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article imageVideo: Avatar inspires scientists to plan brain transplants

By Anne Sewell     Apr 30, 2012 in Science
Moscow - In the wake of the recent popular movie "Avatar", Russian scientists now have plans to transplant people's brains into robots.
A young Russian has launched his own Avatar project. However he has no plans on travelling to another planet and is simply planning on transplanting a human brain into a robot body. Immortality style.
On the company´s website, four stages are laid out:
The first stage, which is named Avatar A, is planning to create a robotic copy of the human body. This robotic body would then be controlled via a brain-computer interface. Stage one is aimed to be completed by 2020.
In the second stage,' Avatar B (Body B), it is planned to create an Avatar into which a human´s brain can be transplanted at the end of the person´s life, and is aimed to be completed by 2025.
The third stage Avatar C, involves creating an Avatar with an artificial brain. Once created a human consciousness or personality will be transferred at the end of a person´s life. Stage 3 is set to start in 2030 and end in 2035.
The final stage, Avatar D - a hologram-like avatar, is to start in 2040 and be completed by 2045.
Dmitri Itskov, head of the Avatar A project says that the aim is to create an autonous system of human brain nutrition. It is necessary to preserve the nerve connection in the brain so that they do not die or degrade. He says this would make it possible to transplant a human head on to an artificial (robot) body.
He told RT, “Unlike in the film, we want to create an android, and not a biological body. I think it will become available to people in just 10 years in the exactly same form.”
The idea behind the work is based on U.S. scientist, Robert White´s experiments with chimps. White showed that an ape´s brain can be removed from the skull and plugged into a system that would keep it alive.
Itskov continues, “Our main goal is to preserve personality and prolong life. Scientists say that if it weren’t for certain diseases and degradations of the cardiovascular system, our brains could live for two or maybe even three hundred years.”
He further states that this "avatar" would not require food or even possibly a home, as it would live according to completely different principles to normal humans.
“Our civilization is experiencing growing pressure in the form of natural and technological disasters – we’re becoming hostages of the technologies we’ve created. In the future, society will change radically, mostly because humans will move on to the next step of evolution.”
The "Avatar" team are now in the process of creating a fund in the U.S. to develop the necessary technology.
A Russian research team in Moscow is already on the verge of creating Avatar-A, which is a human form robot controlled through a brain-computer interface.
Vladimir Konyshev, the chief designer explains to RT, "It is not an android; it should fully resemble a real man. It would be hard to tell him from a man both – close up and from afar.”
“I think in the next few months we will make a robot that will be able to move around on wheels. The next step is to make a robot that can walk, controlled by the movements of a human operator, which we hope to do by next year. If you want to see what our ultimate goal is you can watch movies like Avatar or Surrogates, robots controlled by human thought.”
The robot has been nicknamed Dima, as Dmitry Itskov served as a prototype for the machine and currently tests are being run to fix the robot´s eyesight. Each of the robot´s eyes is an individual camera which views and remembers its surroundings, faces and obstacles.
The robot has a latex skin, under which there is a complicated system of electronics and motors.
Designers are hoping that this robotic skeleton might be the first step towards creating the next generation of artificial intelligence, and possibly even robots that can think for themselves.
At present, the hands operate separately from the body and head, although work is still in progress on this. The hands have pneumatic muscles which can clench the fingers into a fist and use compressed air to force them to contract.
While this all sounds like a science fiction movie, some of the outcome of the experiments are benefitting people who have, for instance, lost limbs. For example, a robotic hand of this nature would be useful to a disabled person who has lost a hand.
Software engineer, Andrey Telezhinsky explains, “This definitely can be used to help disabled people. We already ran some experiments. A subject without a hand tried this technology. He said the hand worked for him. All it takes is to attach electrodes to the undamaged part of the arm so they can read the muscle activity.”
More about Russian, Scientist, Russia, Brain, Transplant
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