In 2012 I found this article in the Brisbane Times newspaper:
A Russian billionaire has a plan to make himself, and others, live forever. Dmitry Itskov, a 31-year-old media mogul, implored other magnates to fund cybernetic immortality and the artificial body – basically transferring human consciousness into a robot body.
In an open letter to the Forbes Richest List he wrote, “Currently you invest in business projects that will bring you yet another billion. You also have the ability to finance the extension of your own life up to immortality. Our civilisation has come very close to the creation of such technologies: it’s not a science fiction fantasy. It is in your power to make sure that this goal will be achieved in your lifetime.” According to Mashable [a technology news blog], his timetable is tight:
1. By 2025, scientists will be able to transfer the human brain into a robotic skeleton.
2. By 2035, an avatar brain will be created and your personality inserted within.
3. By 2045, humans will walk around in holographic avatars that will never die.
Indeed, “Wired” magazine reported that the Russian wants to end the need for surgery and troubleshoot our robo-bodies instead. Itskov has said that he has already assembled a team of scientists for the job but still needs more funds to continue the project, reported the National Turk.
[Billionaire Invests in immortality: 3 Aug 2012 – Brisbane Times]
Itskov’s dream of immortality was given an update by Nathan Falde on the Ancient Origins website [30 July 2019] in an article titled Could Humans Become Immortal by 2045:
In the 21 st century, science has become the new religion for many, and that includes people obsessed with immortality. Now, proposed solutions to the problem of death usually center on advanced technology and artificial intelligence, and the belief that consciousness can somehow be “downloaded” into a computer or other digital storage device. Scientific research in these areas continues, and no definitive answers to the problem have been identified. But one Russian billionaire is so convinced immortality is inevitable that he´s created and funded his own organisation to make it a reality. This billionaire´s name is Dmitry Itskov, and his organisation is called the 2045 Initiative.
What is the 2045 Initiative?
To bring his ambitions of immortality to fruition, Itskov has recruited several top Russian scientists in the fields of robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, neural-computer interface and artificial organ engineering to join his project. Itskov has a vision for immortality that is expansive in scope, and based on an optimistic scenario of where science is headed in the next three decades.
The 2045 team is working to create an international research center that will focus on anthropomorphic robotics, transhumanism, cybernetics and living systems modeling. The 2045 Initiative is dedicated to the proposition that man´s consciousness can and will someday merge with machines, once the infrastructure of the brain is mapped and can be recreated in a digital environment.
Itskov and his supporters are convinced of the inevitability of this development.
“Within the next 30 years, I am going to make sure that we can all live forever,” Itskov told the BBC in 2016. “I’m 100 percent confident it will happen.”
The 2045 Initiative Vision
According to the 2045 Initiative blueprint, cibernetic immortality will proceed in four steps:
First, software that allows for the human brain to interface with a robot avatar will be developed. Through the power of the mind of its controller, the robot will be directed to perform various actions. To the uninformed observer, it will appear as if the commanding brain were actually inside the robot’s head. When the 2045 initiative was launched in 2011, they predicted that such a technology would be available by the year 2020.
Once this step is completed, the next milestone will be the invention of a robot avatar that can host and be directly controlled by a transplanted human brain (like the Frankenstein monster, but without the rampage and destruction). 2045 Initiative leadership predicts this will occur by the year 2025.
By 2035, according to 2045 Initiative scientists, it should be possible to control a robot with an artificial brain, modeled after that of a human. This brain will be imprinted with an existing human personality, from someone whose patterns of thinking, acting, feeling and being have been mathematically decoded.
Then, if all goes according to plan, in 2045 the final milestone will be achieved. At that time, fully decoded and transcribed human personalities will be programmed into a computer. They will be perfect replicas, or digital clones. A hologram will then be generated that can function as the person’s vehicle, and that hologram will be fully capable of assuming any shape, size or appearance.
As an alternative, nanobots that can be programmed to construct custom-ordered bodies will also have been invented, allowing a computer-coded conscious “being” to take a more authentically physical form whenever they’d like. In each of the last three stages, the brain, personality or consciousness used as the model will belong to someone whose life is on the verge of ending—thus allowing them to achieve a form of immortality, as it is defined by Dmitry Itskov and his mates.
