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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Cryonics
Posted: June 1, 2020 at 3:23 am
For the study of the production of very low temperatures, see Cryogenics. For the low-temperature preservation of living tissue and organisms in general, see Cryopreservation. For the Hot Cross album, see Cryonics (album).
Freezing of a human corpse
Cryonics (from Greek: kryos meaning 'cold') is the low-temperature freezing (usually at 196C or 320.8F or 77.1K) and storage of a human corpse or severed head, with the speculative hope that resurrection may be possible in the future. Cryonics is regarded with skepticism within the mainstream scientific community. It is generally viewed as a pseudoscience, and its practice has been characterized as quackery.
Cryonics procedures can begin only after clinical death, and cryonics "patients" are legally dead. Cryonics procedures may begin within minutes of death, and use cryoprotectants to prevent ice formation during cryopreservation. It is, however, not possible for a corpse to be reanimated after undergoing vitrification, as this causes damage to the brain including its neural networks. The first corpse to be frozen was that of Dr. James Bedford in 1967. As of 2014, about 250 dead bodies had been cryopreserved in the United States, and 1,500 people had made arrangements for cryopreservation of their corpses.
Economic reality means it is highly improbable that any cryonics corporation could continue in business long enough to take advantage of the claimed long-term benefits offered. Early attempts of cryonic preservations were performed in the 1960s and early 1970s which ended in failure with companies going out of business, and their stored corpses thawed and disposed of.
Cryonicists argue that as long as brain structure remains intact, there is no fundamental barrier, given our current understanding of physical law, to recovering its information content. Cryonics proponents go further than the mainstream consensus in saying that the brain does not have to be continuously active to survive or retain memory. Cryonics controversially states that a human survives even within an inactive brain that has been badly damaged, provided that original encoding of memory and personality can, in theory, be adequately inferred and reconstituted from what structure remains.
Cryonics uses temperatures below 130C, called cryopreservation, in an attempt to preserve enough brain information to permit future revival of the cryopreserved person. Cryopreservation may be accomplished by freezing, freezing with cryoprotectant to reduce ice damage, or by vitrification to avoid ice damage. Even using the best methods, cryopreservation of whole bodies or brains is very damaging and irreversible with current technology.
Cryonics advocates hold that in the future the use of some kind of presently-nonexistent nanotechnology may be able to help bring the dead back to life and treat the diseases which killed them. Mind uploading has also been proposed.
Cryonics can be expensive. As of 2018[update] the cost of preparing and storing corpses using cryonics ranged from US$28,000 to $200,000.
When used at high concentrations, cryoprotectants can stop ice formation completely. Cooling and solidification without crystal formation is called vitrification. The first cryoprotectant solutions able to vitrify at very slow cooling rates while still being compatible with whole organ survival were developed in the late 1990s by cryobiologists Gregory Fahy and Brian Wowk for the purpose of banking transplantable organs. This has allowed animal brains to be vitrified, warmed back up, and examined for ice damage using light and electron microscopy. No ice crystal damage was found; cellular damage was due to dehydration and toxicity of the cryoprotectant solutions.
Costs can include payment for medical personnel to be on call for death, vitrification, transportation in dry ice to a preservation facility, and payment into a trust fund intended to cover indefinite storage in liquid nitrogen and future revival costs. As of 2011, U.S. cryopreservation costs can range from $28,000 to $200,000, and are often financed via life insurance. KrioRus, which stores bodies communally in large dewars, charges $12,000 to $36,000 for the procedure. Some customers opt to have only their brain cryopreserved ("neuropreservation"), rather than their whole body.
As of 2014, about 250 corpses have been cryogenically preserved in the U.S., and around 1,500 people have signed up to have their remains preserved. As of 2016, four facilities exist in the world to retain cryopreserved bodies: three in the U.S. and one in Russia.
Taking into account the lifecycle of corporations, it is extremely unlikely that any cryonics company could continue to exist for sufficient time to take advantage even of the supposed benefits offered: historically, even the most robust corporations have only a one-in-a-thousand chance of surviving even one hundred years. Many cryonics companies have failed: as of 2018[update] all but one of the pre-1973 batch had gone out of business, and their stored corpses have been defrosted and disposed of.
Without cryoprotectants, cell shrinkage and high salt concentrations during freezing usually prevent frozen cells from functioning again after thawing. Ice crystals can also disrupt connections between cells that are necessary for organs to function. The difficulties of recovering large animals and their individual organs from a frozen state have been long known. Attempts to recover frozen mammals by simply rewarming them were abandoned by 1957. At humanity's present level of scientific knowledge, only cells, tissues, and some small organs can be reversibly cryopreserved.
Large vitrified organs tend to develop fractures during cooling, a problem worsened by the large tissue masses and very low temperatures of cryonics.
Actual cryonics organizations use vitrification without a chemical fixation step, sacrificing some structural preservation quality for less damage at the molecular level. Some scientists, like Joao Pedro Magalhaes, have questioned whether using a deadly chemical for fixation eliminates the possibility of biological revival, making chemical fixation unsuitable for cryonics.
In 2016, Robert L. McIntyre and Gregory Fahy at the cryobiology research company 21st Century Medicine, Inc. won the Small Animal Brain Preservation Prize of the Brain Preservation Foundation by demonstrating to the satisfaction of neuroscientist judges that a particular implementation of fixation and vitrification called aldehyde-stabilized cryopreservation could preserve a rabbit brain in "near perfect" condition at 135C, with the cell membranes, synapses, and intracellular structures intact in electron micrographs. Brain Preservation Foundation President, Ken Hayworth, said, "This result directly answers a main skeptical and scientific criticism against cryonicsthat it does not provably preserve the delicate synaptic circuitry of the brain. However the price paid for perfect preservation as seen by microscopy was tying up all protein molecules with chemical crosslinks, completely eliminating biological viability.
Outside the cryonics community, many scientists have strong skepticism toward cryonics methods. Cryobiologist Dayong Gao states that "we simply don't know if (subjects have) been damaged to the point where they've 'died' during vitrification because the subjects are now inside liquid nitrogen canisters." Biochemist Ken Storey argues (based on experience with organ transplants), that "even if you only wanted to preserve the brain, it has dozens of different areas, which would need to be cryopreserved using different protocols."
Revival would require repairing damage from lack of oxygen, cryoprotectant toxicity, thermal stress (fracturing), freezing in tissues that do not successfully vitrify, finally followed by reversing the cause of death. In many cases extensive tissue regeneration would be necessary.
