Humans may one day be able to live forever and even bring the dead back to life, a “transhumanist” believes.
Alexey Turchin is a Russian academic who has dedicated his work to the pursuit of immortality inspired by the death of a childhood friend when he was only 11.
He has published several books on the subject, and recently released a paper titled the Classification of Approaches to Technological Resurrection for the Foundation Science for Life Extension in Moscow.
Written with fellow scholar Maxim Chernyakov, it contains something called an “Immortality Roadmap” which details four different paths to indefinite life so that readers can “choose their own adventure”. If one plan for life extension should fail, there are three others as back up.
“Death seems to be a permanent event, but there is no actual proof of its irreversibility,” the authors write.
“Here we list all known ways to resurrect the dead that do not contradict our current scientific understanding of the world. While no method is currently possible, many of those listed here may become feasible with future technological development, and it may even be possible to act now to increase their probability.”
Plan A is simply surviving until technology becomes advanced enough to artificially prolong life. In the meantime humans who want to live forever must simply stave off death by replacing their organs with bioengineered ones or simply staying alive in a “nanotech body”.
As these methods are mostly unavailable or unsuccessful, Turchin recommends Plan B – cryonics, or freezing the body until a solution is developed, a service already offered by several companies.
Plan C is “digital immortality”, which involves preserving data about a specific person so that they can be reconstructed in the future by AI beyond current capabilities. It’s also known as “indirect mind uploading”.
The tech dystopian series Black Mirror portrayed the downsides of this kind of technology in the episode Be Right Back, in which a woman recreates her dead husband in a cyborg based on his social media history.
Turchin is already committed to ensuring his preservation in internet history – he’s been recording every minute detail of his life as it happens.
He hopes that one day, a superintelligent AI will be able to take all this information and create a digital version of himself. This digitised person could even be downloaded into a host body cloned from Turchin’s own body while he was alive, Israel 365 News reports.
Plan D is simple: have faith in the possibility of immortality, either on the quantum level or through AI.
Turchin recommends applying all four of the approaches to have the best chance of living forever, but it could be a long wait.
“The development of AI is going rather fast, but we are still far away from being able to ‘download’ a human into a computer,” he told Russia Beyond.
“If we want to do it with a good probability of success, then count on [the year] 2600, to be sure.”
And there’s another technology-in-waiting that could help his vision of eternal life be realised: time travel that brings the dead back to life.
“More speculative ways to immortality include combinations of future superintelligence on a galactic scale, which could use simulation to resurrect all possible people, and new physical laws, which may include time-travel or obtaining information from the past,” the paper reads.
A powerful time travel machine would require an immense amount of energy, which the researchers theorise could be provided by a “Dyson Sphere”.
This hypothetical megastructure would completely encompass a star to capture a large percentage of its power output.
A Dyson Sphere around our sun would produce roughly 400 septillion watts per second, they said, concluding that some kind of immortality or death reversal is not only possible but certain.
“There many possible approaches to technological resurrection and thus if large-scale future technological development occurs, some form of resurrection is inevitable,” they wrote.