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May262015

2045 project immortality

PROJECT ‘IMMORTALITY 2045’ – THE RUSSIAN EXPERIENCE

A PRESENTATION GIVEN TO THE SINGULARITY SUMMIT HELD IN NEW YORK ON 15 OCTOBER 2011.

 

ITSKOV HAD BEEN DOING HIS THING FOR SEVEN MONTHS.

SO, MARCH 2011

 

 

What is project immortality by 2045?

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23.04.2015

Dmitry Itskov: www.Immortal.me - Want to be immortal? Act!

Fellow Immortalists!

Many of the daily letters that the 2045 Initiative and I receive ask the question: will only the very rich be able to afford an avatar in the future, or will they be relatively cheap and affordable for almost everyone?

I would like to answer this question once again: avatars will be cheap and affordable for many people,… but only if people themselves make every effort needed to achieve this, rather than wait until someone else does everything for them.

To facilitate and expedite this, I am hereby soft-launching a project today which will allow anyone to contribute to the creation of a ‘people’s avatar’… and perhaps even capitalize on this in the future. The project is named Electronic Immortality Corporation. It will soon be launched at http://www.immortal.me under the motto "Want to be immortal? Act!"

The Electronic Immortality Corporation will be a social network, operating under the rules of a commercial company. Instead of a user agreement, volunteers will get jobs and sign a virtual contract.

In addition to creating a ‘people’s avatar’, the Electronic Immortality Corporation will also implement various commercial and charitable projects aimed at realizing ideas of the 2045 Initiative, transhumanism and immortalism.

We will create future technologies that can be commercialized within decades (e.g. Avatar C) as well as implement ‘traditional’ business projects such as, for example, producing commercially viable movies.

Even the smallest volunteer contribution to the work of the Corporation will be rewarded by means of its own virtual currency that will be emitted for two purposes only: a) to reward volunteer work, and b) to compensate real financial investments in the company. Who knows, our virtual currency may well become as popular and in demand as Bitcoin.

The first steps are as follows:

First, we will establish an expert group, which will shape the final concept and the statutes of the Electronic Immortality Corporation.

Second, we will announce and organize two competitions: a) to create the corporate identity of the Electronic Immortality Corporation, and b) the code of the social network.

Third, we will form the Board of Directors of the Electronic Immortality Corporation.  There, we would like to see experienced businessmen with a track record of successfully implemented large projects.

Fourth, we will engage celebrities and public figures from around the world.

Therefore, if you…

- have experience in creating social networks, online games, gaming communities and are willing to discuss the final concept of the Electronic Immortality Corporation,

- are a brilliant designer,

- are a talented programmer with experience in developing large-scale and/or open source projects,

- are a businessman with experience in managing large companies and ready to participate in the Board of Directors of the Electronic Immortality Corporation or you know of such a person,

- are in contact with celebrities and ready to engage them in the Electronic Immortality Corporation;

and at the same time you desire to change the world, to build a high-tech reality, to participate in creating avatars and immortality technologies… if all of this is your dream and you are ready to serve it selflessly,

email us at team@immortal.me

Want to be immortal? Act!

 

Dmitry Itskov

Founder of the 2045 Initiative

 

 

 

 

Project 'Immortality 2045' - Russian Experience

 

Report of the "2045" Strategic Social Initiative founder Dmitry Itskov at the Singularity Summit 2011 on October 15th in New York.

"Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.  Before I begin, I would like to say that the vision I have for the future and mankind would be considered by many, if not most, to be bold.  Here, however, I am among like-minded people more so than anywhere else in the world.  That is why it is great pleasure to share my vision with you today. 

 Introduction

 I’m not a scientist and I’m not a philosopher. For the last 12 years, my work has been in media projects, particularly internet media. When I became interested in the idea of extending human life span and became a supporter of the idea of attaining immortality via the use of cybernetic technologies, I immediately understood how I could apply my experience. However, I've created a social movement and am working hard to promote this project not just because I have some understanding of how to do it. I'm also doing these things because they are necessary to make cybernetic immortality a reality.

There are already many functioning innovations in the world today, so we are not far from making this project a reality. And now more than ever, the idea has to be promoted publicly, so that its supporters will declare commitment to it and create a social mandate. Scientists who are ready to devote time to the project need for this to happen; philosophers who are ready to provide a rationale for the project need this to happen; everyone who is ready to get involved but is holding back needs this to happen.

It is scientists in particular who have proposed dozens of projects relevant to the movement who have formed the backbone of  Russia 2045[KO2] .  They have been joined by philosophers, public figures, and visionaries . Now my task is to make the project international. That is why I am here, telling you about the social movement Russia 2045. I have a clear picture in my head, and I believe that that is how things will be and must be.

