back to article 11-year-old graduate announces plans to achieve immortality by 'replacing body parts with mechanical parts'

Eleven-year-old Laurent Simons has become the second-youngest college graduate in history after obtaining a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Antwerp. The gifted Belgian child, who finished high school at the age of eight and has an IQ of 145, completed the three-year course in only a year, topping his class …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if the body will have a 5G spot...

    Sorry ;)

  2. Chris Gray 1

    That would be a handfull.

  3. Spherical Cow Silver badge

    I for one

    welcome our new pre-teen overlord.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: I for one

      sadly, "overLord of the Flies" is a more likely outcome (when 11 year olds get too much power) regardless of how smart they are.

      Book smarts is one thing. Academic achievement another. But experience is the one thing that an expedient educational achiever can NOT master. And with experience, wisdom.

      (I say give the kid something useful to do, but don't put him in charge)

      then again, in the movie "Lord of the Flies', wasn't the smart kid the first one to get killed?

      1. jason_derp Bronze badge

        Re: I for one

        Most "wisdom" I've ever been given seems to be firsthand accounts of horrible things happening, or why everything was better before I was born. (I've come to the conclusion that perhaps the best time to be born was ~5000 BCE given that this trend seems to crop up in ancient times as well. The phrase "misplaced nostalgia for an imagined past" comes to mind.)

        The atrocity angle might be worth exploring though. Maybe stick him in a room with some modern French horror movies and give him a week at a slaughterhouse. Maybe a Dachau tour and a combat medic tent. Let's accelerate this "wizening" and see what happens. Not like he could do any more damage then the other 7 billion of us. A kid this smart might be capable of ending suffering for all humans if properly prepared.

        1. Stumpy

          Re: I for one

          "A kid this smart might be capable of ending endless suffering for all humans if properly prepared."

          There. FTFY.

        2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          He's already thinking of transforming our bodies into machine-based parts.

          All we need is to actually invent AI and we have the beginning of The Matrix.

  4. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge

    Er ...

    "Immortality, that is my goal. I want to be able to replace as many body parts as possible with mechanical parts."

    That sort of statement is usually accompanied by a clasping of hands while laughing maniacally.

    "His grandparents, who mainly raised him, have cardiac issues and he reportedly wants to help them."

    For some reason I'm now imagining The Colossus of New York wandering around looking for his slippers, and being unable to recall why he was at the UN Building in the first place.

  5. HildyJ Silver badge

    Just because they called Dr. Frankenstein crazy

    Doesn't mean Laurent Simons is crazy as well. His motivation (to help his grandparents with failing hearts) seem pure.

    Unfortunately, like most pre-teens, he doesn't understand that "look into their brains" sounds creepy (although not as creepy as when Elon says it).

    OTOH, wait til he hits puberty and decides which organ is really important.

    1. andy k O'Croydon

      Re: Just because they called Dr. Frankenstein crazy

      When I was growing up and my parents repeatedly played a tape in the car that featured Peter Sarstedt's Where Do You Go To My Lovely, I always took that as a literal interpretation.

  6. FF22

    Not right in the head

    A 11 year old that's already obsessed with immortality is definitely a case for some serious psychotherapy. Also the fact that he doesn't realize that even if he'd be successfully able to replace his body parts with mechanical ones wouldn't allow him to reach any kind of actual immortality (and at our current technological level would actually shorten his lifespan dramatically) makes it clear that he's not as smart as some try to make that out.

    1. edris90

      Re: Not right in the head

      Many kids are enchanted with the idea of beimg a cyborg. So are many adults. They difference is this child hasnt been beaten down by society yet and still belives in himself. So he doesnt fearfully limit what he says to only what people may want to hear.

      As opposed to the socialy dominated gen pop

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: Not right in the head

        Well which 70's kid here didn't fancy being the Six Million Dollar Man back in the 70's.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not right in the head

    2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: current technological level

      Nice rant. Seems pretty clear his goal is to advance our technological level, not stick at current levels.

