/ Experts


E-beings: From a Sick Head to an Artificial Body


Will human beings sooner or later attain immortality? What form will the biological body take in the future? What scientific discoveries await us in the period up to 2045? We posed these and other questions to Ph.D. engineer and professor Alexander Bolonkin.


2045: Famous futurist and inventor Raymond Kurzweil came out with a prediction near the end of last year that people will be able to receive completely artificial bodies within the next 20 years. Do you think there are real bases for supporting such a prediction?

Alexander Bolonkin: If by an artificial body you mean a completely mechanical body (made of plastics, alloys)—I propose we call it an “E-being”—then yes, given sufficient financing. Talking about a biological body, people will gain access to artificial biological organs. But we will not be able to transfer the old consciousness into a new biological head, i.e. attain immortality.


2045: What does mankind need to do to make this prediction a reality?

A.B.: E-beings (recording apparatuses) can begin to be produced right now, in one or two years, given at least 1-2 million USD. Such an apparatus already exists for spies, but it’s not perfected yet. Perhaps 20 years is enough to optimize the cloning technology for certain organs.


2045: In your opinion, which organs present the biggest difficulties in terms of artificial reproduction and why?

A.B.: The biological head, because of having to transfer information from an old sick head.


2045: Do you think the human body can be improved by creating artificial organs? Can the functioning of some of them be improved or, for instance, superfluous ones be gotten rid of and superpowers be added?

A.B.: Yes. An artificial mechanical body will have incredible power and be able to endure extreme environmental conditions: high temperatures, pressure, radiation, outer space, etc.

An artificial biological (albuminous) body is able only to slightly improve its tolerance to environmental conditions.


2045: An artificial body, as imagined by Kurzweil, will not need organs at all, since it will be set up in a completely different way. An example of such a set up is a body made of nanobots. However, at the moment the most highly developed technological means of extending life span is through the creation of artificial organs. Is that, in your opinion, a dead end in comparison to creating a completely artificial body?

A.B.: The creation of artificial organs will extend human life span and make it more pleasant. But a fundamental solution to the problem lies in the creation of an artificial E-being and in the transformation of mankind into these beings.


2045: Overall, when you imagine the year 2045, what do you see? For example, what are people like? What are they doing? What technologies are they using, what goals are they setting? What do you imagine will be the main inventions in different sectors that will change the world by 2045?

A.B.: People will generally be doing the same things they do now, i.e. waging war, conducting domestic battles, fighting for survival. But most important will be the reflection of the onslaught by fundamentalists on Western values: freedom, human rights, technological progress. Progressive people, people of a different faith, etc., will have their very existence threatened.


2045: There is an opinion that the human brain’s system of life support is, while extremely complex, nonetheless a lot simpler than a fully artificial organism. In addition, according to some, the brain is itself capable of living a lot longer than any other human tissue: several hundred years. Is it possible that transferring the human brain to an artificial vehicle, one controlled through neurointerfaces that are remotely or directly a part of the brain’s life support system, is the next logical step in the development of the project to create an artificial body?

A.B.: Brain proteins likely can live longer than other proteins, but they cannot continue to work with the same intensity. Any honest old person will tell you that. Reproducing the organization and operation of the brain will absolutely not be possible for centuries. And, most importantly, there’s no point in doing so, as mankind has already created multi-level chips and parallel programs that work a million times faster than the sections of the brain. Hundreds of years ago people tried to make wings and copy the flapping motion of birds in order to fly. But flight was achieved by a roundabout method: using fixed wings, a propeller and jet propulsion. The way to circumvent all the difficulties here is to build an artificial E-being.


2045: The part of Kurzweil’s prediction that is most difficult to imagine today is the transferring of consciousness into an artificial vehicle. Do you think there are reasons to believe that that objective can be achieved at least in principle?

A.B.: The only possible means of achieving it is by creating an E-being—though the transferring of consciousness is done easily throughout a person’s life.


2045: What do you think about the idea of creating an international interdisciplinary center devoted to the creation of a “new human”?

A.B.: I think it’s a very good idea. It will be a monumental statue of a man who takes on this difficult but very important task.


2045: Would you be interested in participating in the work of the center, on working on creating artificial organs and an artificial human body?

A.B.: I would consider it an honor to work at such a center.


2045: In what form and under what conditions would you be able to take part in such a project? Would it have to be work using grants from the center? Relocation and work directly in the city center? Consulting? Participation in public discussions and surveys?

A.B.: When a task so monumental and vital to humanity is taken on, I would be happy to participate in any form. Ideally I would work on the development of ideas that I consider the most promising. 


2045: In the field of science you specialize in, which developments are most interesting from the point of view of creating an artificial body?

A.B.: Everyone is working exclusively on the biological body, since it’s clear to scientists and financiers that the creation of artificial organs has the potential to bring in enormous profits in the very near term. As regards an E-being, only a very select few understand the necessity of it, people with long-term vision, who realize of what significant utility this will be for our children.


2045: Given your expertise, with what do you think the task of creating an artificial body should begin: with the creation of individual artificial organs, with the creation of a control system based on neurointerfaces, or with the resolution of organizational and financial issues?

A.B.: All these issues will resolve themselves automatically as soon as scientists learn how to cultivate artificial organs. Just remember one thing: It will be very expensive and will be unavailable to us for a long time.


2045: What do you see as the main obstacles or tasks en route to creating an artificial human body? What do you think the most difficult problem is and why?

A.B.: With regard to the E-being, the main obstacle and the most difficult problem is that it is treated like a robot, and there is a lack of financing.


2045: What needs to be done today in order for an artificial body to be created by mankind by the year 2045?

A.B.: The first thing that needs to be done is the project needs to begin to be financed, and ideally by the government.

Professor Aleksandr A.
Ph.D. in Technical Sciences

‘An artificial mechanical body will have great power and withstand extreme environmental conditions: high temperature, pressure, radiation, space...’

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