid and you're the brilliant one... Except you're not.

      Sir Ken Robinson [ted.com] lays out a pretty convincing reason why. Or I can simply fall back on an old Einstein quote about judging fish climbing trees.

    • by TheLink (130905)
      It's a feature even if you aren't an asshole.

      Living forever is only going to be good under certain conditions. Otherwise it could be never-ending torture.

      I daresay most (if not all) of us aren't mentally stable enough to enjoy even a billion years alive. The first thousand years maybe, but a billion years?

      And even if you can manage a billion, imagine after a few billion when the last stars have gone dark and you're still alive. What would you do for the rest of your never-ending life? You've not even reache
    • But crazy billionaires are the best chance for all of us to reach the Singularity! I feel a little ill after typing that.
    • by dcw3 (649211) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @07:51AM (#43993981) Journal

      When you're an old asshole, you'll learn to understand why we all get that way. At 54, there are physically a lot of things I just can't do nearly as well as only a few years ago. Most of us end up in some sort of chronic pain...knee and shoulder for me. We're pissed off that the inevitable end is nearing. And, we have to put up with young assholes, who think they know everything, when they've had very little life experience.

      Now, get the fuck off my lawn.

  • Ok, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 13, 2013 @12:35AM (#43992357)

    Unless you can transfer your consciousness you're still going to be dead.

    • Re:Ok, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bondiblueos9 (1599575) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @12:47AM (#43992397)
      Perhaps your consciousness could be transferred into an electronic brain the same way it was transferred from your brain several years ago to your current brain: cell by cell. If you could design an electronic brain that was identical to a biological brain and could replace it piece by piece and continue to function in the same way, then presumably you would never notice the transition.
      • Not saying it's not possible but I'm pretty sure that won't work.

        You are the connections of your cells.

        So you would need to create a duplicate of the cells and then duplicate the connections-- and I think the connections are analog with multiple values.

      • Re:Ok, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @01:01AM (#43992435)

        Perhaps your consciousness could be transferred into an electronic brain the same way it was transferred from your brain several years ago to your current brain: cell by cell.

        FYI, brains don't progressively replace themselves like some organs do. You have almost all the neurons you'll ever have when you're born. There was a story here a few days ago about the discovery of a small region of the hippocampus that does generate new cells, unlike most of the rest of the brain.

        Your post also brings up another interesting thought, a question raised by ancient philosophers. Suppose Jason comes home on the Argo and props it up on blocks to keep for a souvenir. As the years go by, whenever a plank rots he replaces it with a new one. Does it stop being the Argo at some point?

        • Perhaps your consciousness could be transferred into an electronic brain the same way it was transferred from your brain several years ago to your current brain: cell by cell.

          FYI, brains don't progressively replace themselves like some organs do. You have almost all the neurons you'll ever have when you're born. There was a story here a few days ago about the discovery of a small region of the hippocampus that does generate new cells, unlike most of the rest of the brain.

          Your post also brings up another interesting thought, a question raised by ancient philosophers. Suppose Jason comes home on the Argo and props it up on blocks to keep for a souvenir. As the years go by, whenever a plank rots he replaces it with a new one. Does it stop being the Argo at some point?

          and if not and he then later reassembles all of the old rotten beams which is the real argo?

          • and if not and he then later reassembles all of the old rotten beams which is the real argo?

            I think the witch test would actually work here: drop them in water, and if sinks it's the real thing.

          • by Jamu (852752)

            It stops being the Argo in toto the moment the first plank is replaced and it becomes mostly the Argo. Eventually there is no Argo, except for all the parts that have been removed, assuming they still exist. Maybe consciousness works the same way, and eventually the new you will have nothing in common with the you of the past. Perhaps it would be like knowing you were once another person, but not remembering what it was like.

        • by Agent ME (1411269)

          The molecules that make up the cells and neurons still swap out regularly.

      • by Molochi (555357)

        A copy of you is a duplicate of you. It still isn't you. You still die and cease to exist.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @12:49AM (#43992407) Journal

      Unless you can transfer your consciousness you're still going to be dead.

      Spending your waning years of weakness, decay, and degradation, plagued by the constant cruel mockery of your ageless immortal doppelganger is just a fun extra feature!

    • Unless you can transfer your consciousness you're still going to be dead.

      the idea is a pretty usual one though.

      it's the execution that's the hard part - with fundamental problems we can't touch yet.

      Someone just found a billionaire willing to part with millions for nothing in return.

      • There are no fundamental laws that say it cannot be done. It's just an engineering problem. Engineering problems can be solved with a combination of time and gigantic piles of money.

        • by lxs (131946) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @05:20AM (#43993383)

          Despite Dan Dennett handwaving the whole matter and declaring that consciousness in an illusion (but fails to define who or what is falling for that illusion), nobody has the faintest clue what consciousness is, which makes it more than an engineering problem.

          • The question was answered long ago - people are just really unwilling to accept the answer. Consciousness isn't magical, there is no mystic force animating the mind. Just the brain doing its thing, no more.