  7. edris90

    Maybe hes smart enough to realize that something seeming creepily is just an artifact of bias and so amounts to sentimental nonsense

    The topic was his goals. not what goals might Be socially advantaged to express.

  8. D. Evans

    Stelarc v2?

    Oh god. I'd hoped had taught people "just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should".

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Haven't you heard ?

      People don't learn.

      Individuals might, but people don't.

    2. edris90

      Re: Stelarc v2?

      But whether or not it proves useful then not or, can only be discovered in hindsight of trying anyway.

      So might as well get on with the experiment.

  9. DS999 Silver badge

    IQ of only 145?

    So the reason he graduated that early has to be because he has parents who pushed him hard to test out of high school as young as possible, since the three years to graduate college is about normal for someone who takes a slightly heavier class load that's easily feasible if you totally ignore the social aspect (i.e. not going out to drink six nights a week like many of us did in college) and takes classes in summer instead of working/partying. If he was smarter he'd have been able to manage it in two years.

    He's barely "genius" level, so why should we care what his "plans" are when he's just a socially deprived 11 year old with terrible parents?

    1. Def Silver badge

      Re: IQ of only 145?

      Yeah, 145 seemed low to me too to be honest.

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: IQ of only 145?

        The whole concept of assessing intelligence in a single numeric value is fatally flawed.

        The only thing IQ tests measure is how good you are at doing IQ tests.

        1. Anonymous Kiwi

          Re: IQ of only 145?

          Give or take about 50 depending on which test you take.

    2. edris90

      Re: IQ of only 145?

      The social world is dysfunctional, counter productive, and general only competent at Is providing additional potential to be exploited or manipulated.

      Good riddance. Outside social illusions and institutionalized mechanisms of gaslighting and centralized control, There is an incredible world of consistent function and creative discovery for those who would not limit themselves to the mucky schemes of social life.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: IQ of only 145?

        If it wasn't for social life, humans would never have mastered fire, because it would have to be independently discovered by every generation if one generation doesn't teach the next.

  10. Def Silver badge

    "He had originally planned to graduate from Eindhoven University in the Netherlands at the age of nine in 2019, which would have made him the youngest graduate, but he took a gap year to travel around Asia and do some charity work."


    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      There were also some problems with the board of the Eindhoven University (made the Dutch news at the time), so he switched to Antwerp (in Belgium).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, looks like we got us a reader!

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Well, looks like we got us a reader!

      You ever been to a waffle house and noticed that the menu has pictures of the food on it?


  12. Ordinary Donkey

    Covid related?

    I'm going to guess that the move to online learning has made it much easier to pass degrees in less time.

  13. Securitymoose

    What about the brain?

    All very well replacing faulty heart valves etc., but with Alzheimer and other brain diseases, people get old anyway. Still, there is always the hope that quantum machines will be able to replace brains. Gotta go. My robot butler has just asked me what the meaning of life is.

    1. hoola Silver badge

      Re: What about the brain?

      Issues around degeneration of the brain are going to continue to get worse as other physical aliments are either cured (drugs) or mitigated (pacemakers, replacement valves etc).

      There is this endless quest to cure or control physical conditions that often end up with a longer life expectancy but a very poor quality of life. In the case of Alzheimer's and dementia this is also the rest of the family as they have to care for them unless the "shove them into a care home" option is taken. My Father-in-Law has been ga-ga with dementia now over 2 years, has all sorts of medication to keep him physically alive for heart and various other conditions that would normally have killed him years ago. None of this can be withdrawn so we just soldier on until he expires.

      My Father developed MND and he was very clear there was to be no intervention at any point. The family all supported his decision and he died about 9 months after diagnosis with no medical heroics, and on no medication. His life could have been extended with feeding tubes etc. but by 3 months after diagnosis he already had lost all most of his leg movement and by 6 months speech and most movement. Exactly why the medical profession believe that a feeding tube was a viable option is beyond me.

