"This project is leading down the road to immortality,” Itskov told Gizmodo. “A person with a perfect Avatar will be able to remain part of society. People don't want to die.” Itskov, owner of the online news outlet managing company New Media, has made millions from his online ventures. With the fortune he’s made from New Media he claims to have hired 30 researchers from inside Russia for his sci-fi-sounding project, but now wants to outsource the work to the larger global scientific community. He announced his plan at Global Future 2045, a convention of futurists hosted in Moscow.
Itskov’s plan is to develop the robot in stages, starting with robotic components that can be manipulated by the human mind. The first stage, at least, is feasible with other researchers in other parts of the world already having created robotic arms controlled by the minds of Chimpanzees. Johns Hopkins University has also develops artificial limbs that are controlled by paraplegic patients.
Of course, the difference between controlling a robotic limb with a human mind and actually transplanting a human brain into a robot is massive (to the point of being surreal). Within ten years, Itskov envisions these brain-toting robots walking among us in as little as ten years. Scientists have not yet been able to sustain an animal brain outside of a body for any length of time, let alone within a robotic structure that is built to do a bunch of other things as well. Furthermore, within 30 years Itskov wants to be able to simply download a person’s brain into the hardware, eventually replacing robots with holograms. That’s right, a human being would be replaced by a light projection that have, as Itskov says, “plenty of advantages. You can walk through walls, move at the speed of light.”
DARPA, the research wing of the U.S. Department of Defense, is also working on an Avatar program to create robotic surrogates controlled by real soldiers. Itskov’s own Avatar program (called the same thing, coincidentally) is opening up offices in the U.S., and wants to work with DARPA. Of course, the application of light-projected soldiers on the field of battle is still under investigation…