I have limited time to speak, so I have to keep things short. But I would like to attest to the fact that the technical projects discussed in the presentation were created by professionals and represent our real plan of action. Some of the technologies presented already exist; others we plan to create within five to ten years; and still others modern science does not yet know how to create.

 [KO3] 
SLIDE 1

The social movement Russia 2045 was conceived of as a means of promoting the idea of humanity attaining cybernetic immortality. As the founders of the movement, we believe that these technologies in particular will provide the impulse that is so necessary right now to accelerate technological progress. It is cybernetic immortality in particular that will be able to grant people real freedom, including freedom from influence by the environment and the opportunity to explore the far reaches of space. Moreover, it’s possible that this scenario will become a reality sooner than other such possibilities for extending life span all the way to immortality.

But in order to make our project a reality, there need to be changes in the ethics, culture, and thinking of those who will sustain the steady development of civilization during and after the evolutionary transformation envisioned by the project.

 
SLIDE 2

On this slide, you can see the goals of our movement.

We believe that humankind is currently on the verge of a complete collapse of its value structures. Consumer[KO4] [KO5]  society is mostly concerned only with maintaining a comfortable existence and satisfying its desires. Science focuses on meeting people’s consumptive needs, and inventions that do not make an enormous profit are rejected—deemed nonviable, unnecessary. Our civilization, using modern means of transportation and communication, is incapable of liberating people from the constraints of a physical body, of eliminating disease and death. Consumer society provides corporations the opportunity to earn lots of money, but it never helps achieve a technological breakthrough. We are running in place (we are spinning our wheels) , even though we have the creative and intellectual capabilities to make many great discoveries.

We believe that the world needs a different ideological paradigm. We must formulate an overarching goal that will provide a new trajectory for development and that will facilitate a scientific and technological revolution.

For many days in a row now, people have been demonstrating in New York with cries of “Down with capitalism”. These cries give credence to the fact that the current capitalist model is undergoing a serious crisis. And there is every reason to believe that it will only intensify. We believe that the world needs a new social formation that can be based around the ideas of transhumanism[KO6] .

There’s a well-known aphorism: “Political action happens on the streets”. In order for us to take political action, we don’t have to take to the streets. We have to become the intellectual elite of the future—to want to develop technologies and to begin doing so; to build a model of the new world. The community that will be built within the framework of the 2045 project will bring people together, steeping them in the idea. Over time, a new generation of like-minded people will emerge, and out of that generation will grow a new political and scientific elite.

We need a revolution, but we don’t need a bloody revolution as there already was in the history of my country. We need a technological revolution, not street riots[KO7] .

 

 

 

 

Here
SLIDE 3

The next slide has information on what we’ve managed to accomplish in seven months of work.

Of course, the concept of immortality still inspires doubt in many scientists, though we have already moved past the stage of distrust and demonstrated the seriousness of our intentions. We have managed to move the discussion from the platitude “Is it possible or not?” to the platitude “Why does it need to be done?” We have come in earnest and are here to stay.

With or without governmental support, we will open a specialized center in Russia, and it will focus[KO8]  on developing the technologies needed to achieve the cybernetic immortality of a person. For the first time ever, anywhere in the world. We are confident that such a project can be carried out without government support, by bringing people together who are interested in the project through the Internet. But the government that supports the idea and invests in the project will in the future become the economic and political leader of the world. That is not my view alone— for example, British scientist Kevin Warwick stated the same hypothesis in an interview.

Here Itskov promises that he will set up a center in Russia to carry on his work. I have no idea whether this has happened.


SLIDE 4

This slide shows what our main areas of technical activity are.

The aim of the first project, known as “Avatar”, is the creation of a robot copy of a human being controllable through a “brain-computer” interface. When I’m asked to give the gist of this project, I tell people to recall the film “Surrogates”, which depicts a world in which every person has an artificial body that he controls remotely. The makers of that blockbuster put an accent on the negative side of such a scenario. Nonetheless, the film’s highly graphic demonstration of the idea allows one to get an immediate sense of what it is.

The Body B project - creation of a life-support system for the brain, a system that will link the brain to the outside world, and a method for transplanting the brain into an Avatar equipped to hold it.

Project RE-BRAIN is, in essence, a Russian project to reverse-engineer the brain. In the long term, we plan to create an artificial brain and transfer personality into it. In addition, we believe, that unorthodox idea related to the transferring of consciousness to an alternative substrate can be developed. 

There are different takes on how artificial bodies will advance further. There are a lot of different ideas out there. Raymond Kurzweil hypothesized that the human body will be able to take any form composable by nano-robots. But in our plan, the end goal, is an artificial body similar to a hologram.


