An Interview With Dmitry Itskov

Dmitry Itskov is the wealthy businessman who drives the 2045 Initiative, an advocacy and development program aimed at producing artificial replacements for the human body and eventually brain: a life extension plan that involves discarding as much of our biology as rapidly as possible. This is a stark contrast with other initiatives that aim to remove aging as a cause of death and disability by better maintaining our biology. The Global Futures 2045 conference is taking place in New York a few weeks, hence more media notice has been given to the project of late.

In this interview with Itskov you can see there is a lot of religious aspiration mixed in with the technological goals, which is both interesting from a cultural perspective and somewhat disquieting. Though perhaps the latter reaction is just parochial unfamiliarity at work - religion in public isn't something you typically see all that much of in the futurist and longevity science communities of the English-language world:

Basically, if you're asking me about what brought me to the project - to the idea - I would say it was kind of an evolution of my personal world view. You know, I had been successful in business, but I understood that I wasn't happy with just getting and spending money. It was just an epiphany when I realized that I wanted just to be of service to humanity - to create a project which will be really useful that could probably change the world. And I can further explain why I want it to be changed. I have always been in the technology business. I've always been connected to technology and I've been interested in life extension technology, but finally it was my personal spiritual quest and the desire to understand the real meaning of life and my place in this universe and that led me to the spiritual side of the project and I started meeting spiritual masters and talking to them - trying to ask them questions about the soul, about the nature of a human being. And from those meetings came the idea to mix science and technology and to establish a kind of public project which could raise all those questions which are so important to humanity now-a-days; the period when we are facing these numerous crises. In parallel with talking to spiritual masters, I started my consultations with scientists and that was how we created the broad map, which you can find on our website - the broad map of the Avatar Project.

So, the global goal is to create and realize a new strategy for the development of humanity which could meet global civilization changes and finally lead us to the kind of new world which will be based on five main principles, as I say. Those principles are high spiritually, high culture, high ethics, high science and high technologies. And the core of the idea is basically the assumption that now we need two revolutions. Two revolutions which actually plays in two parts: the first one is a spiritual one that could change the world view of people and the values which could set new goals and second is a technological revolution which could significantly accelerate the progress of the technology which would unite people and probably establish a new mega-project which could make the scientists in the future new super stars in our society.



What the 2045 people need to do is develop a roadmap. They don't need a "spiritual revolution" or any more grandiloquent verbiage at this stage, they need a description of what they actually intend to do. I have remarked before that I could not find two words put back-to-back on the topic of how the interface between the "biological replacements" and the remaining biology will operate or how they intend to develop such a thing. Neural interfaces are the most critical part, but there is nothing on the topic in any of their writings.

I had hoped that this initiative could become something of a parallel counterpart to SENS, a research program oriented toward the same goals but with different methods. As it stands, however, for any particular aspect of SENS you can ask "How shall we accomplish this?" and there are reasonable suggestions. For similar questions about the non-biological approach, there are not even unreasonable suggestions. There are complete lacunae in their inchoate proposals where no thought or reasoning of any kind has been employed.

As it is, I remain interested from a distance but frustrated by the lack of rigour and concrete planning.

Posted by: José at May 31st, 2013 12:10 PM
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