May. 27, 2011 —
It’s been quite a couple of weeks for erstwhile Hollywood action heroes. First, Arnold Schwarzenegger disgraces both the Mr. Olympia crown and the Terminator franchise by fathering a child with his family’s housekeeper. And now we learn that Steven Seagal has endorsed the “Russia 2045” strategic social movement, which seeks to make Russia the center of immortality and artificial body research.
Seagal – star of such films as Above the Law and Under Siege, an environmentalist and animal rights activist, and a practicing Buddhist – recently wrote an open letter to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin urging him to support “Russia 2045.” “This is a movement that is, in fact, not only easing the suffering of those who are suffering,” he said, “but actually able to give new life in instances where someone would perish imminently and sometimes immediately.”
Before we spend too much time diagramming this sentence – and before I devote too much space to poking fun at Seagal, who at 59 years old could still easily squash me like a bug – let’s take a closer look at “Russia 2045.” Founded in February by Dmitry Itskov, president of New Media Stars, the “movement” aims to combine a range of technologies to create working cybernetic organisms by the year 2045. To this end, it has established a four-step “work schedule of immortality corporation”:
1. Artificial copy of the human body operated by way of neural interface (mass production by 2020)
2. Artificial copy of the human body into which the brain is transplanted at the end of life (first commercial copy by 2025)
3. Artificial copy of the human body into which the mind is transferred at the end of life (creation of artificial brain by 2030; mind transfer achieved by 2035)
4. Hologram body (mind transfer achieved by 2045)
“Russia 2045” brings together biotech professionals, writers, artists, futurologists and scientists from the fields of neural interfaces, artificial organs, systems and more. Its website features interviews with many of these. The interviews can only be described as “wide ranging”: Some are fascinating ruminations on what it means to be human; others, desultory and occasionally incoherent ramblings.
If it all sounds a bit kooky to you, well, you’re probably not alone. In any event, I suspect “Russia 2045” is less about achieving “the most amazing breakthrough in science in the history of mankind … almost a kind of paradise on Earth” (Seagal’s words, not mine) than about fostering a sort of nationalist pride in Russian research and – more importantly, of course – encouraging investment in it. Really, what better way to do so than to organize a number of disparate fields around a single big idea, especially one such as this. I mean, who doesn’t want to live forever?