[Could Humans Become Immortal by 2045: Nathan Falde on the Ancient Origins website, 30 July 2019]
These guys are in such illusion. They have enough money to last them hundreds of lifetimes, and maybe only half a lifetime left to spend it in. What they do not realize is that their immortality is already assured, but if they are amassing their wealth sinfully or personally living sinfully, they are not even assured of a human birth next time around, or may find themselves in a poverty stricken situation in a third world nation.
There was a famous story of a Scottish Lord who had the good fortune to meet Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. He asked the great Vaisnava spiritual master if he could be made a brahmana. Bhaktisiddhanta told him, “Yes, but first you have to give up illicit sex-life, intoxication, meat eating and gambling,” the four pillars of sinful life. The Lord replied, “Impossible – that is my life!” The desire of the very wealthy to live forever is generally just like that of Hiranyakashipu – they have almost unlimited opportunities for sense gratification and do not want to give it up. The following two articles come from a Wikipedia article on “Immortality”:
One idea that has been advanced involves uploading an individual’s personality and memories via direct mind-computer interface. The individual’s memory may be loaded to a computer or to a newly born baby’s mind. The baby will then grow with the previous person’s individuality, and may not develop its own personality. “Extropian futurists” like Moravec and Kurzweil have proposed that, thanks to exponentially growing computing power, it will someday be possible to upload human consciousness onto a computer system, and live indefinitely in a virtual environment.
This could be accomplished via advanced cybernetics, where computer hardware would initially be installed in the brain to help sort memory or accelerate thought processes. Components would be added gradually until the person’s entire brain functions were handled by artificial devices, avoiding sharp transitions that would lead to issues of identity. After this point, the human body could be treated as an optional accessory and the mind could be transferred to any sufficiently powerful computer.
Another possible mechanism for mind upload is to perform a detailed scan of an individual’s original, organic brain and simulate the entire structure in a computer. What level of detail such scans and simulations would need to achieve to emulate consciousness, and whether the scanning process would destroy the brain, is still to be determined. Whatever the route to mind upload, persons in this state would then be essentially immortal, short of loss or traumatic destruction of the machines that maintained them.
Transforming a human into a cyborg can include brain implants or extracting a human mind and placing it in a robotic life-support system. Even replacing biological organs with robotic ones could increase life span (i.e., pace makers) and depending on the definition, many technological upgrades to the body, like genetic modifications or the addition of nanobots would qualify an individual as a cyborg. Such modifications would make one impervious to aging and disease and theoretically immortal unless killed or destroyed.
[Nanobots are “robots of microscopic proportions, presumably built by means of nanotechnology. As yet, only used informally and speculatively, such devices are currently under research and development.]
And what about those people who have no brain, or hardly any brain? Where are their memories and personality stored? The research of Dr. John Lorber of Sheffield University calls into question all that scientists claim to know about the brain and its workings:
When the University of Sheffield’s campus doctor was treating one of the mathematics students for a minor ailment, he noticed that the student’s head was a little larger than normal. The doctor referred the student to a neurology professor, the late Dr. John Lorber, for further examination. The student in question was academically bright, had a reported IQ of 126 and was expected to graduate.
Dr. John Lorber
When he was examined by CAT-scan, however, Lorber discovered that he had virtually no brain at all. Instead of two hemispheres filling the cranial cavity, some 4.5 centimetres deep, the student had less than 1 millimetre of cerebral tissue covering the top of his spinal column. The student was suffering from hydrocephalus, the condition in which the cerebrospinal fluid, instead of circulating around the brain and entering the bloodstream, becomes dammed up inside.
Often the condition is fatal in the first months of childhood, and even where an individual survives he or she may be seriously handicapped. Somehow, though, the Sheffield student had lived a perfectly normal life and went on to gain an honors degree in mathematics. And this was not an isolated case. Professor Lorber identified several hundred people who have very small cerebral hemispheres but who appear to be normal intelligent individuals. Some of them he describes as having “no detectable brain,” yet they have scored up to 120 on IQ tests.