      Huge gains have been made in medicine and the associated technologies particularly around prosthetics that are highly beneficial, particularly to younger people. The ideal of preserving life at all costs regardless of outcome may be great for science and reputation but less so for the people actually concerned.

      Life is finite and there really does come a point where medical intervention is not the best course of action.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: What about the brain?

        There's another term for it- "Quality of life".

        There comes a time for everything, and letting go of this life for whatever comes next is one of those things.

        (Apologies for being a bit of a downer on this friday.)

      3. wdce

        Re: What about the brain?

        Iirc, Ben Elton reckoned that one would come to, and find oneself immobile, doubly incontinent, and all your friends were dead.

    2. FeepingCreature

      Re: What about the brain?

      There is no reason to expect brain replacement to require quantum physics. The standard rejoinder is that the brain is "warm, wet and noisy", all of which tends to break quantum relations rather quickly. There may be isolated parts of the brain that use quantum physics for chemical processes, but there is no evidence for the notion (and lots of evidence against) that the brain uses quantum physics for computation.

      As a result, it should be possible to replace the brain with a digital simulation. Computer capacity worldwide is starting to enter the ranges of power where such a thing begins to look feasible, depending on the complexity of simulation required. (Which should also not be too high, again due to the previous argument - "warm, wet and noisy" also limits the computational complexity that is being employed.) The first attempt will of course cost billions. Then millions. Then tens of thousands...

  14. wolfetone Silver badge

    I mean, fair play to the lad that he wants immortality.

    But it's obvious to me he's never watched Highlander. If he had, he'd know it's not what it's cracked up to be.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      But it's obvious to me he's never watched Highlander.

      He isn't old enough yet (age limit 12 I think).

      If he had, he'd know it's not what it's cracked up to be.

      That version of immortality at least isn't, with every other immortal out to kill you.

  15. TVC

    You're too late kid.

    You're too late kid I already started a few years ago and it's no fun:

    Right Knee is metal (now worn out)

    Left knee is metal

    Artificial heart valve (wearing out)

    Teeth implants and caps.

    Just look after what you have and make it last as long as you can.

    And BTW, IQ is no substitute for experience and common sense.

  16. Pantagoon

    When I was 11...

    ...I was playing with Lego.

    I'm 54 now and still playing with Lego.

    1. Def Silver badge

      Re: When I was 11...

      Keep going. You'll get there in the end. ;)

  17. Howard Sway

    completed the three-year course in only a year, topping his class

    Well yes, but he was competing against young adults with round the clock access to Belgian beer on tap and susceptibility to other "distractions".

    Once he hits puberty, the dream of "replacing body parts" will vanish and turn into "placing body parts", probably much to his dismay.

  18. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

    Do you want Cybermen?

    Because this is how you get Cybermen.

    Literally, it's the premise they were introduced with in The Tenth Planet, way back at the end of Hartnell's reign on Doctor Who.

    I'm only surprised it's taken this long for someone to decide it's actually a good idea...

    Although to be fair it'll end up only being rich people who get to do it anyway so it's probably nothing to worry about. Maybe.

    Icon because I'm not sure whether the kid's serious or just trolling.

  19. SealTeam6

    “You will become like us” 8-)

    Cyborgs won’t necessarily have to become evil, emotionless creatures like the Cybermen, though.

    1. graeme leggett

      JAMIE: A new race of Cybermen? But we're humans. We're not like you.

      CONTROLLER: You will be.

      1. TheMaskedMan

        Upvote for the Tomb reference!

    2. edris90

      The cybermen were not evil.

      The concept doesnt apply.

      They were amoral.

      Meaning morality is not a shared imagination or established culture of the cybermen society, therefore irrelevent and unapplicable to them. They are not subordinate to humanity.

  20. Plest Bronze badge

    Very sad but life's rich tapestry

    I think what's sad is that most genii end up in dull gov, medical or arms research projects, they're spit-hot and their talents are not wasted but sadly their lives become very dull. They toil away in obscurity, granted they change the world, but ultimately they never get the credit they deserve. I'm glad my kids are bright but not top of their class, hard working but know their limits.

