FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE 2045 INITIATIVE
What is the 2045 Initiative?
The 2045 Initiative is a nonprofit organization with the goal of creating a network community with the world’s leading scientists in the field of life extension by means of the cybernetic technologies and to support them as an investment hub, contributing to various projects.
This initiative produces an annual congress – “Global Future 2045”. The first took place February 17-20 in Moscow, and the next will be held in New York, June 2013.
Who’s the founder of 2045?
Dmitry Itskov founded the initiative in 2011 as a global network of scientists global pursuing the goal of cybernetic immortality.
What are the main phases of the Avatar Project?
Among the featured life-extension projects, the first is to create a humanoid robot dubbed “Avatar”, and a state-of-the-art brain-computer interface system. The next phase consists of creating a life support system for the human brain and connect it to the “Avatar”. The final phase of this project is to create an artificial brain in which to transfer the original individual consciousness into.
There is a fourth step that we hope to attain, but is not part of our main goals right now. This fourth step is to create a hologram body, or a body of light.
What makes you think technology will develop fast enough to enable the type of advancement you envision by 2045?
The development of technology in the modern world is happening exponentially. Everyone knows about Moore's Law, whereby the power of computers doubles every eighteen months. In addition, in the conference «Future Talks», held in October 2010 in Vienna, futurologist Ray Kurzweil, known for his accurate predictions of technological developments, suggested that by the mid-2040's all the organs of the human body could be replaced by artificial ones, whose characteristics will be superior to their biological counterparts by all measures.
Similarly, other scientists believe that the middle of this century will be the point of singularity. For example, Alexander Panov in Russia and Australian Graeme Snooks independently found that the qualitative transitions in the history of our civilization take place in the accelerated mode, and at about 2045, humanity must enter a certain mode of evolutionary singularity, beyond which it becomes difficult to make predictions. In short, many exciting developments await us in the middle of this century, and all of them, inevitably, will be linked to the developments of new technology.
In this century alone we’ve witnessed a lot of technological shifts and there is no reason to believe that our goal is unattainable if you look at the accelerating technological progress.
What is the best implementation of this type of technology (artificial intelligence) today in both consumer (Siri, for instance) and professional applications?
Our intelligence - is the "software". By developing their consciousness, their minds, people in some sense will update their “software.” Various software packages of artificial intelligence will become part of avatar technologies.
In practice, these technologies will be needed in almost all spheres of human life. And very soon, artificial bodies remote controlled by people at a distance would extinguish the fires, deal with accidents in conditions dangerous to human life and health, will be used by police officers, representatives of intelligence agencies and security forces as well as peacekeepers. People will no longer have to risk their lives. At the same time they will gain physical strength, endurance, speed far exceeding our current biological human body. People will more effectively explore our planet’s natural resources, study the seas and oceans, permafrost areas and Earth’s polar regions. The very concept of "disability" will disappear: thanks to new technologies, people with disabilities will receive new abilities through avatars and telepresence. They will become fully active members of society, capable of all kinds of work.
When the technologies of individual consciousness transfer to a non-biological carrier are fully developed, people will really be able to get rid of all the limitations of the physical body, become virtually immortal, and human civilization will finally be able to explore the Universe.
What are the potential implications--both positive and negative--of the avatars you plan to create? What should someone expect as far as the capabilities of an avatar implanted with a human brain?
The transplantation of the human brain into an artificial body is the final stage of the "Avatar B" project. The first stage involves the creation of an autonomous life support system for the human brain as well as its connection with the robot - a copy of the person (an avatar). The second possible stage is the transfer of a biological head onto an artificial body. The basis for such experiments was laid by the Soviet scientist Vladimir Demikhov, the founder of organ transplantation surgery, when he was conducting experiments on the transplantation of a second head to a dog.
As for the transfer of the human brain into an artificial body, the benefits of such technology have already been described in science fiction. For example, in Arthur C. Clarke's short story, "A Meeting with Medusa" the brain of the protagonist, mortally wounded in the airship crash is transplanted into an artificial body. Thanks to this procedure the protagonist becomes capable of space travel, which would be impossible in a biological body.
At the same time, in the long term the transplantation of the human brain into an artificial body is an intermediate stage in the development of avatar technology. We hope it will prolong the life of the people whose biological body is worn out or endangered by life-threatening illnesses or injuries. Such technology will allow scientists to buy time until technology is developed to the point when it becomes possible to transfer an individual's consciousness to a fully non-biological carrier.
Besides, even at this intermediate stage, avatar technologies can be used by people with physical, sensory or other functional limitations and disabilities. Currently, there are over a billion people in the world who have some form of disability. This is about 15 percent of the planet’s population.
With the help of avatar technologies paralyzed people will once again be able to feel the joy of movement. Those who have no vision, hearing or sense of smell will be able to utilize their senses. With the help of avatar technology people with disabilities will be able to regain full lives!