SLIDE 5

What you see on the screen is specific projects to be carried out within the framework of the Avatar project.

By specialists’ estimates, the first avatar could be built within the next five to seven years—after all, many of the technologies have already been invented. Of course, in the early stages it will be a lot simpler than in the film. But even that is enough to turn the world upside down. Avatars will be able to be put to use by the Ministry of Emergency Situations, firefighters, police; avatars will replace the fragile human body in outer space. The avatar will even be able to serve as a business representative, traveling on business trips, signing contracts, etc. And its component parts will, without a doubt, be used in helping the disabled.

Yes, there are some problem areas in certain technologies—for instance, autonomous energy supply and the operating speed of brain-computer interfaces. Nonetheless, in five to seven years’ time, our project will have made so much progress that it will have a pivotal effect on how cybernetic technologies are perceived in society. It will significantly change the world and will become as popular as the automobile.

 We are aware that such technologies have undergone significant progress in the U.S. (thanks in part to the efforts of our compatriots who left Russia in the 1990s and 2000s) and that considerable advancements have been made in certain European countries. And we believe that joining forces will only help things. Why waste time inventing the wheel when the bicycle already exists?


SLIDE 6
[KON9] 

The main objective of the Body B project, as I said before, is to design and build a system of life support for the human brain and a system that will allow the brain to communicate with the external environment. This is the idea that our movement is criticized most for. But I am confident that there will be many people out there on the verge of death who will decide to extend their lives, buying some time with the help of this technology before we are able to accomplish the third part of our project.

There is already the Geminoid-DK android, which has a face that is indistinguishable from a person’s from only a few feet away. Technology is progressing, so why not prolong people’s lives in a body that, externally, is no different and is functionally almost the same[KON10] .

Russia has its own traditions in this area of research. Sergei Bryukhonenko is famous around the world for having been the first in the world to create a heart-lung machine. And Vladimir Demikhov, the father of transplantology, performed[KON11] [KON12]  several successful experiments in which he transplanted dog heads, resulting in a two-headed dog.


SLIDE 7

This is our project to reverse-engineer the brain. In September, the ReBrain project was presented at the Neuroinformatics 2011 conference in Boston by Witaly Dunin-Barkovsky. Once we have an understanding of how the human brain is organized and what human consciousness is, we will be able to transfer consciousness to a new, more advanced body.

Some hold the opinion that the intelligence of modern man is an artificial intelligence. The only remaining natural thing about it is its protein-based host—the brain. Taking that a step further, the human brain is simply an instrument for connecting consciousness with the body. And when we are able to create an artificial intelligence, an artificial brain, and transfer our personality into an artificial body, then we will have a unique creature: a superperson with superpowers.


SLIDE 8

Our upcoming plans include organizing an international conference called “Global Future 2045” that will be devoted to issues of modeling and predicting global dynamics, future scenarios for humankind, and universal history.

It’s no accident we have so many plans related to social networks and online resources. These measures will help to take discussion of the project global. And the more participants there are in the social movement—the more like-minded people the project gets involved—the faster we will be able to achieve results.

Our movement, just like any other complex and unusual project, provokes a great number of objections. For the most part, these are negative stereotypes held by society about immortality and cybernetic technologies. I am prepared to respond to each one of them.

 

Itskov, like Rothblatt, is very interested in making the push toward a new humanity a shared social enterprise. He sees mass participation as the best way for ideas to be developed and tested.


SLIDE 9

 1. “Only the elite will receive artificial bodies and attain immortality”

Our project is for all people. It is for that reason that we insist that all our technical plans remain open, and in consequence that the technologies themselves remain open. We will openly publish the results of our research—that is the project’s guiding principle.

Itskov understands that there is a common perception that such artificial bodies will cost money and that these developments could lead to an explosive social situation in which the 1% achieve immortality and the other 99% continue to die. Itskov is committed to what will in effect be a redistribution of wealth and a redistribution of immortality. When rich people buy immortality by investing large sums in the first generations of avatars this will help fund research into scaling the production of avatars upward thereby bringing down per unit costs.

 2. “The emergence of such technologies will lead to greater social stratification”

Artificial bodies will be available to all who want them. It is each individual’s choice whether to use new technology or to leave one’s life the way it is. These technologies will not lead to social stratification, but on the contrary, will decrease tensions—people will cease judging others by the color of their skin, by their belonging to one race or another.

People fear that when the 1% buy the avatars, the social chasm between haves and have-nots will deepen and broaden. Itskov however plans that no one who wants one will go without an artificial body. How he plans to accomplish this feat he does not say, but it is clear that it will take more than one generation for the democratization of immortality to come into effect.