[Is Your Brain Really Necessary? Richard Milton, Alternative Science website]
No-one knows how people with “no detectable brain” are able to function at all, let alone to graduate in mathematics. One theory is that there is such a high level of redundancy of function in the normal brain that what little that remains is able to learn to deputize for the missing hemispheres. Yet we still hear scientists declaring that various structures of the brain have their particular and specific functions, and we see charts of the brain divided and marked according to these functions.
The following information is fairly standard:
Cerebellum – regulates balance, posture, movement, and muscle coordination. Frontal Lobe of the Cerebrum – used for reasoning, emotions, judgment, and voluntary movement. Occipital Lobe of the Cerebrum – contains the centres of vision and reading ability. Parietal Lobe of the Cerebrum – contains important sensory centres. Temporal Lobe of the Cerebrum – contains centres of hearing and memory.
[Enchanted Learning.com website]
Yet many of these people identified by Lorber and others are missing all or some of these structures, while still having their prescribed functions. These anomalous cases which pop up from time to time are proof that the scientific community really has very little understanding of how the brain operates, which parts perform which functions, where our memories are stored, and where is the seat of consciousness.
The Greek word “psyche” originally described the soul. In more recent times it became equated with the study of the mind – “psychology.” Modern psychiatrists, being largely misled by material science, have equated the psyche with the material brain. In other words, they say that we are simply the material body, a large jar of chemicals, and all of our mental processes, our thoughts, moods, feelings and emotions are due to interactions of various chemicals within the brain. This is why they mainly treat psychiatric and mood disorders with chemical drugs or electro-convulsions – shocks to the brain. If the problem is material, then the solution must also be material. The vast majority have no real understanding of the mind, let alone the soul.
Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego – all together these eight comprise My separated material energies. Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.
The brain is a physical structure made predominantly of earth, water and fire [electrical impulses]. More subtle than the brain is the mind, a subtle material body which pervades the physical body. The mind may be linked to the physical body via the brain or other nerve cells, but it is separate from the brain. Our thoughts and memories of experiences in the material world come from and are stored in, the subtle body, not the physical brain. And above the mind is the spirit soul, the spark of God who illuminates the body and is the source of consciousness within the body. Without this transcendental understanding, we can never truly understand our identity and the actual process and effects of consciousness, of thinking, feeling and willing.
Spirit soul is our actual identity. We are not seated within the brain as the the 2045 Initiative and cryonics people wish to believe. The soul, although transcendental, sits within the region of the heart of the embodied living being. When the body dies, the soul, covered by the subtle body, our mind, leaves and generally takes on another material body. Once the soul has left the body, there is no identity, no personality, and no thoughts or memories remaining in the dead matter which makes up the brain.
Australia’s First Cryogenic Centre
AUSTRALIA’S first cryogenic centre will be built by a scientist who wants to deep-freeze his parents and himself after they die. Biologist Philip Rhoades has won approval from health authorities to build the complex – believed to be only the third in the world. Mr. Rhoades, 54, told the Herald Sun he believed future medical advances would bring them back to life in coming centuries. He has already spent $650,000 developing plans for underground storage at Cowra, 200km west of Sydney, and hopes to start building on the 60ha site within six months.
“My parents are both science types, like me, and with my siblings are interested in this great experiment,” Mr. Rhoades said. “If I can eventually help other people whose lives should be longer, this would also be a good thing to do.” Mr. Rhoades – along with his mother Dorothy, 74, a science teacher, and father Gerald, 79, an industrial chemist – would be frozen in minus 150 degrees Centigrade liquid nitrogen after they die, in the belief advanced nanotechnology might bring them back to life. [Since this article was written, Dorothy and Gerald Rhoades’ brains have been cryogenically frozen].
