When will your story end? What if we told you that it doesn’t have to end?
It is arguably an ethical topic that we’re treading on here, but imagine what today would be like if we still had the some of the minds of the greatest scientists and academics such as Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton? If we enabled their genius minds to a limitless life tenure, what great achievements can humanity possibly attend to?
Futurist and transhumanist, Ray Kurzweil claims the possibility of transferring the mind contents, and most importantly, the conscience of an individual into a digital asset, within a computer-programmed robot.
“Four decades is all it will take,” proclaims Kurzweil. “We will be able to expand the scope of our intelligence a billion-fold.”
Since the 2012 Global Future 2045 International Congress conducted by a Russian, Dmitry Itskov, there has been leads to discovering methods in downloading the consciousness into the next copy when the individual ‘physically dies’. This is thought to be the first step to grasping the desirable trait of immortality.
“Our civilization has come very close to the creation of such technologies; it’s not a science-fiction fantasy,” Itskov states. “It is in your power to make sure that this goal will be achieved in your lifetime.”
Brain-computer interfaces are advancing exponentially. Seemingly impossible a decade ago, this generation has been brought up with the ability of cybernetics to develop increasingly smart machines that can mimic the emotional capacity of the human brain’s cerebral cortex. Calling for funding from the ‘richest people in the world’, on top of his $3 million of his own money – Itskov is persistent to develop 4 distinct prototypal models.
Prototype #1: Brain-Controlled Robot
In the beginning he wanted to establish a robot that can be controlled by the human mind, similar to that of Stephen Hawkin’s phonological technology. This model has succeeded with the program, “Avatar” created by DARPA. It creates a brain-machine interface that allows injured soldiers to control bipedal human surrogate machines (i.e. artificial legs and arms) with their minds, remotely. Biologically, the human nervous system has been anticipated to interface with prosthetic enhancements, which enables manipulation through thoughts. This is hypothetically feasible to an extent, however it holds an optimistic view in tackling the potential technical problems that arise from the procedure. Whether this optimism is long-lived depends on the stretch of technological and scientific progression in the next few years.
Prototype #2: Transplanted Robot
The brain is physically transplanted into a surrogate robot (just like Siegel’s 1945 comic-book character, Robotman – a scientist whose human brain had been transplanted into an immortal robot body). In preserving the still-living brain in long-lasting chemicals through scientific development, they seek to lengthen the life span of humans. This concept is viable just as long as the grey matter of the brain does not decay. Since the beginning of this year, 2014 – scientists are beginning to tap on creating this avatar. Progress is slowly building up and although success is seemingly so close, it is still so far away.
Prototype #3: Advanced Humanoid
The next stage will be then creating an artificial brain from scratch and copying the personality and memories of a person into the mechanic brain. Similar to a current day humanoid, this will embody the complete conscience of the person, which means the person’s living conscience controls everything of the robot. This avatar aims to replicate and mimic the caricature of the person and save the hassle in chemically maintaining the human brain.
Prototype #4: Hologram
And when the time comes, when we reach the utmost peak in technological advancements, would be when the consciousness is completely disembodied from the body and uploaded into a holographic host. Taking form of anything, the holographic image will be controlled by the uploaded conscience of the person from a designated hardware.
But wait… Isn’t this ultimately cheating death?
Drawing attention to ethics – should these ‘models’ be given the same human rights as humans? Will they still encompass the emotions of love, hatred and fear? Since this is essentially creating a new spiritaul practice, what is its implications of religion? Synthetic thoughts – what are they exactly? Are they self-generated or computer generated with the mere façade of a functioning brain?
So, how much should they charge for people to encompass this sort of technology? Is it fair that only the ‘wealthy’ have access to this type of technology?
Then, what about the risk of overpopulating and then depleting the natural resources that concurrently exists? Where exactly is the bottom line? What is the extent to which technology can exploit the human nature without overtaking the rulings of our moral system that interplay?
Yes, these overwhelming questions will be painstakingly difficult to answer with ethical justifications however once the legalities are cleared up with sufficient reasoning behind its doing, maybe then can it be sufficiently implemented. However, the recent research that found success in recreating organs out of stem cells, suggests that perhaps computerised technology to make humanoids, are not necessary anymore.
So we pose the question to you, are we cheating death with artificial intelligence?