Do you want to live forever? Are you on Forbes' World Billionaire List? Holy crap, have we got an opportunity for you.
Entrepreneur Dmitry Itskov and a team of Russia's leading scientists want to make humans immortal. They call it the 2045 initiative, and they plan to create a fully functional, holographic human avatar, complete with an artificial brain chock full of your own thoughts, passions, fears, opinions, emotions and memories. Your total conscious — and, presumably, subconscious — being. Their deadline is 2045.
The project milestones are depicted in the image up top. And yes, Itskov and his colleagues are completely serious. Completely serious, and in need of money:
"Honorable businessmen and businesswomen, members of the Forbes richest list: human life is unique and priceless," writes Itskov in an open letter to the world's 1,226 wealthiest citizens. "It is only when we have to part with life do we realize just how much we have not done, that we have not had enough time to do what we really wanted or to address something we've done wrong." He continues:
I urge you to take note of the vital importance of funding scientific development in the field of cybernetic immortality and the artificial body. Such research has the potential to free you, as well as the majority of all people on our planet, from disease, old age and even death.
Contributing to cutting-edge innovations in the fields of neuroscience, nanotechnology and android robotics is more than building a brighter future for human civilization, but also a wise and profitable business strategy that will create a new and vibrant industry of immortality - limitless in its importance and scale. This kind of investment will change every aspect of business as we know it: the pharmaceutical industries, transportation, medicine, energy generation, construction techniques, to cite a few.
If it sounds crazy to you, that's because it is. Totally, absolutely, batshit crazy. Then again, we live in a time of rocket-powered sky cranes and artifically enhanced super-athletes — who's to say Itskov and co. aren't on to something revolutionary, here? Ray Kurzweil, for one, is convinced. The question, now, is whether Itskov can get the money he needs to deliver on his goals. Fundraising results aside, the 2045 Initiative has a very, very long road ahead of it; the world's most advanced brain-machine interfaces are, after all, still incredibly rudimentary, nevermind the implications of actually building a human brain.
Then there's that whole issue of mortality. Who among us really, truly, actually wants to live forever? It's an important question, with strong supporting arguments for both camps, but for thousands of years it's been a purely hypothetical scenario. Is it time we started taking it a little more seriously?