At least one of Mr. Rhoades’ sisters, Jocelyn, will undergo the process, and his two other sisters and two brothers are interested. But he said his partner, although accepting his views, did not want to be suspended after death. “So far she has not been interested, which is sad because I’d really miss her in the future,” Mr. Rhoades said. He said there was a need for a cryogenic centre in Australia because US religious fundamentalists could sabotage operations in the US or a more conservative US government might outlaw the process. “The US is more likely to have problems with religious extremists who might be inclined to cause damage, and the US political situation is heading for trouble, I think,” Mr. Rhoades said.
The Cowra plan comes after a seventh Australian underwent the cryogenic process in the US. Canberra maths academic Thomas Donaldson flew to the US in January suffering a rare brain tumour. After Mr. Donaldson died, his body was frozen at Alcor Life Extension in Arizona. Under the cryogenic process, bodies are drained of blood, pumped full of chemicals and dipped in liquid nitrogen to preserve them. They are snap-frozen and entombed upside down in cylinders.
NSW Health Department director of population health Dr Greg Stewart wrote to Mr. Rhoades advising there was nothing in the Public Health (Disposal of Bodies) Regulation 2002 to stop the centre being built. … But he noted the only hurdle was clause 9 of the regulations, which requires a contingency plan if the freezing process is interrupted due to equipment malfunctions. Dr Stewart said. The Cryonics Association of Australia has 30 members. Sixteen have signed to be frozen in the US at Alcor and the Cryonics Institute, costing $70,000 to $250,000.
[Mark Dunn, Herald Sun – August 26, 2006]
This idea that our identity, our personality, our thoughts and our memories will continue to exist – snap frozen in the dead matter of our former brain – is the delusional wishful thinking of materialists desperate to hang on to their material body and mundane identity forever. This is very sad, as by Krishna’s arrangement we already have an eternal, blissful spiritual body, totally free from the pain of disease, old age and death, just waiting to be revealed to us when we reawaken our love for Krishna. But as long as we hang on to our mundane identity and attachments, this truly wonderful immortal existence will never be realized. Material energy, whether on the gross or subtle level, will always crumble and fall apart – it can never provide a platform for eternal existence.
The Full Blessings of Immortality
In the Sri Isopanishad mantra 11, it is stated:
Only one who can learn the process of nescience and that of transcendental knowledge side by side can transcend the influence of repeated birth and death and enjoy the full blessing of immortality.
[Sri Isopanisad mantra 11]
Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami says in the purport to that verse:
Since the creation of the material world, everyone has been trying to attain a permanent life, but the law of nature is so cruel that no one has been able to avoid the hand of death. It is an actual fact that no one wants to die. Nor does anyone want to become old or diseased. The law of nature, however, does not allot anyone immunity from death, old age, or disease. Nor has the advancement of material knowledge solved these problems. Material science can discover the nuclear bomb to accelerate the process of death, but it cannot discover anything that can protect man from the cruel hands of disease, old age and death.
From the Puranas we learn of the activities of Hiranyakasipu, a king who was very much advanced materially. Wanting to conquer death by his material acquisitions and the strength of his nescience, he underwent a type of meditation so severe that the inhabitants of all the planetary systems became disturbed by his mystic powers. He forced the creator of the universe, the demigod Brahma, to come down to him. He then asked Brahma for the benediction of amara, by which one does not die. Brahma said that he could not award the benediction because even he, the material creator who rules all planets, is not amara. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (Bg. 8.17), Brahma lives a long time, but that does not mean he doesn’t have to die.
Hiranya means gold, and kasipu means soft bed. This gentleman was interested in these two things – money and women – and he wanted to enjoy them by becoming immortal. He asked Brahma many questions indirectly in hopes of fulfilling his desire to become an amara. Since Brahma told him that he could not grant the gift of immortality, Hiranyakasipu requested that he not be killed by any man, animal, god or any other living being within the categories of the 8,400,000 species. He also requested that he not die on land, in the air or in the water or by any weapon whatsoever. In this way Hiranyakasipu foolishly thought that these guarantees would save him from death. Ultimately, however, although Brahma granted him all these benedictions, he was killed by the Personality of Godhead in the form of Nrsimha, a half-lion half-man, and no weapon was used to kill him, for be was killed by the nails of the Lord. Nor was he killed on the land, in the air or in the water, for he was killed on the lap of that wonderful living being who was beyond his conception.