He also says that when everyone can adopt an artificial body, characteristics like race/skin color that were once divisive will wilt and die because everyone will now understand that the way one body or another looks is purely a convention, now subject to the choice of the embodier.

Note: But what is few of the Immortals chose an African-American or Native embodiment. Could this cause social resentment among those who choose to stay with their ‘meat’ bodies?

Second Note: If, as Itskov hypothesizes, some people will choose to remain ‘organic’, won’t this create a potentially tragic social bifurcation between the super-smart super hero Immortals and the increasingly backward, clumsy, ‘naturals’, who are also mortal? Will medical research wither as only the slower members of society need expensive special care? And, as I wrote elsewhere, won’t Immortals rend to hang out with other Immortals? There isn’t even the possibility for a Romeo and Juliet star-crossed love affair between a mortal and a non-mortal, because in Itskov’s world enhancements that indefinitely prolong life, as well as turning one’s consciousness into a program, are always available. Romeo, if he were mortal, could get a procedure and become an Immortal --  if had the ready, which Itskov claims he would not need much of.

3. “These technologies will exhaust humanity’s resources and lead to demographic problems”

The technologies used to manufacture artificial bodies and to transfer human personality into them will not be based on oil and gas—they will be of a different nature. And if, with the help of cybernetic technologies, humankind is finally able to live in outer space, all demographic problems will be solved.

Itskov is planning that his avatars will need energy but not the standard fossil fuel. He says the energy to make them will be something else but he does not say what. Since, if we gave everyone an artificial body, we would have to manufacture 7,000,000,000 of them. Think of all the manufacturing facilities, distribution centers and transportation methods such a large ‘order’ would require, and one can see why people worried about sustainability might be exercised. There would also have to maintenance and repair facilities, showrooms, with dealerships, and fueling facilities for distributing whatever energy source these things would require.

The idea of shipping people to space colonies, since the artificial bodies could live without our atmosphere, seems reasonable, but setting up regular transportation between planets would also need a great deal of energy, not to mention how expensive it could be to set up and maintain colonies on distant celestial bodies, no matter how durable and environment-independent one’s avatars could become.

Creating a virtual world of online avatars would make vastly more sense. It requires far less energy, less planning, less manufacturing. 7,000,000,000 people could design their own avatars online, and there would be no need for factories, showrooms or fueling facilities. All we would need would be very numerous and powerful servers with a lot of redundancy.

4. “Death is a natural process”

Yes, our opponents say that “death is a natural process”. However, statistics are stubborn, and studies show that only two percent of people are ready to accept death.  A friend of mine once said on Facebook that everyone wants a new phone, a new car, a new laptop. But when a person has cancer, all he wants is to survive.

This is an odd answer. Itskov seems to be ‘arguing’ that because 96% of people do not want to die, that death is not a ‘natural process’, but something, on the contrary, unnatural.

He also cites an anecdote that purports to ‘prove’ that people want nothing but survival when survival is threatened. Thus because people do not want to die and think living is the greatest good, we must conclude that death is not natural –to consciousness—but is to the body. Thus Itskov is setting up a de facto dualism, in which there is something inherent in consciousness that wants to stay alive forever and at all costs, while there is something about the body that is inherently mortal and subject to death. We cannot help but think of Plato’s definition of death as the separation of the soul from the body. This seems to be the way Itskov is going even though he does believe that consciousness, as a set of functions, does require a mechanism.

\

 

5. “It will be impossible to transfer human consciousness to a non-biological substrate”

Throughout history, there have been a great many false beliefs held by both laymen and great scientists. Leibniz did not accept Newton’s theory of gravity, Galileo ignored Kepler’s laws of planetary motion

It is senseless in this day and age to say that something is technically possible or not; it is senseless to accuse us of idealism. We are setting the technological trajectory. These are the first steps toward making the 2045 project a reality, and every idea begins with a single step

 So—do not believe those who say that it is impossible to create an artificial brain or to transfer consciousness to an artificial body. The very statement “will never happen” contradicts the principles of science. Indeed, the technical means do not yet exist to accomplish the ultimate goals of the project—but new technologies are being invented all the time, and the possibilities are expanding. At one time, atomic energy seemed like science fiction and space travel farfetched. But not a single self-respecting scientist can say with confidence that there is no chance of an idea emerging in the next five to ten years that will make the impossible possible. It’s a question of time. And it’s a matter of making the effort and bringing people together.

Our project can become a national idea for every country and a global idea—it can unite people and governments. This project must be made possible.