            • by The Cat (19816) * on Thursday June 13, 2013 @08:15AM (#43994113)

              There's nothing more entertaining than a random collection of chemicals that, according to itself, crawled out of the muck 5 minutes ago in cosmic terms and is now going to lecture the universe on how things are.

              You don't know dick. In cosmic terms, the human race is a toddler that has just now learned the lights go on when the switch is up, and off when the switch is down. Our "engineers" are the toddler that flips the light on and off repeatedly while making a noise like "huhuHUHUHuHuHuHUUhuUHUHUhuuH"

              Any scientific pronouncements uttered by humanity are chuckled at by the cosmos and the various advanced beings in it the same way adults chuckle at a toddler who marches around the house wearing a pasta strainer on their head.

              The human race can't even feed itself and wipe its own ass yet. Get the fuck over yourself.

            • It's not the brain alone though. It's the sum of you. There is a somatic context. Recreating that somatic context with an artificial construct may be possible but we have no real understanding of what that does to self awareness.

              I'm not aware of any broad psychological studies on people before and after accidents where large parts of their body has been lost or replaced. Are those people the same or radically different? Are the known psychological changes a result of the trauma, loss of functionality in the

          • by Agent ME (1411269)

            If a digital copy of you is made, and the copy can't figure out any reason its consciousness isn't valid and wouldn't even know if it's a copy if it wasn't told, and still had the same mental faculties of the original, what's the issue? If you can't even notice losing the real consciousness then I don't think the "real consciousness" matters all that much.

    • by Molochi (555357)

      That's always been my argument when this idea comes up. Though if you want to have a legacy of You, it might be better than children.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 13, 2013 @12:40AM (#43992377)

    Another idiot that doesn't realize the difference between a copy and themself.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @12:47AM (#43992401) Journal

      Another idiot that doesn't realize the difference between a copy and themself.

      What if you implemented the copy by gradual replacement [wikipedia.org]?

    • by Bremic (2703997) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @01:28AM (#43992561)

      More than this, if you copy yourself to a different vessel, your memories get copied. This will include the movies and television you have seen and the music you have listened to.

      Copying of movies, television and music in any format is big bad evil according to the wonderful US legislators who take lots of money from record companies and movie studios - so backing yourself up is a copyright violation.

      This will be important to remember when the uber wealthy (probably the executives of the same record companies and movie studios) back themselves up. Because then we charge them with illegal copyright violations and get them to vacate their new bodies. Of course by then they will give each other free distribution rights and use it as a hammer to stop the "irrelevant plebs" from ever being able to save themselves.

    • by meerling (1487879)
      If it's a perfect mental copy, you wouldn't even be able to tell the difference, nor could anyone else. At that point, if the copy is indistinguishable from the original, is it really a copy?
      Other than philosophy, the answer is no, it's no longer a copy, rather they are both undifferentiated duplicates of each other. Sure the body is no longer biological, but society has been moving to the concept that the self is the mind not the body for a very long time. Otherwise all the fiction about body swaps would b
      • The first uploads would be test subjects. The second batch would be the mega-rich, because only they would be able to afford it at first. The mega-rich have lobbyists and friends in high places - they'll sort the legal issues out. It may involve workaround like a trust fund required to act upon the orders of the upload, until such time as they can get a law passed to recognise them as effectively living humans.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      Another idiot that doesn't realize the difference between a copy and themself.

      if the old one is destroyed and the new copy can't tell the difference, then it's as good as being you.

      but it's largely theoretical. technical hurdles before doing this can be done are fairly large. so large that in fact funding this directly makes no sense at all, no sense.

    • by luckymutt (996573)
      Kinda like how, for example, after 30 days you have completely replaced all of your skin cells with copies? Yet your skin is still part of yourself every 30 days?
    • by Dexter Herbivore (1322345) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @03:37AM (#43992951) Journal

      Another idiot that doesn't realize the difference between a copy and themself.

      Define "self".

      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        Define "self".

        Noun:
        A person's essential being that distinguishes them from others, esp. considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action.
        Pronoun:
        Oneself, in particular.
        Adjective:
        (of a trimming or cover) Of the same material and color as the rest of the item: "a dress with self belt".
        Verb:
        Self-pollinate; self-fertilize.
        Synonyms:
        noun. ego - person
        pronoun. oneself - itself - himself - myself - yourself - herself
        adjective. uniform

      • by dinfinity (2300094) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @04:49AM (#43993277)

        This is the only truly insightful comment in this thread.

        Everybody is so hung up on the pervasive illusion of a spatiotemporally continuous consciousness that they forget that nothing on any reasonable macro level even exists without a definition.

        For some definitions of 'you', you didn't exist a minute ago. For others, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that there are multiple instances of 'you'. It just happens that those definitions are not as useful to work with in daily life. It is more effective for an organism to have any instance of consciousness feel responsible for the next one that may arise in it and the ones that previously arose in it. We can't prove that our current consciousness is 'the same' as it was yesterday. We can only define that it is.