Historically, a person had little control regarding how their body was treated after death as religion held jurisdiction over the ultimate fate of their body. However, secular courts began to exercise jurisdiction over the body and use discretion in carrying out of the wishes of the deceased person. Most countries legally treat preserved individuals as deceased persons because of laws that forbid vitrifying someone who is medically alive. In France, cryonics is not considered a legal mode of body disposal; only burial, cremation, and formal donation to science are allowed. However, bodies may legally be shipped to other countries for cryonic freezing. As of 2015, the Canadian province of British Columbia prohibits the sale of arrangements for body preservation based on cryonics. In Russia, cryonics falls outside both the medical industry and the funeral services industry, making it easier in Russia than in the U.S. to get hospitals and morgues to release cryonics candidates.
In London in 2016, the English High Court ruled in favor of a mother's right to seek cryopreservation of her terminally ill 14-year-old daughter, as the girl wanted, contrary to the father's wishes. The decision was made on the basis that the case represented a conventional dispute over the disposal of the girl's body, although the judge urged ministers to seek "proper regulation" for the future of cryonic preservation following concerns raised by the hospital about the competence and professionalism of the team that conducted the preservation procedures. In Alcor Life Extension Foundation v. Richardson, the Iowa Court of Appeals ordered for the disinterment of Richardson, who was buried against his wishes for cryopreservation.
A detailed legal examination by Jochen Taupitz concludes that cryonic storage is legal in Germany for an indefinite period of time.
In 2009, writing in Bioethics, David Shaw examines the ethical status of cryonics. The arguments against it include changing the concept of death, the expense of preservation and revival, lack of scientific advancement to permit revival, temptation to use premature euthanasia, and failure due to catastrophe. Arguments in favor of cryonics include the potential benefit to society, the prospect of immortality, and the benefits associated with avoiding death. Shaw explores the expense and the potential payoff, and applies an adapted version of Pascal's Wager to the question.
In 2016, Charles Tandy wrote in favor of cryonics, arguing that honoring someone's last wishes is seen as a benevolent duty in American and many other cultures.
Cryopreservation was applied to human cells beginning in 1954 with frozen sperm, which was thawed and used to inseminate three women. The freezing of humans was first scientifically proposed by Michigan professor Robert Ettinger when he wrote The Prospect of Immortality (1962). In April 1966, the first human body was frozenthough it had been embalmed for two monthsby being placed in liquid nitrogen and stored at just above freezing. The middle-aged woman from Los Angeles, whose name is unknown, was soon thawed out and buried by relatives.
The first body to be frozen with the hope of future revival was James Bedford's, a few hours after his cancer-caused death in 1967. Bedford's corpse is the only one frozen before 1974 still preserved today. In 1976, Ettinger founded the Cryonics Institute; his corpse was cryopreserved in 2011. Robert Nelson, "a former TV repairman with no scientific background" who led the Cryonics Society of California, was sued in 1981 for allowing nine bodies to thaw and decompose in the 1970s; in his defense, he claimed that the Cryonics Society had run out of money. This led to the lowered reputation of cryonics in the U.S.
In 2018, a Y-Combinator startup called Nectome was recognized for developing a method of preserving brains with chemicals rather than by freezing. The method is fatal, performed as euthanasia under general anethesia, but the hope is that future technology would allow the brain to be physically scanned into a computer simulation, neuron by neuron.
According to The New York Times, cryonicists are predominantly nonreligious white males, outnumbering women by about three to one. According to The Guardian, as of 2008, while most cryonicists used to be young, male and "geeky" recent demographics have shifted slightly towards whole families.
In 2015 Du Hong, a 61-year-old female writer of children's literature, became the first known Chinese national to have their head cryopreserved.
Cryonics is generally regarded as a fringe pseudoscience. The Society for Cryobiology have rejected as members those who practiced cryonics, and have issued a public statement saying that cryonics is "not science", and that it is a "personal choice" how people want to have their dead bodies disposed of.
Russian company KrioRus is the only non-US vendor of cryonics services. Yevgeny Alexandrov, chair of the Russian Academy of Sciences commission against pseudoscience, said there was "no scientific basis" for cryonics, and that the company's offering was based on "unfounded speculation".
Although scientists have expressed skepticism about cryonics in media sources, philosopher Ole Martin Moen has written that it only receives a "miniscule" amount of attention from academia.
While some neuroscientists contend that all the subtleties of a human mind are contained in its anatomical structure, few neuroscientists will comment directly upon the topic of cryonics due to its speculative nature. Individuals who intend to be frozen are often "looked at as a bunch of kooks". Cryobiologist Kenneth B. Storey said in 2004 that cryonics is impossible and will never be possible, as cryonics proponents are proposing to "over-turn the laws of physics, chemistry, and molecular science". Neurobiologist Michael Hendricks has said that "Reanimation or simulation is an abjectly false hope that is beyond the promise of technology and is certainly impossible with the frozen, dead tissue offered by the 'cryonics' industry".
William T. Jarvis has written that "Cryonics might be a suitable subject for scientific research, but marketing an unproven method to the public is quackery".
According to cryonicist Aschwin de Wolf and others, cryonics can often produce intense hostility from spouses who are not cryonicists. James Hughes, the executive director of the pro-life-extension Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, chooses not to personally sign up for cryonics, calling it a worthy experiment but stating laconically that "I value my relationship with my wife."
Cryobiologist Dayong Gao states that "People can always have hope that things will change in the future, but there is no scientific foundation supporting cryonics at this time." As well, while it is universally agreed that "personal identity" is uninterrupted when brain activity temporarily ceases during incidents of accidental drowning (where people have been restored to normal functioning after being completely submerged in cold water for up to 66 minutes), some people express concern that a centuries-long cryopreservation might interrupt their conception of personal identity, such that the revived person would "not be you".
Many people say there would be no point in being revived in the far future if their friends and families are dead.
Suspended animation is a popular subject in science fiction and fantasy settings. It is often the means by which a character is transported into the future.
A survey in Germany found that about half of the respondents were familiar with cryonics, and about half of those familiar with cryonics had learned of the subject from films or television.
Corpses subjected to the cryonics process include those of L. Stephen Coles (in 2014), Hal Finney (in 2014), and Ted Williams.
Disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein wanted to have his head and penis frozen after death so that he could "seed the human race with his DNA".
Television host Larry King has arranged to have his body frozen. Other notable people who have arranged for cryopreservation include Oxford philosophers Anders Sandberg and Nick Bostrom, as well as venture capitalist Peter Thiel.