Itskov’s response to the skeptical claim that replicating a human bio-brain is impossible resembles Rothblatt’s in the sense that neither thinks there is going to be a serious problem in developing the technology needed for such an eventuality. But their thinking about the issue is different. Rothblatt just assumes it is going to happen, and under her model, the Gemmell and Bell information-gathering model rather than the WBE – whole brain emulation model favored by such as Randal Koene and Max More –the tasks of developing both the hardware and software to make running a consciousness as a program possible are not overwhelming. For Itskov, who seems to think in terms of whole brain emulation – although this is not certain – the argument is that one ought never to say to scientists that X is impossible, not because they will then be provoked to prove the skeptic wrong, but because science is an inherently progressive enterprise that will, always, come up with just the idea that is needed to make something that could not happen yesterday an inevitability today. Itskov admits that we do not at present have the technical means to create and artificial mind but he is utterly confident that we soon will have that capability and is trying to organize as many people and as much financial support as he can to speed up the day when we can liberate ourselves from our biological prisons and embrace the immortality that our consciousness yearns for, is made for, and in a sense, deserves.

Rothblatt, on the other hand, is more sanguine about the ease with which artificial intelligence can be created but her orientation is also quite different. She is much more committed to what she calls ‘cyber-resurrection’ and ‘cyber-Heaven’, while Itskov seems committed to establishing Heaven on earth. His nearest approach to the spiritual is his proposal to instantiate consciousness in avatar holograms. But of late he has distanced this fourth avatar from his first three, keeping his Internet afterlife firmly on this side of ‘that Bourne’ from which, in Hamlet, the dead will never be able to return.

6. “The use of these technologies is not compatible with spiritual growth

Every technological breakthrough absolutely must be accompanied by an elevation of people’s values and an increase in awareness—otherwise, civilization will meet its downfall. This is a law of the development of civilizations. We, humans, will need to evolve intellectually and spiritually together with this project. In gaining our new capabilities, people will cease to be so dependent on their bodies and many things will open up spiritually.

People often respond to our message by saying, “We want to remain immortal in works of art, in people’s memories”. But immortality in iPhones, books, and in portraits of their inventors and creators is nothing more than an elegant metaphor. People live only to the point that they can no longer communicate, have control of something, have the ability to defend themselves in a court of law, develop physically, intellectually, spiritually.

We understand that even life of the universe is finite. So we want to reproduce our definition of immortality, some criteria, orienting points. And we will consider our goal achieved when technologies exist that allow us to extend human life span from 5,000 to 1,000,000 years. However, the choice remains in the hands of each individual.

 

Here, Itskov says three important things that are not entirely consistent one with the other. First he says that the effective desertion of the body will lead to greater possibilities for spiritual growth because, I guess, people will not be distracted by the demands of their bio-bodies. And doesn't that sound mighty Platonic! Shedding the body will allow us the possibility of becoming more moral and more ‘spiritual’, whatever that means. Itskov associates higher spirituality with higher ‘awareness’, by which I take him to mean awareness of the needs and rights of other beings. I say this because he asserts that if we do not take advantage of our imminent disembodiment to become more aware we will surely fail as a species.

But this de facto Platonic dualism is associated with two other ideas. Itskov says that whether we grow more aware or not, people really, really want to literally live forever. He criticizes the notion that people will ever be content with living through their legacies. People, he says bluntly, do not really live on in portraits, diaries, videos. He calls this kind of afterlife an “elegant metaphor”. He means that it is only when the ‘dead’ can control events, go to court to defend themselves, and otherwise live as genuine agents, rather than as powerless representations, that any sort of living is real. And it is only then, when the dead are alive, that they can become more aware and save humankind.

Finally, Itskov admits, somewhat surprisingly, that no matter what we do or want, this universe is finite. It will someday expire. So, our use of ‘immortal’ is context dependent. We might live as long as a million years, but Itskove thinks we can have no influence on the longevity of the universe, nor can we alter the universe to remove its ‘Sell by’ date. On this level, and despite his dualist tendencies, he is also a materialist who does not ultimately believe in ‘life everlasting’. Rothblatt is very different, because she believes that we can become genuinely, literally immortal by abandoning the physical universe to its fate and remaking it as a virtual world, a huge Program of Programs running on an endless feedback loop as the contents of a Meta-consciousness.


SLIDE 10

Here is an example of technology that is impossible to create at the present time.

Two American agencies—the defense agency DARPA and the science agency NASA—are developing the first interstellar space ship in the history of humankind. The spacecraft is set to be launched in 2111. According to the director of DARPA’s department of tactical technologies, David Neyland, work on that project will require scientists to “go out and tackle problems that will have you asking questions you didn't even know to ask at the beginning”.


SLIDE 11

Two powerful trends are currently converging: the evolution of the technological environment and the cyborgization of people. It’s clear that as technologies advance and the technology of brain-computer interfaces improves, people will be able to control machines with their thoughts. With the development of artificial organs and other systems, it will become possible to connect—or, I should say, to “embed”—additional terabytes of memory in a person, such that a person will be able to control a fantastic amount of resources, instantly sending and receiving information.

