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Dean Pomerleau

Cryonics Anyone?

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Yet more good news, presented clearly, from the Economist:

 

Organ preservation
Wait not in vain

After decades of piecemeal progress, the science of cryogenically storing human organs is warming up

 

There are a number of new findings and research efforts in the above Economist article that I'd never heard of. We are really getting close!

 

Zeta

Edited by Zeta

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Zeta,

 

There are a number of new findings and research efforts in the above Economist article that I'd never heard of. We are really getting close!

 

Cool article Zeta, but close to what exactly? This research seems to be focused on cryopreserving organs like hearts, livers and kidneys harvested from people (mostly dead victims of accidents or violence, or perhaps donated by the living) so that they can be transplanted to sick people who need them, but who aren't ready to receive them when they become available. This would definitely help avoid the organs going to waste, and prevent the people who (later) need them from dying. I'm all for improving that matching process, by making it less sensitive to the issue of timing.

 

But exactly how does this connect up with extending human lifespan through cryonics?

 

Are you suggesting that this research puts us "close" to non-destructive (near-)freezing of whole sick/old people, so they can be revived some years later when a cure for their illness/aging is discovered? From what I can see the researchers are focused on how to keep relatively simple organs (compared with the brain) viable for days or weeks.That would be great, but given the intricacies and importance of the fine structure of the brain (i.e. the morphology of synapses, etc.), it seems unlikely to me that the techniques being developed to preserve organs so they don't suffer from ice crystallization are going to generalize to preserving the brain without damage and at the level of detail necessary, at least for any significant period of time (i.e. years rather than days or weeks) without degradation. It seems to me that the required level of accurate preservation of brain structure will only be possible (if at all) via some sort of (unfortunately destructive) vitrification, as discussed earlier in this thread.

 

I can also imagine this research leading to a larger pool of human-harvested organs available to prop up oldsters whose organs are failing - a rather stopgap approach to life extension if you ask me, and one on which many dystopian science fiction stories have been based, starting with the first sci-fi story, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.  It seems much more likely that the need for organs to replace failing ones will come from tissue engineering - i.e. growing fresh organs in the lab from the patient's own stem cells rather than harvesting them from other people.

 

Or are you thinking of some other way of employing this technology that will benefit lifespan? 

 

--Dean

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Are you suggesting that this research puts us "close" to non-destructive (near-)freezing of whole sick/old people, so they can be revived some years later when a cure for their illness/aging is discovered? 

 

Yes.

 

From what I can see the researchers are focused on how to keep relatively simple organs (compared with the brain) viable for days or weeks.That would be great, but given the intricacies and importance of the fine structure of the brain (i.e. the morphology of synapses, etc.), it seems unlikely to me that the techniques being developed to preserve organs so they don't suffer from ice crystallization are going to generalize to preserving the brain without damage and at the level of detail necessary, at least for any significant period of time (i.e. years rather than days or weeks) without degradation.

 

Oh, I disagree (well, not with "are going to generalize" -- that's why I say we're "close", not "there"). I see evidence of breakthroughs in anti-freeze options, and a brilliant idea for solving the rewarming problem with magnetite.

 

A frog has a brain much less complex than mine, sure, but not fundamentally different in its micro (and nano) structure. If a frog can be frozen and thawed "multiple times" "with no evident ill effects", then the relevant information-carrying components of its brain are obviously surviving, and I expect mine would too, if what those frogs do naturally can be done artificially with me.

 

Good enough for a 300-year freeze? I don't know. But if it were perfected to the point of being as good as what we see in the frogs, I'd be willing to risk being put under now, for a much shorter span than 300 years (whatever is deemed safe -- a few years; might even be worth it for a few months) then revived to see family and friends, see what sort of progress has been made in solving my numerous ailments (including aging), then decide about being frozen (with, presumably, better technology) for another cycle of letting the world progress.

