Scientists say it will soon be possible to live forever. There's just one catch - you'll have to become a robot.

Russian and Japanese researchers are looking for a way of "uploading" a human mind to a robot or an avatar - a lifelike computerised character.

They claim a person's memories and even personality could be transferred to an artificial lifeform, so that in some ways they will never die. The end result would be a seemingly sentient robot.

Dmitry Itskov, the entrepreneur leading the Russian project, said: "I'm 100 per cent confident it will happen."

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Aiming to achieve immortality within 30 years, scientists for the 2045 initiative believe the human brain behaves in the same way as a computer - allowing its content to be downloaded and uploaded elsewhere.

Mr Itskov added: "Different scientists call it uploading or they call it mind transfer. I prefer to call it personality transfer." The 35-year-old admitted the project was partially driven by his fear of death, but that his main motivator is the "unlimited creative possibilities" eternal life would offer.

Mr Itskov is not alone in his quest for immortality. Japanese robotics engineer Hiroshi Ishiguro - who became famous when he built Erica, a life-like android that can respond to simple questions - intends to create android replicas of the dead.

He told the BBC Horizon documentary The Immortalist, to be broadcast on Wednesday: "We may implement the person's characteristics, and some experiences to the android, then the android will become the person that passed away.

"If we want, we can live in societies for ever."

But Miguel Nicolelis, a Brazilian expert in mind-controlled artificial limbs, said the transfer of the entire contents of a person's mind "simply cannot be done".

He told the Sunday Times the work is "a waste of time, a waste of money and... a waste of our humanity".

- Daily Mail