In 1942, writer Jerry Siegel (the co-creator of "Superman") and artist Leo Nowak introduced a comic-book character named Robotman, a scientist whose human brain had been transplanted into an immortal robot body. Now, a Russian multimillionaire has proposed making this a reality by the year 2045.

Robot immortality is the brainchild of Dmitry Itskov, an Internet entrepreneur who wants to help people live forever. To accomplish that goal, he founded the 2045 Initiative in 2011 to bring together specialists in robotics, artificial organs, neural interfaces and related technologies. This week he is hosting the Global Future 2045 International Congress in New York City, a conference with the goal of developing "a new strategy for human evolution."

Itskov has reportedly already reached out to a long list of billionaires offering them the first shot at this technology — for a fee that has yet to be disclosed. "You have the ability to finance the extension of your own life up to immortality," Itskov wrote to his potential clients. "Our civilization has come very close to the creation of such technologies: it's not a science-fiction fantasy. It is in your power to make sure that this goal will be achieved in your lifetime."

The 2045 project has four projected phases, using a word you may have come to know from a certain James Cameron movie. In the Avatar A phase, which will run from 2015 to 2020, Itskov's scientists will aim to create a robotic copy of a human body. In the Avatar B phase, they hope to transplant a human brain into a robot, something they say they plan to accomplish by 2025. In the next five years, they hope to do this with an artificial brain after copying the personality and memories of a person at the end of their life. In the final, Avatar D, phase, which will run from 2040 to 2045, they aim to create a hologram-like life form that would live forever.

It's not all about the mechanics. As the Huffington Post reports, Itskov's plan also involves creating a new spiritual practice and rethinking both religion and the very nature of death. He is already living his life in ways designed to improve his personal lifespan: he doesn't drink alcohol, he doesn't eat meat, and he meditates or does yoga for hours every day.

Itskov has reported already invested $3 million of his own money into the project, and it seems that tapping the pockets of billionaires who want to keep on going into the next century will help fund the rest of the research. "Money is a kind of energy," he told Forbes. "This energy can help to transform your vision into something real, something you can touch. I understand that money is essential. But in parallel, there is the energy of the idea. It can unite more than the richest people in this world."

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Billionaires could live forever by putting their brains in robots
Russian tycoon Dmitry Itskov says the technology will be a reality by 2045.