 

Zeta

 

Edited by Zeta

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Zeta (my emphasis): 

 

But if it were perfected to the point of being as good as what we see in the frogs, I'd be willing to risk being put under now, for a much shorter span than 300 years (whatever is deemed safe -- a few years; might even be worth it for a few months) then revived to see family and friends, see what sort of progress has been made in solving my numerous ailments (including aging), then decide about being frozen (with, presumably, better technology) for another cycle of letting the world progress.

 

Are you serious? Are you really in such rough shape that you'd one of the first in line to subject yourself to a novel and relatively unproven (since results from decades-long clinical trials will not happen before we're long gone...) cryostasis procedure and go into this sort of Rip Van Winkle mode of existence, waking up every few years (if you're lucky), to see what's going on?

 

Just how desperate and close to death are you!? Personally that seems like a mighty risky & miserable way to live, and not a very good gamble, unless you're on death's door...

 

--Dean

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Just how desperate and close to death are you!? Personally that seems like a mighty risky & miserable way to live, and not a very good gamble, unless you're on death's door...

 

Not close to death, pretty sure, but desperate enough, yes, to consider seriously precisely the option I outlined. I'd try to get my parents to join me, though!

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Sorry to hear that Zeta. I still don't understand what blood test or symptoms are most troubling you, despite your descriptions on the extreme blood values thread. My offer still stands to chat off-forum (via Skype or Google hangouts) if my experiences with weird blood markers and anemia might help you get to the bottom of it.

 

--Dean

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I've only described a fairly small fraction of my health problems. (I have 5 doc. appointments in the coming two weeks, all but two about what appear to be separate problems -- though, of course, everything is connected.) And I would love to talk with you (mostly for other reasons). I keep finding, though, when I'm not too exhausted to talk to anyone, I discover I'm behind in work.... But I should be caught up soon.

 

Actually, I think being frozen until big data approaches to health/AI are just a wee bit better might be enough. I'm just spinning my wheels with my health problems right now, and not getting much done on things that matter to me. I don't want to live like this.

 

A system that could (1) enter (huge problem, though, of course, the old-fashioned solution exists here: manual data entry), (2) understand (huge problem, partly solved), and (3) make sound recommendations on the basis of (huge problem, partly solved now) my health data, would make me happy. I could wake up for that and not feel I need to be refrozen for more developments. And the foregoing might only take 5-10 years. I don't want to miss out on too much of my friends' (esp. older friends', and parents') lives!

 

Zeta

Edited by Zeta

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Thanks Zeta - that is great news!

 

Here is the official press release from the Brain Preservation Foundation. I like this quote by BPF President Dr. Kenneth Hayworth (when looking at scanned slices from the vitrified rabbit brain):

 

​Every neuron and synapse looks beautifully preserved across the entire brain. Simply amazing given that I held in my hand this very same brain when it was vitrified glassy solid… This is not your father’s cryonics.” – Dr. Kenneth Hayworth, BPF President

 

Of course there is still the technical hurdles of doing this will a large mammal, then humans, scanning the data slice-by-slice, reconstructing it as a computer model and running a computer simulation of it. Not to mention the philosophical hurdle of whether or not the simulation is conscious and subjectively equivalent to the animal/person who was preserved!

 

But if this technique for preservation could be scaled to the human brain, I'd be quick to sign up to have my brain vitrified when I die. They may never work out those additional hurdles required to bring me back, but at least it is chance at (near) immortality that one can rationally embrace and that doesn't require scientists to solve the mystery of human aging within the next several decades. It would be cool to see the distant future, even if it might be pretty disorienting, as the video we discussed earlier illustrates.

 

--Dean

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...There are several aspects of it I'd like to talk to folks about, but I'll wait a couple days to bring them up until others have had a chance to watch it, to avoid spoiling the film for you.

 

http://vimeo.com/144333900

 

Let us know what you think.

 

--Dean

Thanks, Dean. I'd missed this, and agree it's thought provoking and good. What aspects about it did you want to discuss?

 

I found it sad, I think. Maybe this is what we all think we want -- a life as a young person, free, ageless, evidently without the burdens of work, money, crime, injustice (maybe I'm reading too much into it...) and yet still, with all of this, still we yearn.