The urban legend suggesting Walt Disney's corpse was cryopreserved is false; it was cremated and interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.[a] Robert A. Heinlein, who wrote enthusiastically of the concept in The Door into Summer (serialized in 1956), was cremated and had his ashes distributed over the Pacific Ocean. Timothy Leary was a long-time cryonics advocate and signed up with a major cryonics provider, but he changed his mind shortly before his death, and was not cryopreserved.
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Posted: at 3:23 am
Cryonics is the practice of preserving human bodies in extremely cold temperatures with the hope of reviving them sometime in the future. The idea is that, if someone has "died" from a disease that is incurable today, he or she can be "frozen" and then revived in the future when a cure has been discovered. A person preserved this way is said to be in cryonic suspension.
To understand the technology behind cryonics, think about the news stories you've heard of people who have fallen into an icy lake and have been submerged for up to an hour in the frigid water before being rescued. The ones who survived did so because the icy water put their body into a sort of suspended animation, slowing down their metabolism and brain function to the point where they needed almost no oxygen.
Cryonics is a bit different from being resuscitated after falling into an icy lake, though. First of all, it's illegal to perform cryonic suspension on someone who is still alive. People who undergo this procedure must first be pronounced legally dead -- that is, their heart must have stopped beating. But if they're dead, how can they ever be revived? According to scientists who perform cryonics, "legally dead" is not the same as "totally dead." Total death, they say, is the point at which all brain function ceases. Legal death occurs when the heart has stopped beating, but some cellular brain function remains. Cryonics preserves the little cell function that remains so that, theoretically, the person can be resuscitated in the future.
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I woke up on Saturday to a heartbreaking front-page article in the New York Times about a terminally ill young woman who chooses to freeze her brain. She is drawn into a cottage industry spurred by transhumanist principles that offers to preserve people in liquid nitrogen immediately after death and store their bodies (or at least their heads) in hopes that they can be reanimated or digitally replicated in a technologically advanced future.
Proponents have added a patina of scientific plausibility to this idea by citing the promise of new technologies in neuroscience, particularly recent work in connectomicsa field that maps the connections between neurons. The suggestion is that a detailed map of neural connections could be enough to restore a persons mind, memories, and personality by uploading it into a computer simulation.
Science tells us that a map of connections is not sufficient to simulate, let alone replicate, a nervous system, and that there are enormous barriers to achieving immortality in silico. First, what information is required to replicate a human mind? Second, do current or foreseeable freezing methods preserve the necessary information, and how will this information be recovered? Third, and most confounding to our intuition, would a simulation really be you?
I study a small roundworm, Caenorhabditis elegans, which is by far the best-described animal in all of biology. We know all of its genes and all of its cells (a little over 1,000). We know the identity and complete synaptic connectivity of its 302 neurons, and we have known it for 30 years.
If we could upload or roughly simulate any brain, it should be that of C. elegans. Yet even with the full connectome in hand, a static model of this network of connections lacks most of the information necessary to simulate the mind of the worm. In short, brain activity cannot be inferred from synaptic neuroanatomy.
Synapses are the physical contacts between neurons where a special form of chemoelectric signalingneurotransmissionoccurs, and they come in many varieties. They are complex molecular machines made of thousands of proteins and specialized lipid structures. It is the precise molecular composition of synapses and the membranes they are embedded in that confers their properties. The presence or absence of a synapse, which is all that current connectomics methods tell us, suggests that a possible functional relationship between two neurons exists, but little or nothing about the nature of this relationshipprecisely what you need to know to simulate it.
Additionally, neurons and other cells in the brain are in constant communication through signaling pathways that do not act through synapses. Many of the signals that regulate fundamental behaviors such as eating, sleeping, mood, mating, and social bonding are mediated by chemical cues acting through networks that are invisible to us anatomically. We know that the same set of synaptic connections can function very differently depending on what mix of these signals is present at a given time. These issues highlight an important distinction: the colossally hard problem of simulating any brain as opposed to the stupendously more difficult task of replicating a particular brain, which is required for the promised personal immortality of uploading.
The features of your neurons (and other cells) and synapses that make you you are not generic. The vast array of subtle chemical modifications, states of gene regulation, and subcellular distributions of molecular complexes are all part of the dynamic flux of a living brain. These things are not details that average out in a large nervous system; rather, they are the very things that engrams (the physical constituents of memories) are made of.
While it might be theoretically possible to preserve these features in dead tissue, that certainly is not happening now. The technology to do so, let alone the ability to read this information back out of such a specimen, does not yet exist even in principle. It is this purposeful conflation of what is theoretically conceivable with what is ever practically possible that exploits peoples vulnerability.
Finally, would an upload really be you? This is unanswerable, but we can dip our toes in. Whatever our subjective sense of self is, lets assume it arises from the operation of the physical matter of the brain. We could also tentatively conclude that such awareness is substrate-neutral: if brains can be conscious, a computer program that does everything a brain does should be conscious, too. If one is also willing to imagine arbitrarily complex technology, then we can also think about simulating a brain down to the synaptic or molecular or (why not?) atomic or quantum level.
But what is this replica? Is it subjectively you or is it a new, separate being? The idea that you can be conscious in two places at the same time defies our intuition. Parsimony suggests that replication will result in two different conscious entities. Simulation, if it were to occur, would result in a new person who is like you but whose conscious experience you dont have access to.
That means that any suggestion that you can come back to life is simply snake oil. Transhumanists have responses to these issues. In my experience, they consist of alternating demands that we trust our intuition about nonexistent technology (uploading could work) but deny our intuition about consciousness (it would not be me).
No one who has experienced the disbelief of losing a loved one can help but sympathize with someone who pays $80,000 to freeze their brain. But reanimation or simulation is an abjectly false hope that is beyond the promise of technology and is certainly impossible with the frozen, dead tissue offered by the cryonics industry. Those who profit from this hope deserve our anger and contempt.
Michael Hendricks is a neuroscientist and assistant professor of biology at McGill University.
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Posted: at 3:23 am
(Inside Science) Early in the 1960s, a group of enthusiasts advanced the concept of freezing humans as soon as they die, in hopes of reviving them after the arrival of medical advances able to cure the conditions that killed them. The idea went into practice for the first time 50 years ago.
On Jan. 12, 1967, James Bedford, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of California, became the first person to be "cyropreserved." A small team of doctors and other enthusiasts froze him a few hours after he died from liver cancer that had spread to his lungs.
A few days later the team placed the body into an insulated container packed with dry ice. Later still, Bedford was immersed in liquid nitrogen in a large Dewar container. Fifteen years on, after a series of moves from one cryopreservation facility to another, his body found a home at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona, where it still resides.