And the main problem that will be faced by this superbeing that humans could very soon become will be that its life span is too short. We don’t want to die. And anyone who answers “No” to the question “Do you want to be immortal” always says “Yes” to the same question with regard to their relatives. It’s clear that the refusal to accept the idea of cybernetic immortality is the result of a fear of their ego and the shock of the future. People are afraid because they cannot imagine what the future will look like. Our job is to show people what it will look like.

People are held back, by fear of change, inertia, refusal to accept the new. Those are the things keeping people from admitting their desire to live forever. 

 

Two trends:

 

  1. Technological evolution
  2. Cyborgization of people

 

Itskov sees no threat from either of these trends: what he mentions is controlling robots through one’s thoughts and imbedding new terabytes of information into people’s brains.

 

So, Itskov’s focus is on using science to create what he calls ‘super-beings’. His interest in life extension and cybernetic immortality stems from his hunch that the superbeings that the 2045 Initiative will help to create will find our paltry lifespans too short for their brilliant projects. Plus, no one really wants to die, which I. proves indirectly by citing the claim that although many of us might be loath to declare that we want to be immortal, none of us would not wish that for our relatives and friends. His meaning is clear. He believes that all of us would want for ourselves what we acknowledge that we want for our loved ones.

 

Thus, we are creating superbeings who can control robots with thoughts, who have vastly enhanced access to information, and who understandably want to live forever.

Itskov believes that many people are afraid of this good news because they do not understand, and cannot imagine, what it will be like. They would simply prefer not to think about it.

 

Itskov is filled with explanations. People, he asserts, suffer from fear of the new, of change. They prefer inertia, moving forward as they have always moved forward. But Itskov sees behind these fears. He knows that everyone, whether she admits it or not, “desire(s) to live forever.”

 

Slide 12 of his presentation sums up what he thinks will happen in what he calls “the third millennium”. It is or will be the era of “Neohumanity”. We see a hand, just visible in the darkness of space, lit by some star, reaching out to …. ?

 

There is a list of seven ‘Goals’ for Neohumanity:

 

This is actually one of the more important proposals to come out of practical H+. Once we define consciousness as a pattern of information/energy that is ultimately reproducible outside our bio-body, (but not outside any substrate), the need we have always experienced to have all of our agency and personal experience inside this body disappears.

One could with some justification argue that we have been moving out of our bodies for a few years already. Anyone who has gone to a Starbuck’s or sat in an airport waiting area knows that Sherry Turkle’s prescient book, Life on the Screen has come true, not quite as she envisioned it, but through people living through the screens of their smartphones and tablets, not, as Turkle imagined, inside their screens, in cyberspace. One could argue, as Andy Clark does, that we are ‘natural-born cyborgs’. Again this is not meant in the more complex sense that Haraway means ‘cyborg’ in her deservedly famous, and not often enough well-read, Manifesto. Rather, ordinary people who are secure in their gender roles, educational level, income and housing, and who are models of conventional inertia, in Itskov’s invidious sense, have extended their embodiment to include smartphones and tablets. They did not do this as an act of existential rebellion against a dualist patriarchy. They did it because both phones and tablets work.

4..To extend our environment to multi-reality.

 

Again, once we liberate consciousness from this body we also liberate it from the world in which this body lives. Let’s be clear. Itskov is not rejecting any form of embodiment for the neohuman consciousness. From Locke on it has been clear that minds need substrates. All he is saying – and that is a lot, but not exactly what some critics understand, is the neohuman body can, like Haraway’s cyborg, reject its history, its origin in the garden, and live in worlds in which gender, human/animal and human/machine all exist and in which the boundaries among the natural kinds are differently conceived and differently drawn. Each iteration of the neohuman ‘body’ will be embodied. We are not talking about invisible souls here – but no one kind of body will be privileged.

    At the same time we want to reiterate the ‘materialism’ Itskov embraces. If consciousness were a self-contained rational soul, it would, as Plato makes clear in Phaedo, be internally unified, without parts, and therefore not able to reduced to a pattern that could be digitized. Platonic souls and the Cartesian res cogitans are not programs, nor are they, strictly speaking, programmable. This is a little unclear. If part of the pattern that gets digitized is the algorithms according to which reasoning operates, then it seems as if the soul or Descartes’ thinking things, are systems of rules that can in principle be replicated as a digital program. This would certainly be true for the Kantian understanding that operates by the algorithmic categories and less strictly algorithmic, but still rule-like, schemata. But what might not be programmable is Kant’s transcendental unity of apperception, the meta-systemic ‘I think’ that accompanies all use of judgment and relates it all back to being the activity of a single unitary consciousness.