 

For what do we yearn?

 

And I have to say I agree with Zeta here. If I could freeze my body and mind into a 300-year hibernation, I'd do it right now, this very moment, and hopefully awake to a better world.

 

Yet here in "New" we see that "better world" and still there is the yearning.

Edited by Sthira

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Sthira,

 

I think nearly everyone practicing CR does it in part so they can see more of the future. But this short film made me think about just how disorienting and difficult it might be to actually wake up in the distant future. I expressed it in this post, when I said:

 

I was particularly struck by the final scene, where the (former) couple unexpectedly bump into each other in a bar overlooking the rings of Saturn. They stumble to explain to each other what each is doing there, and the man says, in reference to Saturn and its rings which are now a popular tourist attraction, "[it's] something you gotta see before you die. I can't stop looking at it. You were right."  The "You were right" refers to an earlier point in the film when the woman had suggested to the man that they go on a trip to Saturn to help him get out of the funk he was experiencing trying to integrate into the strange new society in which they find themselves.
 

Saying "[it's] something you gotta see before you die." is obviously ironic, given that they've both already died once, and the lives they are leading now are in some sense a 'second act'. But contrary to what they were perhaps expecting when they signed up for cryonics, its no easier (and perhaps quite a bit harder) to find meaning and purpose in a second life than it was in the first.

 

At the very end, we see the man, alone, sipping his glowing "bell pepper lumi" beverage and staring out at Saturn's rings, and we wonder, as he seems to be, what is the point of it all.

 

It reminds me of Saul's rather pessimistic perspective expressed on another thread, which he summarized with the Shakespeare quote:

"[Life] is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

 

It always boils down to how we can find meaning in life. On that topic, I'm in the midst of two philosophy books - The Affirmation of Life - Nietszsche on Overcoming Nihilism and The Specter of the Absurd: Sources and Criticisms of Modern NihilismSthira, I'll let you know if I learn anything useful from them. :-).

 

--Dean

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NATURE | FUTURES

  •  
Musings on time travel Nature   530,   124   (04 February 2016)   doi:10.1038/530124a Published online   03 February 2016

An investment for the future.

530124a-i1.jpg

Illustration by Jacey

I used to be like him. I was an ignorant, prelucid beast, physically swift but weak in time. Forty years of my life was spent and lost, nothing gained but four exceptionally dull decades. But change became possible and I made the change. I found my ground and transformed my nature, becoming a statue of superchilled glass eagerly racing across the centuries.

The valley stretches before me, green and then black. Green and black.

Up the valley the beast approaches, and reaching me, he stops moving and slows his nature. I don't know how he slows himself. A temporary trick invented in recent years, presumably.

“Letmeintroducemyself,” he roars.

“Slower,” I say. “Quieter.”

My mind speaks, my hardware lending sounds to the thoughts.

“Sorry,” he says.

“Is this better?” he asks.

If I wanted conversation, it would be an improvement. But my hardware says nothing. There's no point being rude, it decides.

Not yet, at least.

Green and black. Green and black. And the beast offers his name, adding, “I respect what you're doing. You are a pioneer.”

Pioneers are dead people lost to history. But I am very much not-dead.

“A brave, bold strategy,” he says.

I assume that he learned my archaic dialect while preparing for this important, uncomfortable conversation. Every word feels careful. Thought out but always delivered with a self-conscious uneasy.

“You are practically a legend,” he says.

“Practically a legend.” That's what people tell you when they're close to forgetting you.

“And I've come here to offer you a service,” he says.

Oh shit. A salesman.

I say nothing and the green valley turns black. Night comes and stars wheel, and he says, “Two hundred and fifty-three years crossed so far.”

I can measure time as well as he can.

“And you aren't ten days older,” he says.

No, I'm three centuries old. I just don't show it.

He smiles and says: “Like you, I think about time travel.”

Here we go. The salesman's pitch.

“We're all time travellers,” he says. “You're just a lot better at it than me.”

Very true.

