so I’ve been thinking about…

November 13, 2015

So this week I got to thinking about cryonics, and the big underlying, unspoken assumption held by cryonics companies and those who actually take the steps to make sure they’re properly preserved at the moment of death (ideally, my skimming research tells me) so that they might be revived, repaired, and restored at some future date when medical science has solved All the Problems.

And the assumption isn’t the basic notion that they can be revived, that medicine will someday be advanced enough to unfreeze them safely and then repair whatever killed them.  The huge, unspoken assumption is that future medicine will care.  I’m sure cryonics companies are working hard to have the financial endowment and administration to keep their clients frozen safely, for whatever values of “safely” they’ve established.  But do they have the administration and future management in place to advocate for their clients to the medical community?  To monitor medical science to keep track of when future medicine might have the ability to successfully revive their clients?  Are they doing research into cryo-revival themselves?  Will they keep track of not only revival, but when medicine might have the cures their clients need?  And do they have a system in place to actually go to doctors/hospitals/whatever and say “Hey, we’ve got this frozen body here we want you to work on.”  And why do they have the complete and utter faith that those future doctors and hospitals will say, “Why yes, of course, come right on in?”

Because that’s what they’re depending on.  Not the future medical technology, but on the benevolence of those future medical practitioners to want to spend the time and effort treating clients who’ve been effectively and legally dead for decades or longer.

So that’s what I’m thinking about this week.

 

9 Responses to “so I’ve been thinking about…”

  1. Mark Henwick Says:

    They’ll unfreeze them, restore them to health and vitality, and then say, “see, there’s this little war out on the belt of Orion…”

  2. Amie Gibbons Says:

    The thing that gets me about all this is that they are freezing people that are already dead. I mean, if someone has cancer and they can freeze the person a la Mrs. Freeze before it advances, and then bring them back when there’s a cure for cancer, that makes sense (you know, once the technology is there to do this outside of a comic book).

    BUT they’re freezing people that are already dead. It doesn’t matter if they find a cure for what killed you, because they’re going to have to bring you back to life first. And we all know from many shows and books that that never ends well🙂

  3. carriev Says:

    Amie: So in the bit of my skimming research I found out that the cryonics companies have a rather broad definition of “not dead yet.” In their ideal cases, they literally hang out nearby when terminal patients are nearing the end. They legally aren’t allowed to do anything to the patients until they’re declared dead by the medical professionals, but as far as the cryonics folks are concerned “declared dead” just means the doctors let the heart stop beating. The cryonics folks immediately jump in, start the heart beating artificially again (there’s a rather alarming thumping machine that does this), in order to continue the blood circulation — so technically, the brain is getting blood and isn’t dead yet. They figure they have 5 minutes or so between when the heart stops beating before the brain actually starts dying, and this is their window to begin preservation procedures, which involve a lot more than just freezing — there’s a lot of medications involved as well.

    So, as far as they’re concerned, as long as the brain is getting blood their patients aren’t dead. Which means they consider their frozen clients to be not dead yet.

    After reading about all of this, I have decided I want nothing to do with cryonics and would rather be cremated and planted under a tree so at least I’m being useful.

  4. Max More Says:

    Well, your last comment is too bad, Carrie. I hope you change your mind once cryonics becomes standard practice — as it will one day. There are answers to most of your questions on Alcor’s website, but it seems that you’re no longer interested. Repairing, reviving, and reintegrating patients is part of Alcor’s mission.

  5. Jazzlet Says:

    I have never understood why you would want to be frozen once dead then awakened in the future unless all of your loved ones were going to do it too. But besides that what would the future want with a load of antiquated, ignorant (in future terms) has beens? While a few historians might be interested in such people as a research resource I can’t see society as a whole benefiting from unfreezing people who would be unlikely to have useful skills.

  6. Max More Says:

    I DO expect to see many of my friends and loved ones make the journey with me. I already have a couple of friends who have been cryopreserved and hope to be there to greet them if/when we can repair and revive them. But, even if I knew I would not no anyone, I would STILL want to extend my life this way. Life is too good to just throw away. What “the future” wants is irrelevant. My cryonics organization is motivated to revive me. I can then catch up.

  7. WanabePBWriter Says:

    If you can guarantee me treatment by the Durona Group, sign me up.

  8. advancedatheist Says:

    >I have never understood why you would want to be frozen once dead then awakened in the future unless all of your loved ones were going to do it too.

    I notice that relatively young people tend to bring this up as an objection. But you’ll lose all of your loved ones eventually any way, if you live long enough. I live in a world now where I can no longer talk to my grandparents and my father, but I manage somehow. You just go out and make new friends and form new relationships.

    I’ve noticed that people love time-dislocation stories if you do them right. Just look at the popularity of the “Outlander” franchise. The 20th Century nurse character, Claire Beauchamp Randall, suddenly finds herself in a different time – 18th Century Scotland around the time of the Jacobite rebellion – where she doesn’t know anyone, she doesn’t understand the social situation and she urgently needs to find people to connect with who will accept her, as a matter of literal survival. Oh, and Claire meets her soul mate in this era, though she feels conflicted about her new relationship because she left behind a less masculine but decent husband in the 20th Century.

    This sounds a lot like a cryonic revival scenario, only instead of going a few centuries into the future, you go a few centuries into the past. Yet you would face many of the same challenges either way.

    >But besides that what would the future want with a load of antiquated, ignorant (in future terms) has beens? While a few historians might be interested in such people as a research resource I can’t see society as a whole benefiting from unfreezing people who would be unlikely to have useful skills.

    I don’t find that a compelling objection. I live in rural Arizona, and I know guys who make a living as cowboys and ranch hands, just like Arizonans a hundred years ago. These men don’t seem too complicated mentally, but they have built satisfactory lives for themselves.

    Other people in 2015 make a living with traditional skills as organic farmers and craftsmen in “artisan” businesses. If the current economy has niches for people with 19th Century skills, then I don’t see why that would change for the economy in, say, the 23rd Century.


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