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Dmitry Itskov, Russian Billionaire, Plans Immortality Research Center

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Dmitry Itskov, a Russian billionaire, is pursuing immortality through the 2045 Initiative, which he founded last year.
Dmitry Itskov, a Russian billionaire, is pursuing immortality through the 2045 Initiative, which he founded last year.

Dmitry Itskov, a Russian billionaire and media mogul, is betting that money can buy eternal life.

Itskov's 2045 Initiative, which is trying to make immortality a reality, launched its own political party in Russia last week: Evolution 2045. Though Evolution 2045 is based in Russia, it aims to create "a new stage of human civilization" throughout the world.

Itskov founded the 2045 Initiative in February 2011. He has brought 30 top Russian scientists on board and plans to create an international research center devoted to study immortality.

The 2045 Initiative has outlined a 30-year plan to develop the technology for human beings to transfer their consciousness into "avatars," or robots. Its self-declared ambition is to make the human race "eventually become a new species."

Itskov told Wired in February that he wants to eventually create hologram bodies that would "host" human consciousness, kind of like something out of the movie Avatar.

"I believe in something you call the American Dream," Itskov told Wired. "If you put all your energy and time into something, you can make it a reality."

You may be imagining a dystopian future of immortal billionaires lording over the mortal masses. But not to worry, the avatars would be mass-produced so that eventually they would cost about as much as a car, making them affordable for the middle class, according to the 2045 Initiative.

Itskov is hoping he can give the initiative a boost by getting some of his super-rich friends to sign on. He sent an open letter to members of the Forbes world billionaires list in July asking them to invest in the project. But it might take some convincing; the 2045 Initiative also criticizes the modern consumer economy for focusing on the short term, taking attention away from the reality that we're all going to die.

(Hat tip: CNBC's Robert Frank and ABC News.)

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