Then he says, “Sir, do you know why time travel was invented, Sir?”

My hardware could ask him to leave. My AI lawyers, the best in the Solar System, could slap muscular injunctions on him. And to that end, I begin to string together the appropriate commands.

Except then he says: “Consider the first life, the simplest, tiniest cell.”

Okay.

“Think what it had to do to survive,” he says.

The Sun rises. A cloudy day, with rain rushing in from the ocean on my horizon.

“To survive,” he says, “life had to find a complex form. And that form, the good body, had to eat. Grab energy and reproduce. But how does life get enough food? Unless you're a plant, there was never enough nourishment in one physical location. That's why animals grew legs. To graze, to hunt. But of course even a plant has to move. The algae on a rock. There isn't enough sunlight in one nanosecond to feed a little chloroplast. To thrive, the microbe has to journey through time. Which is my point: time travel was invented by our oldest ancestors. Because where life is possible, even if it is only rooted in one spectacular patch of ground, the ignorant entity still has to cross the days and seasons, just on the hope of enduring.”

A salesman, yes. But interesting nonetheless.

“Interesting,” is the word I offer.

He agrees with my praise, adding: “But what if?”

I bite. “What if what?”

“If the great goals of life could be accomplished outside time. For instance, what if there was a scenario in which the entirety of your life could play out inside one cold nanosecond?”

“No,” I say.

More than once.

“But you shouldn't dismiss me,” he says, standing in a sudden rainstorm. “Not if the end result is a vast improvement over your present life. Which is what you did before, isn't it? You didn't enjoy your old life, sluggish and limited. So you remade yourself, accomplishing what few others would even dare attempt.”

He knows his market, that's for certain.

Rain finishes with a red Sun plunging into the sea, and the world spins us through space, and I ask: “Why would I want such a life?”

“Because inside that instant, every thought will be possible. Every daydream, every creative urge. Every every everything will be laced into a single eruption of genius. And as I have been assured, that perfection won't last for an instant. Not to the person enjoying it, no. To those special few pioneers, it will seem like a euphoric blaze lasting ten billion years.”

I'm not ignorant. My hardware keeps me up to date with human events and the march of technology.

This is news to me.

“Is this even remotely possible?” I ask.

The Sun rises behind me, and squinting into the blaze, he admits: “Not yet, no. The basic research has only just commenced. And even if it were possible, the projected costs would be in excess of what your trust funds could afford.”

All becomes clear.

“But it will become possible,” he says. “And your investments will eventually make you wealthy enough.”

This is a salesman with a very long view.

“Give the idea time,” he suggests.

“I will,” I promise.

And with that, my new friend walks back down the valley, his long shadow growing short before he vanishes into my thoughts.

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"...Because inside that instant, every thought will be possible. Every daydream, every creative urge. Every every everything will be laced into a single eruption of genius. And as I have been assured, that perfection won't last for an instant. Not to the person enjoying it, no. To those special few pioneers, it will seem like a euphoric blaze lasting ten billion years.”

 

Awesome, Al! Thank you. By the way, since few people post here maybe they'll be no sqwaking about OFF TOPIC shiz, and you can guide me into some good stuff longevity science fiction works you love? I'm illiterate wrt scifilit :-( Edited by Sthira

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This probably won't spin out so well because I ain't such a great writer, but here goes anyway.

 

It always boils down to how we can find meaning in life.

I went to Marti Gras in New Orleans when I was like 19, and had an appendicitis attack. The appendix ruptured, actually, and so onto a night dirty sidewalk I collapsed.

 

Friends figured I was just drunk, oh hurricanes, and so they left me there for awhile. Later, I died in the hospital.

 

The "moment" of that will sound like dumbshit hyperbole, but who cares. Death for me felt like being flat, wide, and everywhere suddenly all at once -- an expansive sensation of being "forever."

 

I know: sounds stupid: science shall explain away NDEs: subjective language makes no sense. LSD and shrooms can get me sorta close to that again -- but no, not really -- it was the all of everything all at once. Now, later, life continues to freak me out, but not death.

