Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov seeks 'immortality' by uploading his brain to a computer

Itskov's 2045 Initiative wants to make it possible to live as an immortal holographic 'avatar' in the next three decades

A billionaire Russian businessman is making it his life's goal to stay alive forever by uploading his brain into a computer.

Dmitry Itskov, who made his fortune in internet media, is the founder of the 2045 Intiative, an organisation working with a network of scientists to develop 'cybernetic immortality' within the next few decades.

35-year-old Itskov acknowledges that without such technology, it's likely he could be dead by 2050. However, by perfecting the mapping of the human brain and transferring his conciousness into a computer, he could 'live' much longer - either in the computer, transplanted into a humanoid robot body, or as a hologram.

Itskov started his foundation in 2011, and is the subject of an upcoming BBC Horizon documentary, The Immortalist.

Speaking to the BBC, he said: "Within the next 30 years, I am going to make sure that we can all live forever. I'm 100 per cent confident it will happen. Otherwise I wouldn't have started it."

According to the 2045 Initiative's website, they see this reality beginning with the creation of 'avatars' by 2020 - robots which can be controlled by the mind and send feedback to the user's brain, through a brain-computer interface.

In the following five years, an avatar into which a human brain can be transplanted after death will be created. An avatar with an artificial brain which can host a human personality will be created by 2035, and a hologram-like avatar will follow by 2045 - heralding a new age for humanity.

It's certainly an ambitious goal, and there's debate in the scientific community over whether the intricacies of the human brain can even be replicated in a machine at all. What's more, many of the Initiative's ambitions rest on discoveries that humanity is not yet close to making.

However, he's already started planning for his digital immortality - he told Tristan Quinn that he sees himself having multiple bodies in different forms, living on Earth and in space while his conciousness moves between them.

Itskov is pouring his fortune into the initiative, but only time will tell whether he succeeds in his goals or not.

The Immortalist will be shown on BBC 2 at 8PM on Wednesday 16 March.

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