        Which leads to the only reasonable conclusion: You define whether 'you' die in copy/teleportation thought experiments.

        • This is the only truly insightful comment in this thread.

          Everybody is so hung up on the pervasive illusion of a spatiotemporally continuous consciousness that they forget that nothing on any reasonable macro level even exists without a definition.

          For some definitions of 'you', you didn't exist a minute ago. For others, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that there are multiple instances of 'you'. It just happens that those definitions are not as useful to work with in daily life. It is more effective for an organism to have any instance of consciousness feel responsible for the next one that may arise in it and the ones that previously arose in it. We can't prove that our current consciousness is 'the same' as it was yesterday. We can only define that it is.

          Which leads to the only reasonable conclusion: You define whether 'you' die in copy/teleportation thought experiments.

          I always consider myself a new person each day. The previous day's person died when he went to sleep. It's a great defense in court, too. "Your Honor, I'm not the guy who committed that murder, he died that night. And if you lock me up, you'll be unjustly punishing an endless series of people who achieve consciousness in this body each day."

      • by Agent ME (1411269)

        I like how the recent movie Oblivion handled it. You are your memories and personality.

    • "I don't want to achieve immortality by copying my brain to the cloud. I want to achieve immortality by not dying!"
      -- adapted from Woody Allen

    • Another idiot that doesn't realize the difference between a copy and themself.

      In this case, it's not even a copy, it's a simulation. In any case, all of us are already biological copies of ourselves, since our cells are constantly being replaced.

      Just to be safe thought, I think we should all GPL ourselves, so we don't become the exclusive personal property of this Russian media mogul. I would hate to have my sole remaining copy/derivative of myself spend the rest of its eternity in servitude on some Russian guy's iPod shuffle.

    • by EdZ (755139)
      Ah, a Dualist in the wild!
  • Any guesses? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @01:05AM (#43992457) Journal

    How long before existing ransomware is adapted to these bold robotic avatars, and the infected get the exciting opportunity to not have the sensation of full-body chemical burns replayed on loop in exchange for a modest and reasonable payment by Western Union?

    • Greg Egan covered that in a short story. Some nefarious types got hold of a scan of his (still-living) wife, ran a simulation of her and subjected it to torture. I think he paid up in the end.
  • Transporters (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @01:11AM (#43992479)

    ISTM that Star Trek transporters are a type of 3D scanner/printer. But somehow they have to get your hundred-trillion synapses to connect the right cells, and at the right connection strength. Possibly even the current neural firing patterns, since when you get 'printed' you immediately have all your facilities and remember what you were up to when you got into the transporter.

    I don't think that's ever going to be possible. But if it was, would the end result still be you, or just an artificial twin?

    If transporter technology was feasible, they should be able to keep the original and print the copy using the contents of the refrigerator. I suppose that, like forking a process, it wouldn't be easy for the participants to tell who is the original and who is the copy, but I wouldn't expect them to share a common consciousness.

    • In a sense this already goes on with our bodies throughout our lives. We don't have any of the cells we started off with when we were born, for example. So technically we already are copies of a copy of a copy ...
      • We don't have any of the cells we started off with when we were born, for example.

        Except brain cells, I was given to understand.

  • ...and not one question about how long it would take the NSA to get a court order allowing them to copy your memories from whatever system you have them coppied to?

    • Re:22 posts... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @01:35AM (#43992585)

      ...and not one question about how long it would take the NSA to get a court order allowing them to copy your memories from whatever system you have them coppied to?

      Apparently they don't need to get a court order anymore. (Some people are saying that *that* is the real scandal.)

  • Who'd want to live forever on a someone's smart phone?

  • by MSG (12810)

    The goal: to extend human lives by hundreds or thousands of years, if not indefinitely

    Yes, if you don't know how long lives will be extended, it will be indefinite. That's what indefinite means.

  • If you were to really make a 100% perfect copy of a yourself, which one would be you? Each copy would, certainly initially, feel and think exactly the same, and would object to being destroyed. This, I think is a strong argument against the idea that one can truly "transfer" a person in this way.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      A wise man would plan to give his "flesh" self a long and pleasant life after the copying process, too.

  • by luther349 (645380) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @03:39AM (#43992959)
    even if you managed to copy my brain and put it into a new body the original is still dead.
    • As per usual if you RTFA you would see that the first goal in 2020-2025 is to transfer the actual brain to an avatar. Have been following this project for the last year, there are a lot of big names showing interest in this. The article even mentions a few really big ones that are yet to announce their support publicly, no doubt due to the plebs being frightened of new magic..
  • ...can I be the only one who immediately thought of this [androidify.com] and got very confused?

  • ...I'm only half way through Permutation City!

  • I think it is good that someone comes up with an idea that seems so outrageous and so far fetched that it is really challenging to aim for.

    We need another "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, t

"But this one goes to eleven." -- Nigel Tufnel

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