THE BLOG
07/03/2013 04:28 pm ET Updated Sep 02, 2013

A Robotic Future

By Mai Garti-Bar

Climate change? Water wars? Overpopulation? Rapidly depleting resources and a lack of initiative to find renewable/sustainable resources? I'm far more than familiar with all of these critical issues thanks to my pursuit of an Environmental Studies major. New to me, however, was discovering that quite a few people actually have a lot of viable ideas of how to address these complex and far-reaching issues. That realization occurred when I attended the Global Future 2045 International Congress (GF2045) on June 15 and 16 at NYC's Lincoln Center.

I had never imagined that so many of the world's finest minds congregate in one place, all speaking about their work to solve the challenges of that are currently afflicting the Earth. At the Center of the GF2045 is multimillionaire Dmitry Itskov; it's his goal to bring immortality to human race by uploading your brain into a synthetic organism (aka robot). He thinks it can be accomplished by the year 2045, through the four stages of his Avatar Project:

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After achieving wild fantastic monetary success, Dmitry was presented with an existential crisis at the young age of 25; he found that there was this looming: "Now what?" With ambition to match his bank account, he prepared to address this vocational void head on. He is incredibly concerned about the state of the world: opening his laptop up during an interview with the New York Times and he scrolled through a slide show that articulated a multitude of depressing global statistics:

  • Almost one billion people are now starving across the globe
  • 49 countries are currently involved in military conflict
  • 10 percentof people are physically disabled,

Sadly there are more; many more.

The more he wrestled with the glaring problems in the world, the more hopeless it seemed. Each of these daunting statistics and all the rest have propelled Itskov to create the 2045 Initiative. Changing the way the world works means changing how we operate, starting with our minds and bodies. Itskov's choice of word for this change is "evolve." Before our minds can evolve, Itskov believes the solution lies in a new paradigm for the definition of "a human being." This redefining requires a transition to a reality where most people will not be consumed by the basic questions of survival, or aging.

If you are skeptical about the magnitude of all this, believe me, I was too. But that was before I attended the conference. Sure, you'll be thinking to yourself about the feasibility of all this. Our modern technology is advanced, but not that advanced, right? Wrong. As scary and mind-boggling as it might seem, the work has already begun. With an absence of fanfare, quiet and fast-paced technological advancements are happening in right now.

Many of the speakers at the conference were scientific innovators involved in very specific, very forward-thinking fields like neuroengineering, neuroinformatics and quantum-consciousness theory. To save you some Google time, the details and jargon, these extraordinary people and sciences are essentially in the works of making Itskov's dreams come true.They're doing it, in part, by addressing some of his big foundational questions such as "How can we actually create a software that can translate consciousness?" To get even close to answering that we first need to learn, "in what component of the brain does consciousness reside?" No one is claiming to have those answers, at least not today. But the shared belief of all the scientists at the GF2045 congress was: they're working on getting there.

Complementing the technical expertise required to create the avatars, there are leading spiritualists and other intellectuals who are working in part to make this vision a widely-accepted and accessible reality. Tibetan Buddhist Lama Phakyab Rinpoche, Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, Swami Vishnudevananda Giri Ji Maharaj and Mahayogi 'Pilot' Baba, all presented themselves as advocating for change for those less fortunate specifically as well as, quite frankly, the entire human race in general.

They argued passionately for this envisioned metamorphosis presented for the human race into a non-biological form. Although still far more science fiction than fact as of right now, an idea such as this should not be disregarded or written off. It can help us transcend a lot of the superficial things we get caught up in like appearances and the issues it creates like racism and other forms of bigotry.

If all goes to plan, at the Avatar B stage, we will no longer be limited by our bodies' limitations: which means no more battles with, the physical disabilities, disease, aging and hunger. and other limitations. I would be the last person to tell you I'm not for the advent of an equalizer in this increasingly socioeconomically divergent world of ours.

Speaker Dr. Peter Diamandis advocated for an additional way in which our avatar bodies will be able to help us overcome our real-world limitations, quite literally. He proposed that, using our avatars, we will be able to greatly simplify travel to places that were previously relatively inaccessible. The driving force behind the XPRIZE initiatives (such as SpaceShipOne), Dr. Diamandis is Co-Founder/Co-Chairman of Planetary Resources, a company designing a spacecraft to enable the detection and mining of asteroids for precious materials.

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An asteroid that passes by the Earth every two years is worth trillions in minerals and elements. Some day we may be able to start harvesting these fast-moving "gold mines" to supplement our own diminishing resources. Diamandis's vision would be a perfect application for the development of the avatar technology.

The only real hurdle the avatar project has right now is money: the more money that is pumped into this project from angel investors, the faster it will become a reality. The apprehension that many people feel towards this upcoming giant technological leap forward is understandable.But the GF2045 speakers cited many precedents for this dazzling path, such as: the Internet, the cell-phone, GPS, things we now use everyday (lets not forget that 3D printing just recently came to fruition).

Where there is the need for something, innovation has consistently filled the void. I do not doubt that if the GF2045's Avatar Project can be actualized and it can be agreed upon that this is the next necessary step for humankind, we will adapt to this too.