On the whole, the positive effects of creating and implementing artificial non-biological carriers (avatars) for our minds are obvious. We are talking about the creation of additional physical capacity compared to that of the human body, a complete victory over aging, disease and death. Avatar technology will make people more free to pursue unlimited opportunities for creativity, knowledge, self-development and will eventually lead to the next evolutionary step of human evolution. This evolution will not be just of the body but of the mind as well.
As for the negative consequences of the introduction of our technology - they will be minimal. The potential problems we can foresee, relate solely to the current level of human evolution and socio-economic and political organization of our societies, the current ways of thinking and the level of public discourse. Thanks to the profound changes in human evolution that will occur under the influence of avatar-based technologies, the negative effects of such technologies will simply disappear.
How do you expect the existence of avatars to impact social interaction?
The creation of avatars will change everything in our societies: politics, economics, medicine, health-care, food industry, construction methods, transportation, trade, banking, etc. The whole architecture of society will be transformed, there will be an increase in its self-organization, people will unite to fight the biggest and universal concerns of humankind – that of death.
Technologies have always evolved as extensions of the human body and have given it extra capabilities. For example, the phone, the computer and the automobile. Over time, many current technological devices, which operate outside the human body, will be integrated into the new body. Everything will focus to a single technological chain with the aim of creating and perfecting an artificial human body.
Consequentially, a new industry focused on the production of carriers will emerge.
Do you believe you have particular ethical responsibilities when creating systems that will equal or surpass human “intelligence”? If so, what particular ethical dilemmas does it pose?
Our main task is not the creation of artificial intelligence but the transfer of individual consciousness to an alternative non-biological carrier. Of course, some elements of artificial intelligence will be present in the avatars, however, they will only have an auxiliary function. Our goal is not to create an imitation of a person by means of artificial intelligence. Our goal is to be able to move the individual "I", of an individual human consciousness into a new individual non-biotic body, thus saving people from suffering and death. We do not want to create robots that resemble humans, we want to help the living persons.
It is simply impossible to accurately predict all the consequences of implementing such technologies. In addition, experience tells us that the ethics of using new technologies usually occur alongside the process of their implementation. No one created the highway code before the car became a mass mode of transport. The codes of behavior and interaction in the Internet has not yet been fully formed despite the fact that the Net is now several decades old.
New technologies have always changed the world, and the world has changed according to the new rules of the game. New ethos and culture are constantly being created. This is an ongoing process, it is constantly evolving even in relation to the technologies that have been around for a long time.
Today, it is impossible to imagine what will happen with the widespread introduction of avatars. Therefore, with time, we see the need to create an ethical council with the task to develop a list of laws and guidelines that will form the basis for an ethical code for avatar technologies in the future.
One of the main dilemmas facing humanity, a dilemma that poses many ethical problems, is the choice between personal and public benefit. Nowadays, the basis for personal benefit is thought of in relation to the vast amount of consumer goods sold and bought annually. With the emergence of avatar-based technologies, the avatar as a new medium for human consciousness will be the new most important value. It will incorporate all the consumer variety, which is very important for most people. As a result, the pursuit of current consumerism will lose meaning. Instead, people will unite to address their significant social problems, with the bigger aim to further human evolution.
What is your view of the current stage of scientific advancement in the world? Is there enough innovation and focus on “next-generation” technologies like the avatars you propose?
Modern science has become a victim of consumer culture mainly focused on providing people with various goods and services. Science became the servant of business, if there is no commercial demand for a particular research area - research doesn’t happen. Only those technologies deemed to be valuable can generate profits in a relatively short period of time.
Science has ceased to be a tool in the development of mankind, a means of realizing our dreams. Have we forgotten how to dream, instead becoming hostages of consumer culture? But as long as people are mortal, all the diversity of things that is produced by humanity - phones, houses, cars, boats, planes - at a certain point becomes pointless.
Sums of money spent in developed countries on science are laughable: 2.7% of GDP in the U.S. In Russia it is 1.03%. Alas, these funds are insufficient to implement the strategic plan for the development of mankind.
Of course, I would like to give some positive examples of scientific developments in the context of avatar technologies. In Lausanne, Switzerland, for example , a new center has been established, essentially a small city – for the study of human brain and brain modeling. This new project is called "Neyropolis" and combines such projects as "Blue Brain" and "Human Brain Project". In addition, Paul Allen donated a total of half a billion dollars for the study of the human brain in the Allen Institute for Brain Science which he founded in Seattle.
Currently scientists are actively studying the brain, sooner or later they will construct an artificial brain and will be able to answer the question - what does our identity consist of? The logical next step would be to move the individual human "I" to the alternative carrier, reducing the dependence on the biological body and dramatically prolong life. Regardless, we are already moving in this direction. But the paradox is that, for some reason the project of extension of life, radically getting rid of diseases has not become a mega-project, the world's most important dominant societal task. Pathetically, little is spent in this area compared to the amounts of money that circulate in industries - banking, pharmaceuticals, food industry etc.