By current standards of cryonics, the procedure was remarkably untidy and disorganized. Nevertheless, a visual evaluation of Bedford's condition in 1991 found that his body had remained frozen and suffered no obvious deterioration.
"There's no date set for another examination," said R. Michael Perry, care services manager at Alcor.
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But as promoters of cryopreservation celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bedford's death and freezing known to some as "Bedford Day" they emphasize improvements to the freezing and preservation procedures that Bedford's experiences advanced.
The community is also undergoing a significant change in its expectations for reviving frozen patients. Rather than planning for a Lazarus-like resuscitation of the entire body, some proponents of the technology focus more on saving individuals' stored memories, and perhaps incorporating them into robots.
Beyond the cryopreservation community, however, an aura of scientific suspicion that surrounded Bedford's freezing remains.
"Reanimation or simulation is an abjectly false hope that is beyond the promise of technology and is certainly impossible with the frozen, dead tissue offered by the 'cryonics' industry," neuroscientist Michael Hendricks of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, wrote in Technology Review.
Scientists aren't the industry's only critics.
Families of individuals designated for freezing including Bedford's own family have gone to court to protest or defend loved ones' decisions to undergo freezing.
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In a more recent case, in 2011, a Colorado probate judge upheld a contract that Mary Robbins had signed with Alcor over objections from Robbins' children. And last year the High Court of England upheld a mother's right to seek cryonic treatment of her terminally ill 14-year-old daughter after her death, despite the father's wishes.
Public reaction to the technology reached its nadir in New England in 2002, when court documents revealed that Boston Red Sox baseball icon Ted Williams was frozen in the Alcor facility, with his head severed from his body. Williams' son John Henry, who arranged the process, was himself frozen after he died of leukemia.
Politics has also impacted the technology's progress. In 2004, for example, Michigan's state government voted to license a facility called the Cryonics Institute, located in Clinton, as a cemetery. That move, reversed eight years later, prevented the institute from preparing bodies for cryopreservation on its own, because applying such procedures to a dead body required the services of a licensed funeral director.
The cryonics industry flatly disagrees with its critics.
Alcor asserts on its website that "[t]here are no known credible technical arguments that lead one to conclude that cryonics, carried out under good conditions today, would not work." The company adds: "Cryonics is a belief that no one is really dead until the information content of the brain is lost, and that low temperatures can prevent this loss."
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Certainly the controversies have not discouraged candidates for cryopreservation.
Worldwide, more than 250 individuals are now housed in cryonic facilities, at a minimum per-person cost of about $28,000 in the U.S.
Russia's KrioRus company offers a cut-rate level starting at $12,000, with the condition that it stores several human bodies and assorted pets and other animals in communal Dewar containers. Individual contracts can specify the length of storage. At present, the U.S. and Russia are the only countries with facilities that offer human cryopreservation.
The first attempt at cryopreservation did not go particularly smoothly.
Bedford died before all preparations for his cryopreservation were complete. So instead of draining his blood and replacing it with a customized antifreeze solution to protect the body's tissues from freezing damage, the team simply injected the antifreeze into Bedford's arteries without removing the blood.
The team then surrounded the body in dry ice, and started it on a series of transfers from one container to another that ended up in a Dewar container in Alcor's facility.
Because of those difficulties, cryonics experts feared that the body had suffered serious damage. But the examination in 1991 quelled those concerns.
"We were really relieved that he was not discolored," Perry recalled. "And corners of the ice cubes [around him] were still sharp; he had stayed frozen all the time."
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In recent years, cryonics promoters have borrowed from medical advances in such fields as cryobiology and nanobiology.
To prevent ice crystals from damaging cell walls in the frozen state, cryopreservationists replace the body's blood supply with mixtures of antifreeze compounds and organ preservatives a technique developed to preserve frozen eggs for fertility treatments.
Another emerging approach accounts for the separation of Ted Williams' head and body. Based on studies of roundworms, promoters of cryonics argue that freezing can preserve the contents of individuals' brains even if their bodies can't be revived. That opens the possibility of downloading cryopreserved personalities into a robotic future body.
Hendricks disagrees. "While it may be possible to preserve these features in dead tissue, that is certainly not happening now," he pointed out in Technology Review.
Scientists such as Barry Fuller, a professor of surgical science and low temperature medicine at England's University College, London, emphasize that even preserving body parts in such a way that they remain viable on thawing remains a distant dream.
"There is ongoing research into these scientific challenges, and a potential future demonstration of the ability to cryopreserve human organs for transplantation would be a major first step into proving the concept," he told The Guardian. "But at the moment we cannot achieve that."
Nevertheless, Perry expresses optimism about a timeline for the revival of frozen humans.
"We think in terms of decades," he said. "Sometimes we say fifty to a hundred years."
David Gorski, a surgeon at Wayne State University Medical Center in Michigan, takes a darker view.
"Fifty years from now," he said, "it's likely that all that will remain of my existence will be some scientific papers and a faint memory held by my nieces and nephews and maybe, if I'm lucky, a few of my youngest readers."
Reprinted with permission from Inside Science, an editorially independent news product of the American Institute of Physics, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing, promoting and serving the physical sciences.
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In 2016, Jang Ji-sung's young daughter Nayeon passed away from a blood-related disease. But in February, the South Korean mother was reunited with her daughter in virtual reality. Experts constructed a version of her child using motion capture technology for a documentary. Wearing a VR headset and haptic gloves, Jang was able to walk, talk and play with this digital version of her daughter.
"Maybe it's a real paradise," Jang said of the moment the two met in VR. "I met Nayeon, who called me with a smile, for a very short time, but it's a very happy time. I think I've had the dream I've always wanted."
Once largely the concern of science fiction, more people are now interested in immortality -- whether that's keeping your body or mind alive forever (as explored in the new Amazon Prime comedy Upload), or in creating some kind of living memorial, like an AI-based robot or chatbot version of yourself, or of your loved one. The question is -- should we do that? And if we do, what should it look like?
In Korea, a mother was reunited with a virtual reality version of her young daughter who had passed away years before, as part of a documentary project.
Modern interest around immortality started in the 1960s, when the idea of cryonics emerged -- freezing and storing a human corpse or head with the hope of resurrecting that person in the distant future. (While some people have chosen to freeze their body after death, none have yet been revived.)
"There was a shift in death science at that time, and the idea that somehow or another death is something humans can defeat," said John Troyer, director of the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath and author of Technologies of the Human Corpse.
