Zoltan Istvan plans to cheat death by uploading his brain onto a computer server.
Zoltan is part of a growing movement of people who are trying to become immortal using the internet, writes Jamie Bartlett in his new book, “The Dark Net.”
They call themselves transhumanists, and they believe technology can help humans overcome their fundamental physical and mental limitations.
“Based on current trends, I hope to upload my mind at some point around the middle of this century,” he tells Bartlett, which would allow his mind to live on long after his body dies.
Zoltan’s quest for immortality is not wholly selfish. As a former war correspondent for National Geographic, Zoltan traveled to Vietnam to learn more about the country’s “bomb diggers” — ex-farmers who can make a fortune digging up and selling the salavaged metal from unexploded landmines.
One day, Zoltan almost stepped on one of these landmines, and this near-death experience led him to dedicate his life to transhumanism.
“The incident permanently seared itself into my psyche,” he wrote in the Huffington Post. “It triggered a response that I am still passionately pursuing today: the goal of eliminating human death and suffering.”
Indeed, Zoltan is quick to tell Bartlett of the many ways humanity would benefit if everyone turned their brains into computer files, from increasing our intelligence to reducing our carbon footprint.
Dr. Anders Sandberg, one of the world’s leading experts on mind uploading, agrees: “whole brain emulation,” as he calls it, will solve many of humanity’s problems.
For one thing, it will eliminate our fear of death. Bartlett describes an amusing scene in which he begins choking on noodles while having lunch with Sandberg, who muses that if Bartlett’s mind were backed up on a computer chip it could simply be re-uploaded onto a synthetic body. “Ha! You see?” Sandberg exclaims. “You need a back-up. Everyone needs a back-up. What a waste of human life and potential, to die choking on noodles!”