 

And so for me -- what is the meaning of life -- just isn't found in life. But curious, I keep living anyway, and it's a conscious choice to keep living this shitty life. We can each end life any time we feel like it. God knows I'm not attempting to be profound or wise here, who cares, but: I'm torn between wanting to live forever, and not wanting anything more at all to do with life as any creature lives it.

 

Makes no sense, but there you have it.

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Sthira,

 

I'm torn between wanting to live forever, and not wanting anything more at all to do with life as any creature lives it. Makes no sense, but there you have it. 

 

Makes a lot of sense to me.

 

Have you ever read (about) Schopenhauer? He seems like your kind of guy. His concept of the Will, the inexorable and undeniable drive of all things to survive and grow, despite all the suffering that results, and importantly how to deal with it (his prescription boils down to aestheticism and/or asceticism), seems like a perspective you might resonate with.

 

Here is a good short (15min) introduction to Schopenhauer's philosophy in case you aren't familiar with it:

 

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Sthira,

 

I'm torn between wanting to live forever, and not wanting anything more at all to do with life as any creature lives it. Makes no sense, but there you have it. 

 

 

Here is a good short (15min) introduction to Schopenhauer's philosophy in case you aren't familiar with it:

 

The BBC's 1987 well-done series "The Great Philosophers" devoted an episode to AS:

...and they've been on YT since 2008.

Also the full text of the series book and BBC video is here.

Important to satisfying philosophical thinking, IMO, is having plenty of distraction-free time (why Heidegger went into seclusion in his Black Forest cabin) ...and a sharp/focused (yet open) mind (CR can help with that if you're willing to put up with the "social" ramifications).

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Awesome, Al! Thank you. By the way, since few people post here maybe they'll be no sqwaking about OFF TOPIC shiz, and you can guide me into some good stuff longevity science fiction works you love? I'm illiterate wrt scifilit :-(

 

Quick note: there is no off-topic on the Chitchat list:

 
Chitchat

Anything goes: birdwatching, music, etc. Imagine you're at dinner after a CR conference: Let's get to know one another! (Anything goes: CR isn't excluded.)

 

Although I suppose there's off-topic for a particular thread, which might be what you mean. It's easy to start a new thread, though!

 

- Brian

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Sthira,

 

I'm torn between wanting to live forever, and not wanting anything more at all to do with life as any creature lives it. Makes no sense, but there you have it.

Makes a lot of sense to me.

 

Have you ever read (about) Schopenhauer? He seems like your kind of guy. His concept of the Will, the inexorable and undeniable drive of all things to survive and grow, despite all the suffering that results, and importantly how to deal with it (his prescription boils down to aestheticism and/or asceticism), seems like a perspective you might resonate with.

 

Here is a good short (15min) introduction to Schopenhauer's philosophy in case you aren't familiar with it:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypOtX1kEo8U

Thank you, yes, yes. I wasn't too familiar with Schopenhauer, but those words feel like paths. I'm down them. Or fool myself into thinking so. Yet mysticism feels so commercialized and pat. What is ascetic mysticism?

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Dean, yes, I'm not an extreme early-riser these days, but I will be when I'm back in the US, mostly in order to go on (serious) bird-watching trips (which, when serious, begin at sunrise).

 

By the way, by amazing coincidence, I read Reginster's book just a couple months ago. (You may know that I'm slowly, but, I think, surely, finishing a dissertation on Nietzsche.) Pretty useful book, though I imagine it might not be easy-going unless one already has read a lot of Nietzsche.

 

- Brian

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Brian,

 

I had no idea you are a Nietzsche scholar - how cool is that! I'm by no means an expert, but I've been reading quite a bit lately.

 

Perhaps because I can understand him, I really like Ken Gemes' analysis on Nietzsche's ideas on Truth, free will, and the misappropriation of Nietzsche by post-modernists. I'm also in the middle of the book Reading the New Nietzsche by David Allison and I've put together a Youtube playlist will all the best Nietzsche video's I've found. Finally, I'm about to start listening to a 24-lecture series from The Great Courses by Prof. Robert Solomon on Will to Power: The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, which I've borrowed from my local library. You might say I've got Nietzsche on the brain at the moment :-). Perhaps at the conference we can sit down and I can ask you some questions as a Nietzsche scholar & expert.