The whole point here is that even Hiranyakasipu, the most powerful of materialists, could not become deathless by his various plans. What, then, can be accomplished by the tiny Hiranyakasipus of today, whose plans are throttled from moment to moment? Sri Isopanisad instructs us not to make one-sided attempts to win the struggle for existence. Everyone is struggling hard for existence, but the laws of material nature are so hard and fast that they do not allow anyone to surpass them. In order to attain a permanent life, one must be prepared to go back to Godhead.
The process by which one goes back to Godhead is a different branch of knowledge, and it has to be learned from revealed Vedic scriptures such as the Upanisads, Vedanta-sutra, Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, etc. To become happy in this life and attain a permanent blissful life after leaving this material body, one must take to this sacred literature and obtain transcendental knowledge. The conditioned living being has forgotten his eternal relationship with God, and he has mistakenly accepted the temporary place of birth as all-in-all. The Lord has kindly delivered the above-mentioned scriptures in India and other scriptures in other countries to remind the forgetful human being that his home is not here in this material world. The living being is a spiritual entity, and he can only be happy by returning to his spiritual home.
The personality of Godhead sends His bona fide servants from His kingdom to propagate this message by which one can return to Godhead, and sometimes the Lord comes Himself to do this work. Since all living beings are His beloved sons, His parts and parcels, God is more sorry than we ourselves to see the sufferings which we are constantly undergoing in this material condition. The miseries of this material world serve to indirectly remind us of our incompatibility with dead matter. Intelligent living entities generally take note of these reminders and engage themselves in the culture of vidya, or transcendental knowledge. Human life is the best opportunity for the culture of spiritual knowledge, and a human being who does not take advantage of this opportunity is called a naradhama, the lowest of human beings.
The path of avidya, or advancement of material knowledge for sense gratification, is the path of repeated birth and death. As he exists spiritually, the living entity has no birth or death. Birth and death apply to the outward covering of the spirit soul, the body. Death is compared to the taking off and birth to the putting on of outward garments. Foolish human beings who are grossly absorbed in the culture of avidya, nescience, do not mind this cruel process. Being enamored by the beauty of illusory energy, they undergo the same things repeatedly and do not learn any lessons from the laws of nature.
… Unrestricted sense enjoyment in this bodily condition is the path of ignorance and death. The living entities are not without spiritual senses; every living being in his original, spiritual form has all the senses, which are now material, being covered by the body and mind. Activities of the material senses are perverted reflections of spiritual pastimes. In its diseased condition, the spirit soul engages in material activities under the material covering. Real sense enjoyment is possible only when the disease of materialism is removed. In our real spiritual form, free from all material contamination, pure enjoyment of the senses is possible. …
[Purport to Sri Isopanisad mantra 11]
Therefore devotees should constantly hear about, glorify, remember and worship the Personality of Godhead [Bhagavan], who is their protector.
[Srimad Bhagavatam 1:2:14]
And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.
Let me take shelter of the lotus feet of Him whose incarnations, qualities and activities are mysterious imitations of worldly affairs. One who invokes His transcendental names, even unconsciously, at the time he quits this life, is certainly washed immediately of the sins of many, many births and attains Him without fail.
[Srimad Bhagavatam 3:9:15]
All the sages said: ‘Dear Dhruva, O son of King Uttanapada, … The holy name of the Lord is as powerful as the Lord Himself. Therefore, simply by chanting and hearing the holy name of the Lord, many men can be fully protected from fierce death without difficulty. Thus a devotee is saved.’
[Srimad Bhagavatam 4:10:30]
… By the grace of the Lord, if a devotee, at the time of death, can simply chant His holy name – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare – simply by chanting this maha-mantra, he immediately surpasses the great ocean of the material sky and enters the spiritual sky. He never has to come back for repetition of birth and death. Simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord, one can surpass the ocean of death …
[Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami: purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 4:10:30]
If My devotee is unable to remember Me at the time of death because of disturbances felt within the body at that time, then I shall remember My devotee and take him back to My supreme abode.