2045 - Avatar Project Complex Ghost In The Shell -
Step 1: Control Robots With Your Mind
The first step isn't all that science fiction. Brain implants have already allowed humans to use artificial limbs and a monkey has controlled a robotic arm, thanks to research by neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis. Itskov plans to take these projects further and control an entire robot with one's mind.
Step 2: Transplant Brain Into Humanoid Robot
If you are on the verge of dying, Itskov aims to preserve your brain and transplant it into a robot, essentially giving you a new body.
Step 3: Upload Consciousness Into Humanoid Robot
The brain is still an organic tissue and will die off. The next step is to research ways to upload your brain to the humanoid so that you, essentially, never die.
Step 4: Replace Humanoid Robot With Hologram
What fun is it living in a robot body? Why not live in a hologram so that you can fly at the speed of light and walk through walls?
Step 1, having robot surrogates controlled by your mind, is realistic, so much so that it has already been demonstrated to a small degree by humans controlling limbs. The Pentagon, with its Avatar project, hopes to build entire surrogates, just like Itskov, but has no further ambitions. The latter steps are enormous leaps in technology which Itskov aims to be solved by 30 researchers, whom he has reportedly hired. He also has plans to work with DARPA on his project and believes that Step 4 is possible within 30 years.
Itskov is ambitious and perhaps overly optimistic in terms of his short timeline. Regardless, he is convinced that, one day, his futuristic vision will become reality, sooner or later.
"Years ago, people didn't believe the internet could work," he says. "I think of Avatar in the same light. Right now, the idea is new and radical. It won't always be that way."
Do memes exist independent of consciousness or is consciousness a prerequisite for meme production?
"Consciousness is an illusion constructed by the memes. "
- Dr. Susan Blackmore -
To answer you more fluidly, is consciousness required? I don't think consciousness is required for anything. I think that question implies a certain kind of theory about consciousness. The relationship between consciousness and memes is very interesting. You see people unconsciously copy a whole lot of things. For example, you probably know that people who like each other, when they're in conversation, they copy each other's way of standing, facial expressions, and so on. That's memetic. They're actually copying them. And people they don't like, they sort of stand back and they don't do that. That's entirely unconscious but people also unconsciously copy gestures, all sorts of things. And those are memes, they've been copied unconsciously. To some extent we're not really conscious at all of most of the memes we copy. We chat and we pass things on without really thinking about it.
What interests me is why do we have these false theories about consciousness and in particular, false theories about the self. You know, this idea that I am somehow inside my body running the show and that I have conscious experiences, I'm sure this is false. One of the things that I did in The Meme Machine and have done subsequently in more detail is to ask the question why should we have such an illusion? It doesn't benefit the genes for us to have an illusion, I don't think. But it does benefit the memes because if we have this false idea of self and go around, "I want this and I do that and I need that" and so on, all of this encourages these memes. "I believe in God" - that helps the idea of God rather that me just saying God. "I believe in God" passes it on. It is to the meme's benefit, to cluster around and make a huge memplex, this selfplex, and I think that the memes have caused us to get into this illusion of a self, an illusion of what consciousness is like - which we're completely wrong about - so I blame the memes.
If one's physical body is lost, can a person's mind traverse the net, while maintaining its existence and individual identity?
Who knows? It is difficult to believe that unified consciousness can be maintained in the "sea" that is the net, after having lost its shell.
This world would then be despair itself for those who lose their identities, even as they live.
That depends on what they have done before reaching that conclusion. They might as well try dying in that case, don't you think?
That could be a possibility. In the meantime, I would like to express my gratitude. Thank you. The way in which you kept your promise was exceptionally charming.
Ordinary´╗┐ human beings are conscious. That is, there is something it is like´╗┐ to be us. Can´╗┐ an upload be conscious? Suppose that I can upload my brain into a computer? Will the result be me? But before it, what is the consciousness? We have the ghost? I want to know´╗┐ it.