I first noticed the Russia 2045 initiative late last year, and remarked on it as a contrasting approach to achieving agelessness. A diversity of initiatives is a good thing in any field of human endeavor:
To my eyes, the most interesting aspect of this Russia 2045 initiative is that, unlike any other serious proposal I'm aware of, their focus is on getting out of biology and into machine bodies as rapidly as possible. ... In essence, this is a course to throw away as much of the body as possible as soon as possible - a path based on a different set of preconceptions about difficulty and efficiency on the road leading to an artificial brain hosting a once-biological human mind. If aiming for life spans of thousands of years, this is the exactly same place we'll get to in the end even if we start out by maintaining our biological bodies and brains for as long as possible through rejuvenation biotechnologies.
In essence the Russia 2045 strategy swaps most of the challenges and research goals of rejuvenation biotechnology for a different set of challenges and research goals regarding brain-machine interfaces, supporting the brain outside the body, and maintaining the brain against aging while doing it. Whether this makes for an easier problem space is very open to debate.
But on with the more recent news: there was a Global Future 2045 conference last month, organized by the same group:
"Global Future 2045" is a nonprofit organization with the goal of creating a network community with the world's leading scientists in the field of life extension and to support them as an investment hub, contributing to various projects.
You should peruse the presentation videos, as they give a fair idea as to the focus: to transcend biology as rapidly as possible, and outline the details of that path in much the same spirit as the SENS platform discusses how to retain one's biology in good working condition for as long as desired.
A Wired article provides a little more background on this organization and its backer:
Dmitry Itskov, a 31-year-old Russian media mogul, [has] a massive, sci-fi-esque venture of his own ... Itskov's plan: Construct robots that'll (within 10 years, he hopes) actually store a human's mind and keep that consciousness working. Forever. "This project is leading down the road to immortality," Itskov, who founded New Media Stars, a Russian company that runs several online news outlets, tells Danger Room. "A person with a perfect Avatar will be able to remain part of society. People don't want to die."
Until now, most of the work on Itskov's Avatar has taken place in Russia, where he claims to have hired 30 researchers - all of them paid out of his own deep pockets. Now, Itskov plans to take the mission global. "I want to collaborate with scientists from around the world," he says. "This is a new strategy for the future; for humanity."
As a technology program that requires a great deal of research, this project will succeed for the long term only if it expands out into the broader scientific community: relationships built, knowledge exchanged, interest spurred. Pointed, narrow-focus programs within well-funded small groups can achieve their milestones, but they cannot build enough to change the world without large numbers of other participants joining in, competing, filling in the gaps, and building on top of the foundations. This is true of all ventures that aim that high - if the first step is vision, and the second step obtaining resources, then the last is persuasion.
In any case, I look forward to seeing how this develops. The world needs more earnest, vocal people out to build their slice of the science fiction future and persuade as many others as will listen.