 

I'd especially like to hear your perspective (here or at the conference) on what Nietzsche would have thought about CR, life extension and (trying to keep it on topic...) cryonics. He clearly railed against the "ascetic ideal" of squelching one's drives in service of an imaginary world-to-come. From his valorization of dionysian revelry and living life with passion in "The Birth of Tragedy", I can't imagine he'd be too enthusiastic about counting calories :-).  But at the same time he was somewhat of an ascetic himself, and exhorted those readers who were up to the challenge to exercise self-mastery and express their will-to-power in unique, "self overcoming" ways. That sort of description would appear to fit many CR practitioners to a tee. So maybe it he would have been conflicted about what to think of us, and would say it is up to the individual to determine whether their CR practice empowers them to "be who they are" in this world, or to hunker down and meekly wait for a brighter (and longer) future.

 

For anyone not familiar with Nietzsche, but interested in learning more, below is one of my favorite lectures on him, by Ken Gemes titled "Nietzsche on the Value of Truth". It really made me reconsider my rationalists attitude of "Truth at any price". Sometimes the Truth isn't all it's cracked up to be, and can undermine one's ability to live life with passionate engagement. Truth is simply another hammer we sometimes use to beat others into submission so as to conform to our will. :-)

 

--Dean

 

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Sthira,

 

Yet mysticism feels so commercialized and pat. What is ascetic mysticism? 

 

I think what Schopenhauer is getting at when he advocates ascetic mysticism is perhaps the path of self-mortification that Siddhartha Gautama pursued before his enlightenment, including some pretty extreme CR (see below)  :-).

 

But perhaps a better model of what Schopenhauer has in mind would be Ramana Maharshi, who didn't try to beat his passions into submission as the Buddha did, but instead simply relinquished them as childish fetters once he attained enlightenment. But I wouldn't recommend going quite as far as Ramana wrt physical indifference, allowing insects and vermin to chew on his legs while meditating in his cave on Arunachala. :-)

 

--Dean

 

Skinny-Buddha871.jpg

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Here is quote from Aubrey de Grey from this article commenting on the brain preservation prize breakthrough we were discussing (in this post above) before we got a bit sidetracked with philosophy - a fun discussion I don't regret a bit!

 

Aubrey says something similar to what I said above and on the CR Facebook page, that the procedure this team has developed does irreparable harm to the brain in the process of preserving it, so there is no way it is ever going to be revived. But a brain so preserved could someday serve as a good source of the necessary data for mind uploading, or as Aubrey suggests - a bioprinted brain & body:

 

"What they did was something that does not allow the brain to be warmed up again and have it work, but it does preserve the structure better than we currently can if we want to warm it up and have it work again."

 

“The resuscitation of someone who has been cryopreserved may or may not, eventually in the future, be done by warming them up,” he said.

 
“Eventually people are looking at the possibility of reviving people from cryopreservation by scanning their brain and essentially rebuilding a new brain out of different atoms than the original ones, which has so precisely the same structure that it behaves in the same way, it is for practical purposes the same person. “
 
The brain scan would effectively create a very complex 3D digital model, which would be made into a replacement brain using an advanced version of the 3D bioprinters being developed today, and presumably be installed into a suitable replacement body. It’s a fascinating, albeit slightly creepy, notion that prompts a lot of questions.
 
“Of course there are loads of philosophical issues around whether that person really is the same person, and whether this really achieves the goals of cryonics, but some people think it does,” said de Grey.

 

--Dean

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The small mammal brain preservation prize continues to receive a lot of attention. Here are two perspectives for those (like me) who are fascinated by the topic.

