Russian multimillionaire Dmitry Itskov wants to make our minds immortal, and announced his new project at the Global Future 2045 conference in New York this weekend.
According to the 2045 initiative, we are already in the first phase, called "Avatar A" where robots will be controlled remotely by using our minds. Prototypical examples of this already exist, and the plan expects a human to mentally "occupy" an android and experience some sensation by 2020.
"The avatar is a transition for human beings," Itskov said. "A transition which will allow us to stop aging ... get rid of diseases ... and finally to be almost immortal."
Five years later, Itskov expects scientists will have found a way to transplant the brain and some of the spinal cord into an android body that acts as a life-support system. This brain-transplantation phase is known as Avatar B.
In the Avatar C phase, from 2030 to 2045, scientists are expected to make the brain non-biological by uploading it into a computer.
The final phase, Avatar D, proposed to occur by 2045, is replacement of the physical body with a nonphysical body. The consciousness would reside inside a computer, and physically manifest as a hologram.
In parallel fields of research, Avatars A, B and C have already been devised. One of the speakers, Theodore Berger, showed how he has replaced the hippocampus of a rat -- associated with memory -- with a computer chip, and that rats implanted with these chips can have a memory without the original biological part.
Japanese robotics expert Hiroshi Ishiguro also presented his latest "Geminoid" android, a very lifelike double of himself -- a robot surrogate -- controlled remotely with voice input and facial tracking video.
Itskov also unveiled a robotic model of his own head that spoke and moved in tandem with him, built by Hanson Robotics.
Itskov will be unveiling a series of products that are immediately investable to the investors present. Though he believes the development of artificial intelligence is important, he believes the real business opportunity lies with allowing people to "transition."