A Los Angeles man’s alleged plan to resurrect the deceased using cryonics and artificial intelligence may be dead on arrival.
Multiple news outlets these week proclaimed that a company called Humai is developing methods that will get previously dead people up and walking within 30 years. But experts in the field say there’s no way Humai’s plan is feasible, and there’s some evidence the whole thing may be a hoax.
Humai founder and CEO Josh Bocanegra says the company will rely on advances in artificial technology, nanotechnology and cryonics — and some advanced planning from future dead people while they are still alive.
“We’ll first collect extensive data on our members for years prior to their death via various apps we’re developing. After death, we’ll freeze the brain using cryonics technology,” he told PopSci.com.”When the technology is fully developed we’ll implant the brain into an artificial body.”
Bocanegra says the company’s biggest challenge “will be connecting a human brain to a bionic body that functions with your thoughts,” he told The Huffington Post in an email. “For that, we have to do research with neurosurgeons/neuroscientists (among others) and work closely in the field of nanotechnology and biotechnology.”
Humai’s website is basically only a launch page with a request for emails while New Age music plays in the background.
Michael Maven, a British-based business consultant who has developed software that helps retain customers based on previous purchases, told HuffPost that Bocanegra’s idea is ”damn near impossible.”
Maven is skeptical because Bocanegra claims he can do — with only five employees, only two of whom are researchers – what scientists have been trying to do for years, and with no venture capital.
Then there’s the sticky issue of bringing a brain back to life.
“How will he connect it to a machine? You don’t just simply plug it in via USB. Nanotechnology is not an answer, it’s a buzzword,” Maven said via email. “The technology which could extract legible thoughts and ideas out of an organ made of living tissue is nowhere near anything we have yet.”
Andrea Riposati, an artificial intelligence expert formerly employed at Amazon, said Bocanegra’s plan is both a hoax and could be “a very effective way to rob people.”
“Everyone will tell you that the technology is not ready. No reason to believe it will be ready in 30 years,” Riposati told HuffPost by email. “But this is an amazing business model for Humai. They can collect monthly/yearly payments from their customers promising something in the future.”
However, there’s no evidence that Bocanegra is actually asking anyone for cash, and some evidence suggests his plan may not be dead serious.
The 25-year-old’s primary business experience isn’t in tech, but in creating beats for hip-hop artists, according to Forbes. And Bocanegra has a history of Internet ventures of dubious reality. He came to the world’s attention in 2013 when he created “LoveRoom,” a sort of Airbnb home rental system for people who wanted to rent a place where the other guests would be attractive. The idea got a lot of media attention, but Forbes noted that the business didn’t actually exist.
Bocanegra then told Forbes that LoveRoom was a “thought that I would work on if there was interest. But it was really more of a joke because I didn’t think people would really be interested.”
But he now maintains that both projects are for real. He told HuffPost that LoveRoom has over 16,000 members and a reality show in the works, and that the media just misunderstood him when he previously suggested it was fake. And as for Humai?
“Humai is a legit project,” he wrote. “Yes, it’s super ambitious, but that’s the reason why I’m excited to work on it. As an innovator, big ideas have always been my core motivation. Humai is obviously not monetary incentive – at least not anytime soon. This is a project I care deeply about and I only hope to contribute to making an impact on humanity.”
This article has been updated with comments from Josh Bocanegra.
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