However, no peer-reviewed research suggests it's worth pouring millions of dollars into trying to upload our brains, or finding ways to keep our bodies alive, Troyer said. At least not yet. A 2016 study published in the journal PLOS ONE did find that exposing a preserved brain to chemical and electrical probes could make the brain function again, to some degree.
"It's all a gamble about what's possible in the future," Troyer said. "I'm just not convinced it's possible in the way [technology companies] are describing, or desirable."
There's a big difference between people actively trying to upload their brain to try and live on forever and those who die whose relatives or the public try to resurrect them in some way through technology.
In 2015, Eugenia Kuyda, co-founder and CEO of software company Replika, lost her best friend Roman after he was hit by a car in Moscow. As part of the grieving process, she turned to tech. Kuyda trained a chatbot on thousands of text messages the two had shared over the years -- creating a digital version of Roman that could still "talk" to family and friends.
The first time she messaged the bot, Kuyda said she was surprised at how close it came to feeling like she was talking to her friend again. "It was very emotional," she said. "I wasn't expecting to feel like that, because I worked on that chatbot, I knew how it was built."
If this sounds like an episode of Black Mirror, it's because it was. The 2013 episode Be Right Back centers on a young woman whose boyfriend is killed in a car accident. In mourning, she signs up for a service that allows her to communicate with an AI version of him based on his past online communications and social media profiles -- ultimately turning it into an android version of her boyfriend. But he's never exactly the same.
Eugenia Kuyda created a chatbot based on text messages from her friend Roman after he passed away in a car accident.
However, Kuyda says her Roman chatbot was a deeply personal project and tribute -- not a service for others. Anyone trying to do this on a mass scale would run into a number of barriers, she added. You'd have to decide what information would be considered public or private and who the chatbot would be talking to. The way you talk to your parents is different from the way you'd talk to your friends, or to a colleague. There wouldn't be a way to differentiate, she said.
The digital version of your friend could potentially copy the way they speak, but it would be based on things they had said in the past -- it wouldn't make new opinions or create new conversations. Also, people go through different periods in life and evolve their thinking, so it would be difficult to determine which phase the chatbot would capture.
"We leave an insane amount of data, but most of that is not personal, private or speaks about us in terms of what kind of person we are," Kuyda said. "You can merely build the shadow of a person."
The question remains: Where can we get the data to digitize people, in full? Kuyda asks. "We can deepfake a person and create some nascent technology that works -- like a 3D avatar -- and model a video of the person," she added. "But what about the mind? There's nothing that can capture our minds right now."
Perhaps the largest barrier to creating some kind of software copy of a person after they die is data. Pictures, texts, and social media platforms don't typically exist online forever. That's partially because the internet continues to evolve and partially because most content posted online belongs to that platform. If the company shuts down, people can no longer access that material.
"It's interesting and of the moment, but it's a great deal more ephemeral than we imagined," Troyer said. "A lot of the digital world disappears."
Memorialization technology doesn't typically stand the test of time, Troyer said. Think video tributes or social media memorial pages. It's no use having something saved to some cloud if no one can access it in the future, he added. Take the story of the computer that Tim Berners Lee used to create HTML on the web with -- the machine is at CERN, but no one knows the password. "I see that as sort of an allegory for our time," he said.
"We leave an insane amount of data, but most of that is not personal, private or speaks about us in terms of what kind of person we are. You can merely build the shadow of a person."
Eugenia Kuyda, co-founder and CEO of software company Luka
One of the more sci-fi concepts in the area of digitizing death came from Nectome, a Y Combinator startup that preserves the brain for potential memory extraction in some form through a high-tech embalming process. The catch? The brain has to be fresh -- so those who wanted to preserve their mind would have to be euthanized.
Nectome planned to test it with terminally ill volunteers in California, which permits doctor-assisted suicide for those patients. It collected refundable $10,000 payments for people to join a waitlist for the procedure, should it someday become more widely available (clinical trials would be years away). As of March 2018, 25 people had done so, according to the MIT Technology Review. (Nectome did not respond to requests for comment for this story.)
The startup raised $1 million in funding along with a large federal grant and was collaborating with an MIT neuroscientist. But the MIT Technology Review story garnered some negative attention from ethicists and neuroscientists, many of whom said the ability to recapture memories from brain tissue and re-create a consciousness inside a computer is at best decades away and probably not possible at all. MIT terminated its contract with Nectome in 2018.
"Neuroscience has not sufficiently advanced to the point where we know whether any brain preservation method is powerful enough to preserve all the different kinds of biomolecules related to memory and the mind," according to a statement from MIT. "It is also not known whether it is possible to recreate a person's consciousness."
It's currently impossible to upload a version of our brain to the cloud -- but some researchers are trying.
Meanwhile, an app in the works called Augmented Eternity aims to help people live on in digital form, for the sake of passing on knowledge to future generations. Hossein Rahnama, founder and CEO of context-aware computing services company FlyBits and visiting professor at MIT Media Lab, seeks to build software agents that can act as digital heirs, to complement succession planning and pass on wisdom to those who ask for it.
"Millennials are creating gigabytes of data on a daily basis and we have reached a level of maturity where we can actually create a digital version of ourselves," Rahnama said.
Augmented Eternity takes your digital footprints -- emails, photos, social media activity -- and feeds them into a machine learning engine. It analyzes how people think and act, to give you a digital being resembling an actual person, in terms of how they react to things and their attitudes, Rahnama said. You could potentially interact with this digital being as a chatbot, a Siri-like assistant, a digitally-edited video, or even a humanoid robot.
The project's purpose is to learn from humans' daily lives -- not for advertising, but to advance the world's collective intelligence, Rahnama said.
"I also like the idea of connecting digital generations," he added. "For example, someone who is similar to me in terms of their career path, health, DNA, genomics. They may be 30 or 40 years ahead of me, but there is a lot I could learn about that person."
The team is currently building a prototype. "Instead of talking to a machine like Siri and asking it a question, you can basically activate the digital construct of your peers or people that you trust in your network and ask them a question," Rahnama said.
In the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University in Japan, director Hiroshi Ishiguro has built more than 30 lifelike androids -- including a robotic version of himself. He's pioneered a research field on human-robot interactions, studying the importance of things like subtle eye movements and facial expressions for replicating humans.
"My basic purpose is to understand what a human is by creating a very human-like robot," Ishiguro said. "We can improve the algorithm to be more human-like if we can find some of the important features of a human."
Ishiguro has said that if he died, his robot could go on lecturing students in his place. However, it would never really "be" him, he said, or be able to come up with new ideas.
