Spirituality principles, struggles, knowledge base and insights for the earnest seeker.

Achieving Immortality – A Modern Approach

immortalityFor as long as history has been recorded, humans have been obsessed with death and of achieving immortality. Today billions of people around the world believe in some religion all of which promise some form of immortality.

Death indeed is fearful. If it is the end of us then our existence would not have meant much. As such many believe in some form of life after death in which they can continue to be with their loved ones. Still countless others try to achieve immortality through work and deeds. Art and literature are efforts by man to ensure some of him remains on earth long after he is gone. Others do great deeds and build great monuments to leave a lasting legacy. However for most of us, we achieve immortality through our children. Having survived us they then pass on the genes and names of our family and ensure both remain to the next generation. As such each generation has invented ways and means to achieve immortality.

Immortality Now?

In the 21st century, the search for immortality has taken a new dimension. Science and technology has given man a new tool with which to find a new way to achieve immortality. Today numerous individuals and teams of scientist around the world are studying ways with which we can extract, store and even transfer human consciousness – the very thing that makes us who we are. There is even a government funded program engage in this endeavour. If these scientist are successful then humans would be able to achieve true immortality here and now. To say this is unprecedented would be  an understatement. If successful, this has the ability to make death obsolete and turn man into gods.

Immortality Documentary

BBC Horizon’s The Immortalist documents the research that is now being carried out by scientist around the world in the field of human conscious extraction, storage and transfer. It is an absolutely fascinating look at an already absolutely fascinating subject. Just watch the trailer to convince yourself.

