A backup of the human mind via AI , coming next?

There are always people in front of the statue of Alexander Pushkin, the great early 19th-century Russian poet, on Moscow’s Arbat Street pedestrian mall.

An old woman, asked whether she would like to speak with Pushkin, said she would indeed be happy to meet the genius.

A project underway in the Russian town of Skolkovo, which is designated as a special economic zone, aims to fulfill that wish by creating a Pushkin humanoid robot equipped with artificial intelligence. The robot’s AI system has mastered poems and letters written by Pushkin and is designed to evolve by studying its own conversations with humans.

Developer Vladimir Konyshev, the general manager of Neurobotics, said the robot can teach students “his own” poems while exchanging opinions with them as a teacher of literature.

Think faster

Famous people are not the only targets of such projects. Randal Koene, a former research professor at Boston University who leads brain science studies at the Los Angeles-based venture company Kernel, plans to preserve human minds via the internet and make them live on as another version of ourselves.

The project aims to first re-create the hippocampus, which is deeply associated with memories, using AI. If the entire brain can be reproduced, a personality can also be created.

But Koene is aiming for even more. He also wants to expand the human capacity using AI.

The virtual clones created by the project will be able to think 10 times faster than our real selves and memorize everything they see and hear. Over the course of their eternal lives, they may be able to accomplish feats that are impossible during a normal human lifetime.

Power perpetuation

After losing a loved one, it is natural to wish for the person to come back to life. A team led by Yuji Sasaki, a second-year student at Japan’s Kwansei Gakuin Senior High School, wrote a research paper titled “the development of robots that copy human personalities.” It was started because Sasaki wanted to talk to his deceased grandfather.

But the potential comes with risks. If AI becomes able to revive a dead person, and if people on their deathbeds are given the opportunity to live forever as robots, young people would not have the chance to show their talents.

Although Sasaki feels a desire to reunite with his grandfather, he said, “If everything we think is taken over by AI, we will lose the raison d’etre of humans living in the moment.”

A rumor that has spread across Russia, saying that President Vladimir Putin is trying to rule his country forever by re-creating himself using AI, reflects a fear many people feel about the perpetuation of power. The rumor stems from a project initiated by the nonprofit organization 2045 Initiative in Moscow, which plans to create an AI-equipped robot with an individual personality.

Although the organization has denied the Putin rumor, some people are alarmed by the idea that AI could create a situation where the same leader continues to cling to power.

Despite the risks, technological advancements cannot be stopped. At some point, humans will have to consider how we would deal with another, immortal version of ourselves.

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