"We cannot transmit our consciousness to robots," Ishiguro said. "We may share the memories. The robot may say 'I'm Hiroshi Ishiguro,' but still the consciousness is independent."
Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro (right) poses with the robotic version of himself (left).
However, this line is only going to get blurrier.
"I think in the near future we're going to have a brain-machine interface," Ishiguro said. This will make the boundary between a human and a computer very ambiguous, in the sense that we could share part of a memory with the computer.
"Then, I think it's quite difficult to say where is our consciousness -- is it on the computer, or in our brain?" Ishiguro said. "Maybe both."
Despite what you may think, this won't look anything like a science fiction movie, Ishiguro said. In those familiar examples, "they download the memory or some other information in your brain onto the computer. We cannot do that," he said. "We need to have different ways for making a copy of our brains, but we don't know yet how we can do that."
Humans evolved thanks to a biological principle: Survival of the fittest. But today, we have the technology to improve our genes ourselves and to develop human-like robots, Ishiguro said.
"We don't need to prove the biological principal to survive in this world," Ishiguro said. "We can design the future by ourselves. So we need to carefully discuss what is a human, what is a human right and how we can design ourselves. I cannot give you the answers. But that is our duty to think about the future.
"That is the most important question always -- we're looking for what a human is," Ishiguro said. "That is to me the primary goal of science and engineering."
This story is part of CNET'sThe Future of Funerals series. Stay tuned for more next week.
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Posted: May 14, 2020 at 4:46 pm
Global Cryonics Technology Market 2020 to 2026, is a comprehensive report which provides a detailed overview of the major driver, opportunities, challenges, current market trends and strategies impacting the global Cryonics Technology market in conjunction with calculation and forecast of size, share, and growth rate analysis. Combining the analysis capabilities and knowledge integration with the relevant findings, the report has foretold the robust future growth of the Cryonics Technology market all told its geographical and merchandise segments.
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Key Players of the Global Cryonics Technology Market
Praxair, Cellulis, Cryologics, Cryotherm, KrioRus, VWR, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Custom Biogenic Systems, Oregon Cryonics, Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Osiris Cryonics, Sigma-Aldrich, Southern Cryonics.
Segmentation by product type
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Market Segment by Regions, regional analysis covers 2019-2025:
North America(United States, Canada and Mexico)Europe(Germany, France, UK, Russia and Italy)Asia-Pacific(China, Japan, Korea, India and Southeast Asia)South America(Brazil, Argentina, Colombia etc.)Middle East and Africa(Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa)
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Company Profiles and Sales Data:As the name suggests, this section gives the sales data of key players of the global Cryonics Technology Market as well as some useful information on their business. It talks about the gross margin, price, revenue, products and their specifications, applications, competitors, Manufacturing base, and the main business of players operating in the global Cryonics Technology Market.
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Posted: at 4:46 pm
Ted Williams was one of the greatest hitters in MLB history. The two-time Triple Crown winner and 17-time All-Star remains the last batter to finish a season with an average above .400. Sadly, since the Hall of Famer died in July 2002, his name is associated more with the things done to his body after death than his innumerable baseball accomplishments. Why was Ted Williams decapitated after his death?
The list of accomplishments in Ted Williams 19-year career is long. He won six batting titles and led the American League in home runs and RBIs four times. In 1941, the 22-year-old Williams hit .406 for the season and that included 37 home runs and 120 RBIs. He was the last hitter to ever hit above .400.
Williams followed up in 1942 with another stellar performance becoming the first-ever player to win the Triple Crown leading the league with a .356 average, hitting 36 homers, and driving in 137 RBIs. Unbelievably, he finished second in MVP voting that season.
After three years of military service in World War II, Williams returned to baseball and resumed right where he left off. He finished the 1946 season with a .342 average and won the first of two MVPs in his career. He also played in his only World Series that season. He won the Triple Crown for a second time in 1947 and retired in 1960 with a lifetime average of .344.
Williams was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966.
When Ted Williams died in Florida on July 5, 2002 at age 83, things got weird fast. Despite his wishes to be cremated and his ashes scattered in the Florida Keys, his son John Henry and youngest daughter Claudia opted to have his body sent to Scottsdale, Arizona to be frozen at the Alcor cryonics facility.
Cryonics is a process done with the hope that someday scientists will be able to bring the subjects back to life. The heads and bodies are stored in stainless steel containers at extremely cold temperatures.
When Williams oldest daughter, Bobby-Jo Ferrell learned about the plan of her siblings, she sued. John Henrys lawyer produced a family pact signed by Ted, Claudia, and John Henry, where the three agreed to be placed into biostasis after death. While there was legal wrangling back and forth between the siblings questioning the authenticity of Williams signature, Ferrell eventually dropped her lawsuit due to a lack of funds.
Several months later his death made headlines for a second time when it was discovered that Williams head had been decapitated by surgeons and stored separately from his body at the Alcor facility.
In 2009, the bizarre circumstances of the Splendid Splinters death and actions that followed took an even stranger twist with the release of a book from a former Alcor employee. In Larry Johnsons book Frozen: My Journey Into the World of Cryonics, Deception and Death, he offered up details on how employees at Alcor allegedly mistreated the Hall of Famers body.
Johnson wrote in one incident where an empty tuna can was used as a pedestal to support the batters head and had stuck to it during transportation from one container to another. An Alcor employee allegedly decided to use a monkey wrench in an attempt to dislodge the can from the head.
Then he grabbed a monkey wrench, heaved a mighty swing, missing the tuna can completely but hitting the head dead center, Johnson wrote. Tiny pieces of frozen head sprayed around the room. The author detailed how a second swing knocked the can loose.
Alcor denied all allegations that there was any mistreatment of Ted Williams. John Henry died just two years later in 2004 from leukemia. His body was transported to Alcor.
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Does Trump know his own government indirectly bankrolls some key promoters of the Russiagate hoax? – RT
Posted: at 4:46 pm
US President Donald Trump was elected on a promise to drain the swamp. Almost four years later, the Washington think-tank racket is as murky as ever, and the gravy train keeps rolling.
The false Trump/Russia collusion narrative has been dead for so long now that its hard to remember what killed it, whether it was the Mueller Report or simply death by a thousand cuts.
Here is what we know: Russiagate was a giant scam, and many of those who promoted it knowingly lied for a considerable length of time. Their aim was either to undermine Trumps presidency or prevent any improvement in US relations with Russia.
Most of the journalists who facilitated the hoax also knew it was nonsense. But their loathing of Trump and in some cases Russia, too trumped ethical considerations. Thus, much of the general public was, for years, fed a diet of grifters and washed-up old spooks pushing a scam.