    In any event Itskov is not saying that identities are transcendent. Patterns are always patterns of or in a medium in which patterns can occur. What he is saying that once we reach a sufficient level of technological sophistication we can free consciousness from dependence on this body, without ever saying that we might not return to real or simulated versions of this body for a variety of reasons and purposes.

 

 But I got off on a tangent there. Most of what I wrote above properly belongs under Goal Three, and I will return it there when I choose.

 

    But the real nub of Goal 4 is that in the future we will “extend our environment to multi-reality.”

What does this mean? If we create superbeings, either as android nanobot swarms or holograms, or, something Itskov does not discuss, as online avatars (he seems at times to believe that such representations would be just that – representations, replicas, Gemmell and Bell philosophical zombies), then they will also, and very soon, want worlds that we cannot provide in this world. Just as CGI has shown us, in a purely entertaining sense, how the contours of the world might be redrawn, had we far more power to shape our environment, so new advances in virtual reality technology will provide other worlds in which these new superbeings can find things more to their liking. Or, and this might be more in line with Itskov’s this-worldly approach to such issues, the superbeings will want to spearhead deep space exploration. This enterprise will offer them the alternative reals that they crave. As we leave the bio-body we must also leave the world in which that body developed and lived its life. Perhaps we will even find inter-systemic wormholes and visit other parallel universes with alternative dimensional and time systems. See Interstellar. In any event future neohuman superbeings will live in several realities at once. As in Rothblatt, in Itskov’s world identity can be distributed across several realities without losing its unity.

 

This requires clarification. In a straight-forward sense, Itskov has been talking about BCIs since discussion of Avatar A. He means and does not mean that level of reality control. Yes, the principle is consistent. Through proper training we will be able to make things move just as people with prosthetic hands can make the hands move. But here is the question, and it is a big one. If every instance of BCI that we know involves controlling an artificial something-or-other, a made thing designed for such mind control, is Itskov proposing that in the future we will have extended our mastery of nature so far that, knowing how things are put together, we will be able to devise the right signals so that we can manipulate ‘natural’ objects at will? Or is he saying, instead, that if the realities we create for the superbeings we will become are made rather than found, then we will design alternative, virtual reals in which our thoughts are hard-wired as controllers into the very being of the world we create? In that case, when we put on different bodies we might be entering worlds in which we run everything, like a god, simply by thinking that things be this way or that. At the very least Itskov is sketching out an Internet, or cybernetic, afterlife as exotic as anything Rothblatt is proposing.

 

Now this sounds like an afterlife! What does Itskov mean? When we become super-intelligent, omni-capable superbeings that can create objects that they can control by thought alone, the next natural progression is to craft worlds that are explicitly designed to carry such control into action. But one immediate limitation of such controllable worlds is that they will be populated by more than one super-being and once there is more than one present the super-beings will inevitably end up contesting with each other over who should control what bits of reality and for how long. If two or more super-beings want to control Reality – A at the same time, there could be trouble. Whatever the circumstances creating shared controllable reals invites conflict. Better, in the long run, to make a self-contained virtual (or, real?) universe for each individual, into which he can disappear as she chooses,  to do or not do whatever she chooses, without  that decision having any effect on what her fellow neohumans are up to. Giving everyone her own universe is like giving everyone her own ultrabook or tablet or smartphone. There can be shared real and virtual spaces but each individual will also have a special, sacred space to call her own.

 


SLIDE 12

We are planning to transform Russia 2045 into a global movement, with the name “Neohumanity 2045”. In this slide I would like to show you my vision of the objectives for Neohumanity for the next thousand years. While you look them over, I will say a few words.

There is a long history of tense relations between our countries, Russia and the U.S. There is a history of competition in space technology, the history of the cold war and the arms race. I would like to propose we start a new race—a race to attain immortality. It will be the first positive project, one that does not make relations worse but improves them. We will come together for the first time in order to do something so useful and good. Common sense must trump egotism. Instead of inventing new threats to people’s health and lives, we for the first time will think about how to preserve life. For the first time, our competition will be for a good cause. And it’s not important who wins. What’s important is that people get to live as long as they want. All humanity will benefit from this.


SLIDE 13

And now, back from the future to the present. On the screen you can see the planned structure of the project for the next 10 years.

I would like to sum up the presentation and to recall the words of a famous scientist and a man I respect, Stephen Hawking, to whom I would to give one of the first avatars I create: “All the possible separate universes exist simultaneously in a state of quantum superposition. When you decide to take a measurement, you choose a subset of histories from the range of possibilities, and those histories share specific measurable parameters. The history of the universe that you perceive is chosen from that subset of histories. In other words, you choose the past.”  I would go further and add, that in this you choose the future also.  