The Immortalist Trailer

[tabs slidertype=”top tabs” fx=”slide”] [tabcontainer] [tabtext]Watch Online[/tabtext] [tabtext]Download[/tabtext] [tabtext]Read Transcript[/tabtext] [/tabcontainer] [tabcontent] [tab]Watch on BBC Website[/tab] [tab]Click here to download torrent file.[/tab] [tab]In 2013, a Russian internet millionaire funded a conference in New York with an extraordinary aim – to see if a system could be created that would allow him to live for ever. If there is no immortality technology, I’ll be dead in the next 35 years. Top neuroscientists, robot builders and researchers were invited. How long you live really does matter. How could you increase what we’re able to do? Konichiwa. Konichiwa. The ambition was to unlock the human brain, extract the mind and upload it to a computer. The ultimate goal of my plan is to transfer someone’s personality into a completely new body. It is possible to preserve memory and personality, for thousands of years, in storage. Look at that cerebellum right there. Isn’t that neat? Frozen in time. Meet the immortalist. My name is Dmitry Itskov. Within the next 30 years, I am going to make sure that we can all live for ever. It’s too stupid. It simply cannot be done. A waste of time, a waste of money, and it’s a waste of our humanity. As our ability to connect brains to technology grows, is it so crazy to think we could live for ever in machines? I am 100% confident it will happen… ..otherwise I wouldn’t have started it. Trying to make the impossible possible starts in the imagination. My biggest dream when I grew up was to be a cosmonaut – to fly into outer space and to explore new planets. That sort of dream has always been with me. There was an interesting book and the main hero took some immortality pill, and he ended up flying on the orbit of Earth. I remember myself questioning what I was going to do if I’m immortal. When he grew up, Dmitry Itskov became an internet mogul. He says he now spends part of his fortune trying to bring about immortality. Not everything can be disclosed at the moment but, yes, I have been funding this science with my own money. We are talking about millions of dollars. Dmitry is one of a growing number of the mega-rich who are funding their own scientific projects. He is fascinated by signs of a coming world. Osaka, Japan – where technology is changing what it is to be alive… and what it is to die. Where science fiction is being made real. The descending scientist is a builder of robots that look like us… ..and a thinker of seemingly impossible thoughts. Prof Hiroshi Ishiguro went to Dmitry’s conference in 2013. His ambition is to make his machines as human-like as possible. Hiroshi’s latest creation eclipses all his others. This is Erica. Konichiwa! TRANSLATION: Ishiguro. Erica is powered by artificial intelligence – a database of conversations, behaviours, even emotions. As Hiroshi improves Erica’s autonomy, telling the machine and the human apart could become increasingly difficult. Hiroshi’s newest machine is inspiring a dream of endless life of a kind. Death is to disappear from this world, right? Androids like Erica are changing what it might be to die. Erica is not based on any actual person but, in the future, Hiroshi could build android replicas of real people, powered by databases of real memories and behaviours. It’s a vision of the future some may find unsettling, to see dead loved ones living on as robot replicas. Imagine a world where there are no graves to dig… ..a world of mind-spinning possibility… ..home to Dmitry Itskov. His ambition soars beyond leaving behind a robot copy of himself when he dies. The immortality of memories is useless for the individual. Real immortality is the extension of your journey in this life. All the rest is just useless for someone whose world is dying with him, and real immortality technology should create something to avoid this death. Is this just a fantasy of the super-rich? Because to try to defeat death is to challenge time itself. Our DNA goes through millions of damaging events per day. Our cells have the machinery to repair that damage and we have that machinery throughout life but unfortunately it gets a little less efficient as we age. Cardiovascular disease and other age-related conditions kill around two-thirds of us. Unfortunately, you know, ageing is an inevitable process. We would love to find some elixir, fountain of youth, that can prolong life for ever but that’s just not how it works. You know, we’re going to die at some point. The oldest person ever recorded died after 122 years. But Dmitry has a plan to bypass ageing. The problem now is that our biological body ages. That’s why I decided to develop a completely new body, and that would extend the life almost endlessly. We have long been fascinated by building mechanical copies of ourselves. Half a century ago, it was even predicted we would one day merge with the machines we make. We may have a society in which robots will drift away from total metal toward the organic, and human beings will drift away from the total organic toward the metal and plastic, and that somewhere in the middle they may eventually meet. The first stage of Dmitry’s grand plan echoes Asimov’s prophecy. He wants to control a new robot body using just the power of his mind. How do we control our physical, biological body? We just think of doing an action. We just think of, let’s say, moving an arm and it moves. So what is important is to create that sort of experience with the artificial body – that you just start perceiving that body as a natural one, in a way that the new body becomes a part of your personality. The power of our thoughts is already being harnessed using knowledge gleaned more than a century ago. Prof Rafael Yuste is one of the scientists behind a $6 billion project to try to map the entire activity of the human brain. My own personal dream is to understand how one thought is generated. Rafael is inspired by the Spanish pathologist Santiago Ramon Cajal, who discovered the basic building blocks of the brain in the late 1880s. Cajal in a way was a cartographer. He’s the cartographer of the mind. By studying brain tissue, Cajal found that individual cells, neurons, were connected in circuits. So these are original drawings from Cajal. Neurons look like little trees, maybe, that have branches, which are the part of the brain that receives the input from other neurons. And then they have roots that send information to other neurons. The human brain is made up of around 86 billion neurons. These cells communicate information by sending electrical charges to each other. So just like little computers that use zeros and ones to transmit information, neurons fire these little sparks. So it’s a system of interconnected cells, and you have to imagine them as flashes of light, which are actually voltages, that are propagating like waves through the brain. The way neurons fire is a complex interaction of biochemistry, anatomy and physiology. But scientists can now tap into these electrical signals and use the power of our thoughts in life-changing ways. At Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Los Angeles, researchers are merging the human and the robot more than ever before. Meet Erik Sorto. Deep inside his brain are two arrays of electrodes. In the beginning, I was very conscious of them. Now I completely forget they’re there until somebody reminds me, like, “What’s that on your head?” I’m like, “Oh, yeah, that’s right. “I have two pedestals sticking out of my head.” Erik’s life changed when he was 21 and a member of a gang. I was lost. I was lost, confused, young and wild. On January 2nd 2002, I suffered a gunshot which left me paralysed from the shoulders down. Erik’s spinal cord was severed, stopping the signals from his brain that control movement reaching his limbs. I’m a C3-C4 complete quadriplegic complete. To try to restore movement he has lost, Erik is part of a trial to merge his brain with a robot arm. Hi, Spencer! Hey! A typical working day for Erik starts like this. Scientists from Caltech are connecting Erik’s brain to computers which will decode what he is thinking. I think this is all good. Can you move your head? Everything good? Yeah. Right, I think you are ready to go. All right. The team check they are recording the activity of a tiny number of individual neurons out of the 86 billion that make up his brain. Erik, I’ll show you a couple of your units. So this is channel 64. 64 is looking nice, huh? Looking very nice, actually. Has a nice high firing rate. What are you thinking about? Recording the firing of individual neurons is only possible because Erik agreed to take a risk others might not. The most challenging part was the brain surgery. You ask all the questions but you never know what can happen during surgery. We create a window in the skull by cutting out a window of bone. Surgeons implanted two arrays of 96 electrodes, about four millimetres long, into Erik’s brain. The ability to record at the single cell level requires that we do these types of invasive procedures. The bone filters out quite a lot of the information. On a given day, the electrodes might pick up around 60 neurons. They are not always the same ones, probably because the arrays move slightly. So Erik has had to train hard to activate neurons to calibrate the computers. I have a neuron that, to make it fire, I have to envision my arm doing a windmill. I have a neuron that likes to punch so to get it firing, I pretend I’m jabbing. All right, let’s get to work. So, let’s do some training. To control the robot arm, Erik must complete two mental tasks in response to colours appearing on the screen in front of him. Green is going to be, “Bring your hand to your mouth.” And red will be subtracting, you’re going to start at 100 and count down by six. As he thinks each thought, the computers record which neurons fire in his brain. The green thought will be used to start the robot, the red to stop it. This attempt to merge the human and machine relies on understanding how the brain controls movement. For three decades, Prof Richard Andersen has been investigating the workings of one particular region of the brain. So we’re interested in the[/tab] [/tabcontent] [/tabs]



A labor of love for the seeker – whoever you are and wherever you may be. May you find solace in these words.

Your brother in spirit

ben gill

Keep in touch