    As a heavy metal fan I'm always reminded of the Metallica song "Dyer's Eve", a tragic song about a kid with overbearing parents, now they're gone and he's alone as an adult, scared and can't handle life's pressures 'cos his parents never prepared him for how harsh adult life is. The song is his final message of hatred to his overbearing parents for throwing him to wolves, just before he commits suicide.

    1. J. Cook Silver badge

      Re: Very sad but life's rich tapestry

      IIRC, it's also one of the songs that Mettallica doesn't normally play live.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was one of those kid prodigies. I am happily married, lots of friends who just think I'm extraordinarily good at comebacks and games like Trivial Pursuit, lead a nice anonymous life, and I am happy. Was that a talent wasted or fulfilled?

    1. edris90

      All value Resolves to personal psychological States of sustained satisfaction.

      Once basic needs have been attained and are percieved to be stable, ambition represents a chronic mental dysfuntion. busy idioting that creates a self sustaining feedback loop of always being as infintly far from completion as if you never started, a grindimg race to wear your self to nothing while never relatively any closer to sastifaction.

  22. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    I'm sure the Grigari will be happy to drop in and say hi...

  23. Bongwater

    All Praise

    The Omnisiah!!

    The Flesh is weak!

    Iron Within.....

    Ok I'll stop.

  24. jonathan keith Silver badge

    This is why highly educational documentaries such as The Terminator, Demon Seed and Westworld need 'U' ratings from the BBFC, instead of the ridiculous '15' certificates they currently have.

  25. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Congratulation on the B.Sc. Now, what happens next is going to be like various engineering businesses that heard last year that we suddenly needed an awful lot of hospital patient oxygen ventilator machines, and they said okay we will make some of those, and then mainly they found out that it's really difficult to do it. Like, if a machine is keeping somebody alive, then that machine really must never go wrong.

    So James Dyson extorted a dubious deal from the government of Britain in return for providing ventilators, which the Prime Minister still says is fair... but as far as I know, Mr Dyson never did make any ventilators?

  26. BOFH in Training

    Always a question of upgradability

    Over the years, the interfaces / connections / capabilities we use with computing devices change.

    Although I am in favour of becoming a cyborg (ghost in the shell beckons), I will always be concerned if there will always be new versions of whatever we plug into our body. And if new brain / nerve to machine interface is created, can you actually upgrade your interface safely? Or for that matter, the implants, can they be upgraded?

    Or will you forever be version 1 capable while the newer cyborgs have 10 times the capabilities you can have? And 5 years after that, newer cyborgs will have 100 times the capabilities, etc?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Always a question of upgradability

      A sci-fi story had a plot where students learned skills by a simple once-off information transfer. The problem was that they hadn't the ability to learn anything new afterwards. They were unemployable once the skill-set required updating.

      Some kids were assessed as "deficient" and couldn't have the transfer. They were sent to residential schools where they were taught the old-fashioned slow way.

      The twist was that these were the people who had the mental ability to design the new things that invalidated the old skill-sets.

      I once worked in a country which had two school systems with cultural and language differentiators. One produced fantastic exam results - the other not so good. However - the graduates from the first system could only answer specific questions for which they had been taught verbatim answers. The graduates from the other system could think about how to solve new problems.

  27. Jason Hindle Silver badge

    We need progressive nanotech replacement

    Once you have that, especially in the brain, the whole problem with transference of consciousness goes away. You literally become someone/something else without realising that is what is happening. This gets us around the problem of knowledge transference that Frank Herbert identified: the capacity to carry out big projects that last hundreds of years. Of course, modern IT partly solves that with the modern, office Wiki :-).

  28. cincyreds62

    this kid is book smart only. the concept of immortality is beyond laughable. when he grows up he'll hopefully realize what an ill conceived idea this was.

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