The crazy thing is that many of its chief architects work for Washington think tanks funded by the US government. Given Trump has taken no obvious steps to curtail public funding for these lobby groups, it means the presidents own cabinet has been effectively bankrolling activists who are out to smear and destroy him.
Take Evelyn Farkas. A rabidly anti-Russia official in Barack Obamas government, she was subsequently looked after with a gig at NATOs Atlantic Council adjunct. This has become a traditional route in DC. When one party loses power, its apparatchiks are placed in a sort of think-tank racket cryonics chamber from which they can be reanimated in future, if their own tribe gets back into the White House.
Farkas, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, told MSNBC TV in 2017 that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to win the 2016 presidential election.
But, as Townhall reports, during an interview with the House Intelligence Committee in June 2017, where she was under oath, she admitted she didnt have any information about collusion during that interview.
As its correspondent Katie Pavlich points out, through dozens of House Intelligence Committee transcripts and after a lengthy Special Counsel investigation, it was clear from the beginning Russian collusion with the Trump campaign was a made-up talking point that was used as a political weapon.
Farkas involvement fits a pattern. Her dad came from an elite Hungarian family who had their status diluted after the Soviets installed a communist government in Budapest following World War Two. Farkas background is important, because US media ignores how many of the people who pushed the Trump-Russia hoax come from East European migrant families with an axe to grind against the Russians.
The idea that Russia stole emails from the Democratic National Congress (DNC) was based on information from CrowdStrike. This cybersecurity firm was the source of the allegation that Russian intelligence agencies had hacked the DNCs servers. You may remember the Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear narrative which was popularised by US media at the time.
CrowdStrikes co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch was born in Moscow and moved to the US with his family at the age of 14. Like Farkas, he is also attached to the Atlantic Council, and his first published involvement with the pro-NATO pressure group was in 2012.
Back in 2016, he was lionised by mainstream US media, with Esquire, for instance, saying he was our special forces (and Putins worst nightmare) and leading the fight to protect America.
It has now emerged that the following year, his partner at CrowdStrike Shawn Henry told Congress in closed-door testimony, previously buried that CrowdStrike had no concrete evidence that the data was exfiltrated from the DNC.
In other words, as journalist Aaron Mate has pointed out, CrowdStrike, the very firm behind the accusation that Russia hacked & stole DNC emails, admitted to Congress that it has no direct evidence Russia actually stole (or) exfiltrated the emails.
Of course, promoting Russiagate wasnt limited to the immigrant community. The likes of Bill Kristol, Michael McFaul, John Podesta and Clint Watts are all connected to the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMFUS), another DC lobby group which receives US government funding.
Watts was front and centre in pushing the hoax, while McFaul was at one point ubiquitous on cable news shows waffling on about Russia helping Trump to win the 2016 election. Podesta, meanwhile, alleged his emails were hacked by Russia while he was chair of Hillary Clintons failed presidential campaign.
The GMFUS receives over $1 million annually from both the US State Department and USAID. Meanwhile, the Atlantic Council gets between $500,000 and $999,000 a year from the same State Department and $100,000 to $249,000 from each of the US Air Force Academy and the US Department of Defence.
Which means Trumps government is partially funding the people who tried to destroy his presidency, based on a falsehood obvious to honest observers from the very start. So much for the US presidents campaign promise to drain the swamp.
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Posted: March 23, 2020 at 11:45 am
The comment was made by Anders Sandberg, a senior research fellow at the universitys Future of Humanity Institute. His work focuses on the potential risks future technology could pose to human civilisation.
Mr Sandberg has also spent decades involved with the transhumanist movement, which consists of people who believe humans can and should use technology to artificially augment their capabilities.
Speaking to Express.co.uk he argued humans in the future could enjoy greatly expanded lifespans and could even have their brains uploaded onto computers for safekeeping.
Asked how long humans could live Mr Sandberg replied: There is no fundamental ceiling but you are going to need to solve certain problems.
Accidents is the first one cryonics wont help you if a bus runs over you and turns you into mush.
Even if ageing and disease is not a problem you need to handle accidents and probably that means having some form of backup copies. You need some form of uploading or artificial body.
Probably the human brain cant handle that much information so you need to extend it as you get older.
You want to remember what needs to be remembered and maybe put other stuff in cyber storage.
Transhumanists believe humans can halt the ageing process and natural death.
According to Mr Sandberg this is one of the most provocative aspects of their programme.
He explained: Transhumanists have essentially since day one been saying we should really extend the human lifespan and this is perhaps one of the most controversial claims ever made.
We get way more pushback when talking about life extension than cloning or uploading into computers or going to space or taking drugs to become a more moral person.
Thats nothing compared to the potential of oh you might live much longer than you expected.
READ MORE:Academic explains how humans could become part mechanic cyborgs'
That is kind of dreadful to many people so they get very upset and start defending disease, sickness and death very strongly.
Its weird because if one believed their arguments we should be shutting down hospitals left and right and having people naturally and painfully die which of course people dont normally do. Normally we are very keen on having good hospitals and ambulances.
Mr Sandberg is the co-founder of Swedish thinktank Eudoxa and previously chaired the Swedish Transhumanist Association.
Transhumanist ideas have been gaining ground over recent years, with transhumanist political parties emerging in countries across the world including the UK.
An American transhumanist, Zoltan Istvan, recently ran against Trump for the 2020 Republican Presidential nomination.
Mr Sandberg also suggested advances in AI and drugs that improve human abilities are likely to play a role in the future.
READ MORE:US Presidential hopeful plans to ABOLISH DEATH using technology
He asserted: Its very likely artificial intelligence is going to become extremely powerful relatively soon.
Not necessarily the kind of self-willed Hal like being but at least very smart services that can solve problems for us which might speed things up.
I also have been working quite a lot on the ethics of cognitive enhancement. What about making ourselves smarter?
The good news is there are various things like smart drugs that might be helpful for certain mental tasks.
The bad news is there doesnt seem to be anything that really boost intelligence itself. That seems to be very complicated and we dont understand the brain well enough.
Oxford Universitys Future of Humanity Institute was founded in 2005 to focus on the opportunities and threats that could emerge for the human species.
It is headed by Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom, who grabbed wide attention with his 2014 book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies.
Asked what the world could look like in 40 years time Mr Sandberg replied: think a time traveller going 40 years into the future is first going to be super disappointed because it looks almost the same.
On the surface I think its going to be very similar theres going to be vehicles moving around, maybe without any drivers, there are going to be houses around and so on and then they start interacting with people and theyre going to realise this society works completely differently.