Call me a romantic, but if we all decide that we want to live in a world in which people are immortal and truly free, then we will end up in such a world. We need to gather a critical mass of people who think in the same way. When we all decide that that’s what we want, our ideas will begin to be realized. So, let’s get together and live in a reality in which we will live forever. It’s our right. If someone does not like the new free world, let them stay in whichever world they want. But they shall not challenge our right to be free and immortal.

This is my dream and I’m ready to devote my life to it. Right now, in this place there are probably more like-minded people present than ever before. There are also like-minded journalists here. I suggest that we take advantage of this opportunity and declare our intentions to change the word.   And I ask to consider my speech an open invitation to all world leaders and the head of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon to consider our ideas and to recognize its social significance".

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Other author's articles:

Make a Mark in History. Address to Members of Forbes Richest ListWe Must Turn From an Internet-Community into a Real ForceThe future of civilization is in our hands! Address to supporters of the Movement's ideasDmitry Itskov's Response to a Series of Media Publications Regarding Religion

 




SLIDE 13

 


 [KON1]

Ĥ [KO2]It starts out as ‘Russia 2045’, then becomes the 2045 Initiative, before the GF2045 meeting in 2013.

 [KO3]The first slide takes us back to Itskov’s business roots in ‘New Media Stars’. In late 2010 his company interviewed 24 scientists about ways to prolong life.

How to?

-         Artificial organs

-         Artificial human body

- simulation of a brain and mental processes

               -transferring one’s mind to an artificial carrier

 

 [KO4]Itskov believes that humanity = 100% collapse of values.

 

Why? This is not clear because Itskov is not clear.

First he seems tro blame the collapse of values – not of economic life, or the environment, but values – on consumerism which, he says, values only comfortable existence and satisfy desires.

And he says that people will only support new inventions if they can become consumables.

Other inventions just don’t get funded.

 

The most striking illustration of this is the following:

We have modern means of transportation and communication but we are “incapable of liberating people from the constraints of a physical body, of eliminating disease and death.”

Ẅ [KO5]He is saying something we did not expect and the thing he is saying is itself logically fractured, at least in tension with itself.

First, one would expect I. to write that even though we are smart enough and organized enough to create reliable worldwide systems of transportation and communication, we have paid little attention to the plight of the suffering. But this is not what he writes. Rather, he says that where we are failing is in not liberating people from their bodies altogether, and therefore, by logical extension, from all suffering, and from death.

Itskov is complaining that consumer pressure for technology that provides immediate gratification stops companies from investing in projects that will make us immortal.

 

Thus his objection is not that consumerism leads to self-centered desire, but rather that it is the demand for immediate gratification that blinds people to the greater self-centered pleasure, that of living forever. It is not that Itskov is not a hedonist or that he objects to consumerism. He is just opposed to short-sighted hedonism because it does not generate enough good things, or, the ultimate good thing in a culture based on individual gratification.  

 [KO6]Here Itskov overtly identifies with H+. He refers to the Occupy Movement agitation in New York and attributes it to the crisis that capitalism is suffering, one that he thinks will only get worse.

 [KO7]Itskov makes it clear that he wants a revolution, but not one that happens in the streets and that sheds blood.

 [KO8]He

 [KON9]Here we see what Avatar B would look like. Itskov is well aware that when he tries to implant a working organic brain into a non-biological medium he will face the challenge of maintaining that brain In a healthy state. This means that liquid, oxygen, nutrients – all heavy, plastic and perishable with the exception of water – have to be stored in the robot, and delivery systems installed to get the necessary stuff to the energy-hungry brain. Such a robot needs more weight and stronger joists than one made of light metals, plastics and silicon. It also needs a complex redundancy system so that if one nutrient/oxygen system shuts down, there will be immediate backups.

Once the brain gets its food and air, and a safe home suspended in nutrient rich but also shock-absorbing liquid, it needs access to the outer world.

Its organic head is gone. No eyes, nose or ears, no tongue, and no body with limbs, hands and feet, genitalia, etc.

This requires two things: first we have to create a digital environment that will deliver electrical/electrochemical signals to the brain so that it can react ‘normally ’to the stimuli that cameras, microphones and so forth are generating.

 [KON10]“Why not prolong people’s lives in a body that, externally, is no different and is functionally almost the same.”

Here Itskov could be accused of exaggerating when he claims that we currently have androids that look so much like real people that one cannot tell the difference from more than a few feet away.

Also, is he minimizing the difficulty of getting the brain and its robotic android successfully connected?

 [KON11]Here is the weird Russian dimension to this – Demikhov’s Dogs.

 [KON12]

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