Dmitry Itskov and his avatar.

It’s a concept well known to sf fans: an artificial stand-in for your biological self that’s stronger and longer lasting than you are. See the movie Surrogates, starring Bruce Willis and James Cameron’s movie Avatar, for example. If a Russian entrepreneur has has way, that reality will come to be by 2045. Hence the name of his 2045 Initiative.

The organization that Dmitry Itskov founded in 2011 is hosting its second Global Futures 2045 International Congress, this June 15 and 16 at New York City’s Lincoln Center (a venue normally noted for its music, dance, and theater performances).

The lineup of speakers includes some of the best minds in the fields of consciousness, neurological modeling, and anthropomorphic robots.

Like the Singularity propounded by one of the speakers, Ray Kurzweil, the 2045 Initiative is predicated on the idea that it will, relatively soon, be possible to transfer human consciousness into artificial constructs that could theoretically last as long as that consciousness desires.

Telepresence—the technologies for transferring one’s sense of physical presence through cameras, microphones, and haptic feedback devices—has proven itself extremely useful in robotics, such as in robotic surgery.

The question remains: will people eventually prefer to live in their robotic avatars fulltime, as Itskov believes? And is that a good idea?

Read more about Itskov, the 2045 Initiative, and the upcoming conference in my story, The Russian Who Would Build Your Avatar, for Popular Mechanics.