Many scientists already believe our ideas to be interesting and ambitious. They also see as evident the vector of development of technologies in this area. At the same time the topic of immortality is a kind of social taboo.
In order to change this situation, we really need to think about the nature of our development and goals. When the pursuit of immediate profit ceases to be a major goal, and the evolution of humanity becomes a priority in science, only then we will be able to witness the emergence of the next generation of innovation.
Will this be affordable for the average consumer?
Eventually, yes. Today, an average Geminoid, or human-like robot costs approximately $300K without mass production. However, when we reach a period when we can mass produce the technology, we predict the costs to be similar to the automobile.
What do you say to those in science who are skeptical of your claims and ability to reach your goal?
History is littered with misconceptions professed by both laymen and great scientists. For example, “No one will pay good money to get from Berlin to Potsdam in one hour when he can ride his horse there in one day for free”, stated King William I of Prussia, on hearing of the invention of trains, 1864. “That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced” (Scientific American, January 2, 1909). The physicist Lord Kelvin said in 1895 that, "flying machines heavier than air are impossible”. Many of our contemporaries were also wrong in regard to the radio, the telephone, and the Internet.
I believe John F. Kennedy once said, "The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were."
The skepticism with respect to the avatar-based technologies is very much like the misconceptions we have just been talking about. History often laughs at such skeptics.
We have already attained some very prominent minds, and involved talented scientists in our project. They are willing to work towards its realization, believing in the project’s idea and its ultimate goal. As history shows, a remarkable invention sometimes requires just one genius. Or two, as was the case with the radio!
International Manifesto of the "2045" Strategic Social Initiative
Mankind has turned into a consumer society standing at the edge of a total loss of the conceptual guidelines necessary for further evolution. The majority of people are almost exclusively absorbed in merely maintaining their own comfortable lives.
Modern civilization, with its space stations, nuclear submarines, iPhones and Segways cannot save mankind from the limitations in the physical abilities of our bodies, nor from diseases and death.
We are not satisfied with modern achievements of scientific and technical progress. Science working for the satisfaction of consumer needs will not be able to ensure a technological breakthrough towards a radically different way of life.
We believe that the world needs a different ideological paradigm. Within its framework it is necessary to form a major objective capable of pointing out a new direction for the development of all mankind and ensuring the achievement of a scientific and technical revolution.
The new ideology should assert, as one of its priorities, the necessity of using breakthrough technology for an improvement of man himself and not only of his environment.
We believe that it is possible and necessary to eliminate aging and even death, and to overcome the fundamental limits of the physical and mental capabilities currently set by the restrictions of the physical body.
Scientists from various countries in the world are already developing technology that ensures the creation of an artificial human body prototype within the next decade. We believe the biggest technological project of our times will become the creation of such artificial human body and a subsequent transfer of individual human consciousness to such a body.
Implementation of this technological project will inevitably result in an explosive development of innovations and global changes in our civilization and will improve human life.
We believe that before 2045 an artificial body will be created that will not only surpass the existing body in terms of functionality, but will achieve perfection of form and be no less attractive than the human body. People will make independent decisions about the extension of their lives and the possibilities for personal development in a new body after the resources of the biological body have been exhausted.
The new human being will receive a huge range of abilities and will be capable of withstanding extreme external conditions easily: high temperatures, pressure, radiation, lack of oxygen, etc. Using a neural-interface humans will be able to operate several bodies of various forms and sizes remotely.
We suggest the implementation of not just a mechanistic project to create an artificial body, but a whole system of views, values and technology which will render assistance to humankind in intellectual, moral, physical, mental and spiritual development.
We invite all interested specialists: scientists, politicians, mass media personalities, philosophers, futurologists and businessmen to join the "2045" strategic social initiative. We welcome all who share our vision of the future and are ready to make the next jump.
The main objectives of our movement are:
1. To achieve the support of the International community and create conditions for international co-operation of interested specialists around the "2045" Initiative.
2. To create an international research center for cybernetic immortality to advance practical implementations of the main technical project – the creation of the artificial body and the preparation for subsequent transfer of individual human consciousness to such a body.
3. To engage experts in the selection and support of the most interesting projects in the quest to ensure technological breakthroughs.
4. To support innovative industries and create special scientific education programs for schools and institutes of higher education.
5. To create educational programs for television, radio and internet, to hold forums, conferences, congresses and exhibitions, and to establish awards and produce books, movies and computer games with the view of raising the profile of the initiative and spreading its ideas.
6. To form a culture connected with the ideology of the future, promoting technical progress, artificial intellect, “multi-body”, immortality, and cyborgization.