The concept of immortality dates back to one of the earliest surviving works of literature, the Epic of Gilgamesh.
For the Russian-born media tycoon and multimillionaire Dmitry Itskov, making immortality a reality has become his primary life objective. He is leading the charge of the transhumanist crusade, an intellectual and cultural movement based on the assertion that the human species is still in a comparatively early phase of development. Partially derived from the humanist movement, transhumanists hope to use technology to eliminate aging and augment our psychological, physical, and intellectual capacities. In the same way that we employ rational means of technology to shape the external world, we can also use said means to shape what it means to be human and essentially transpose consciousness into a new, human-based singularity.
As this chapter of exploring the possibility of becoming post-human begins to unfold, so too have many criticisms of the movement. Many opponents believe redefining what it means to be human may pose threats to human values and may be detrimental to our existence. This is where Itskov and his 2045 initiative come into play.
Itskov puts high spirituality, culture, ethics, science, and high technologies at the tip of his iceberg of ideologies. It is not as though he wants to achieve immortality just for the sake of doing so—he wants to do it because he thinks we have no other choice given the multitude of challenges facing global civilisation. What it really boils down to is Itskov’s love for humanity, his love for our ability to make decisions as individuals, and his love for creating a satisfying future of cybernetic immortality.
Keeping our core principles of humanity in place and placing a high value on autonomy is essential as we begin engineering the software of biology. We have decommissioned natural selection and have started to become the chief agents of evolution—if we do this properly, immortality may be just around the corner.