 

Ken Hayworth, director of the Brain Preservation Foundation (BPF) that oversaw and awarded the prize, has a commentary on what it means, in which he's pretty critical of existing human cryonics companies (read 'Alcor') for not stepping up to the plate and providing evidence of how well (or how badly) their procedure does at preserving brain structure. Here is the interesting section of Hayworth's (personal - not on behalf of BPF) statement on the topic (my emphasis):

 

[M]any people have recently asked me “Should cryonics service organizations immediately start offering this new ASC procedure to their ‘patients’?” My personal answer (speaking for myself, not on behalf of the BPF) has been a steadfast NO.
 
It should be remembered that these same cryonics service organizations have been offering a different procedure for years. A procedure that was not able to demonstrate, to even my minimal expectations, preservation of the brain’s neural circuitry. This result, I must say, surprised and disappointed me personally, leading me to give up my membership in one such organization and to become extremely skeptical of all since. Again, I stress, current cryonics procedures were NOT able to meet our challenge EVEN UNDER IDEAL LABORATORY CONDITIONS despite being offered to paying customers for years[1]. Should we really expect that these same organizations can now be trusted to further develop and properly implement such a new, independently-invented technique for use under non-ideal conditions?
 
Not to take the criticism lying down, Max More, President of Alcor, made this statement on behalf of Alcor. Here are some interesting excerpts (my emphasis):
 
While ASC produces clearer images than current methods of vitrification without fixation, it does so at the expense of being toxic to the biological machinery of life by wreaking havoc on a molecular scale. Chemical fixation results in chemical changes (the same as embalming) that are extreme and difficult to evaluate in the absence of at least residual viability. Certainly, fixation is likely to be much harder to reverse so as to restore biological viability as compared to vitrification without fixation.... Another reason for lack of interest in pursuing this approach is that it is a research dead end on the road to developing reversible tissue preservation in the nearer future...
 
For cryonics under ideal conditions [a direct reference to part of Hayworth's statement], the damage that still requires future repair is now more subtle than freezing damage. That damage is believed to be chiefly cryoprotectant toxicity and associated tissue dehydration. It’s time for cryonics debate to move past ill-informed beliefs of “cells bursting.”

 

So Hayworth is saying "Alcor's procedure pretty much turns the brain to mush", while More contents "no it doesn't, and the fixation procedure that won the prize isn't what Alcor is after, because it's not reversible, at least not anytime soon, and may never be."

 

It seems to me (and to the folks at Fightaging.com in their commentary on the dispute) to come down to a philosophical difference of opinion about whether a uploaded mind simulated on a computer, or even an new biological brain engineered from scratch with the exact same wiring as your own, will be conscious and be you, as people like Hayworth (and me!) believe. Or alternatively, if it needs to be your original brain revived from a state of cryogenic stasis for your identify to be preserved.

 

What's really amazing is the fact that what has been a purely philosophical debate for several thousand years is starting to have very real and practical consequences, i.e. where funding goes for cryonics R&D. Robert McIntyre, the developer of the technique that won the prize, as started a company called Nectome to explore its commercial application, which will perhaps someday include human brain preservation. You can sign up at Nectome's website to be on their mailing list, as I did.

 

--Dean

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All,

 

I came across this really good article in the latest issue of Alcor's Cryonics magazine. It is about what it takes to be a cryonics enthusiast, or conversely, what being a cryonics enthusiast says about you. It talks about how even very rational and optimistic people who might otherwise be inclined favorably towards cryonics may nevertheless avoid signing up because of fear of disorientation upon waking up alone in a strange future. I thought the recommendations at the end for making cryonics more appealing to people were right on the money:

 

t might serve a cryonics organization well to transition from an organization that just “stores” a human body or brain without specific resuscitation and reintegration scenarios to an organization that offers more comprehensive means of identity preservation. Such an organization puts a strong emphasis on the cryopreservation of families and friends. It will offer means of asset preservation and personal belongings. It develops specific resuscitation protocols which are updated and calibrated as our knowledge and technologies improve. And it makes serious efforts to provide a reintegration program which seeks to minimize adjustment to the time in which an individual is resuscitated.

 

--Dean

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