We most likely are going to have quite a lot of enhancements around that are regarded as everyday.
People are not going to think that the morning cognition enhancing pill is any weirder than the morning coffee they might even be the same thing.
The existence of a lot of machine learning and probably nanotechnology making a lot of material way more alive than they used to.
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How Long Do You Want to Live? This Technology Could Potentially Help People Live Forever – Interesting Engineering
Posted: at 11:45 am
The coronavirus may have you thinking about your mortality. At the end of the day, humans only have one life on this planet. Even more so, we are pretty fragile, prone to disease, destructive, and a bit stubborn. Since the beginning of time, humans have longed for eternal life," - the ability to extend ones life and youth far beyond its current limits. Nevertheless, you have to give humans their props for increasing their species life expectancy across the board over the last 200 years.
For the uninitiated, life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a particular age. Yet, as you are probably already wondering, how long can humans live? According to Our World in Data, the average life expectancy is 72.6 years. Yet as you are probably aware, there are select groups of people across the world, especially in wealthier nations, that have well exceeded this number. Some people have gone on to live 100 years, 110 years, and even beyond, with Jeane Calment of France living 122 years and 164 days.
But can humans live even longer? If you could, how long would you want to live? 200 years? 500 years? Maybe a full millennium? Though this might seem like a bit of science fiction, technology could advance to the point where humans could live forever. In fact, some futurists argue that if you make it to 2050, you are probably not going to die. So, stay inside, please.
Futurist Dr. Ian Pearson has gone on to argue that by using the power of technology, humanity might be able to merge our minds with machines, making our bodies obsolete. You could end up attending your own body funeral. Pearson paints the picture of this future,stating, One day, your body dies, and with it, your brain stops, but no big problem, because 99% of your mind is still fine, running happily on IT, in the cloud. Assuming you saved enough and prepared well, you connect to an android to use as your body from now on, attend your funeral, and then carry on as before, still you, just with a younger, highly upgraded body.
And this is just the beginning, beyond 2050, there could be many different ways you may be able to preserve your mind and consciousness. Humans might just switch to different humanoid bodies after a certain period the same way you might buy a new car with new features. Or thanks to projects like Neuralink, your mind may just be a few simple clicks away from downloading yourself into a computer or robotic body. Maybe thousands of years from now, all of humanity may decide it is better for humans to live in a massive megastructure that practically generates our own reality.
Today that is what we are going to explore. There is plenty of technology out there that could potentially change the entire direction of humanity, posing the question; will humans eventually be able to live forever?
Like most of the things on this list, this sounds like something out of a science fiction film. Yet people like University of Southern Californias Theodore Berger, Duke Universitys Mikhail Lebedev, and Alexander Kaplan of Moscow University, all believe its possible. There are already companies out there working on ways to link our minds to machines. At the moment, there are more practical reasons for this. like offering those who have mobility disabilities the ability to live more normal and fulfilling lives.
However, it can go even further than that. The mind will be in the cloud, and be able to use any android that you feel like to inhabit the real world,says Pearson. It could get to a point in which you can hire an android body for the day. Rather than travel to Jamaica, just upload your brain to an android stationed in Jamaica. Or maybe there is a great concert that you want to see, but the band is in another city thousands of miles away. You may be able to simply upload yourself to experience the show. The result of this is that humans may never need a fleshy body again.
3D printing has come a long way, virtually impacting almost every major industry across the world, including healthcare. Just in the past couple of years, researchers from separate organizations and private institutions have found ways to 3D print organs. A team of researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel unveiled a 3D printed heart with human tissue and vessels just last year.
Companies like Skorpio Medical have gone as far as to begin research in the realms of 3D printed limbs. In the near future, you may be able to simply renew a body part when it goes bad. Your body gets more and more limited as you get older. Advances in biotechnologies could put an end to this. Even more so, genetic engineering could eventually prevent the aging of cells or completely reverse it altogether. Lose a finger? Simply print a new one? Need a new arm? Call up a doctor and have them reinstall one.
Cryogenic freezing has its fair share of skeptics, but over the years, the scientific community has slowly embraced the idea. Now, you cannot freeze yourself yet and wake up, but there could be a future in which you simply put your body on ice for extended periods of time to be awakened on a given date or time.
This could come in handy during trips to distant planets hundreds of light-years away. Nevertheless, cryogenic freezing is simply an option for people who want to freeze their bodies when they pass away with the aims of bringing them back during a time period where science makes it possible. However, there is some research that centers around using cryonics to slow tissue aging.
You have probably heard it before, but we are probably living in a virtual world, at least that is one people who buy into simulation theory believe. However, in the coming age of electronic immortality, living in the virtual world may become an alternative to living in the current one. Think of it like that episode of San Junipero from the popular Netflix series Black Mirror. Perhaps in the future, androids are extremely expensive, but the cheaper alternative is to have some humans uploaded into a cloud-based virtual reality system, a place where you could spend all eternity living in peace with an avatar of your choosing. Most people already live on the internet, so in most cases, it is just a matter of time?
But, what could come after creating a virtual world? Though this could happen far beyond 2050, we are talking thousands of years; it could be possible. In short, humanity might be able to simulate reality on a universal scale using what is known as a matrioshka brain. Based on the Dyson sphere, a matrioshka brain is a hypothetical megastructure proposed by Robert J. Bradbury. The idea was proposed when imagining the type of highly advanced civilizations that are out there in the universe as this would be an impressive Class B stellar engine, employing the entire energy output of a star to drive computer systems.
Our entire species could be uploaded on this computer system able to simulate reality and remake the universe as we know it. Though this idea may seem far from reality, the idea of uploading the mind to a computer seemed like a distant fantasy at some point.
One of the lesser-known projects that Elon Musk is working on centers around the star-up Neuralink. The company has ambitious plans to directly link brains and computers using a simple, noninvasive device that we can install in our brains. The current fascination with brain-computer interface centers around helping those with neurological mobility issues. However, Musks project extends far beyond that. The eventual goal is to create a "digital superintelligence layer" to link humans with artificial intelligence. As stated in the Neuralink San Francisco presentation, "Ultimately, we can do a full brain-machine interface where we can achieve a sort of symbiosis with AI."
But why stop there? Developments in robotics and prosthetics could open the gates to human-robot hybrids. You may be able to simply go in for a procedure to get bionic eyes, a robotic arm, new legs, etc., all with features that suit your needs and wildest dreams. Just like a toolbox, you could be able to switch out different arms, fingers, and legs for different activities.
Do you think it will be possible for humans to live forever? Share your opinion in the comment section.