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Archive for the ‘Cryonics’ Category

To Be a Machine, book review: Disrupting life itself – ZDNet

To Be a Machine: Adventures among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death Mark O'Connell Granta 242 pages ISBN: 978-1-78378-196-6 12.99

"We built ingenious devices and we destroyed things." These words are easy to imagine carved on the tombstone of the human race. In To Be a Machine, where these words appear after an alarming session with people working on artificial intelligence, they're just one of the many possible futures that Dublin journalist Mark O'Connell visits. None seem to appeal to him much.

A friend once observed that anyone who had ever watched a baby could see how limited AI really is. Here, O'Connell's new baby son helpfully provides him with a grounding biological balance as he ponders the work of people who, in one way or another, all want to transcend biology.

Many of the ideas O'Connell explores, and some of the people he interviews, will be familiar to those who who've read prior efforts, beginning with Ed Regis's Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition. It's probably a mark of some kind of social change that Regis, writing 26 years ago, couldn't avoid -- or rather, embraced -- a certain, "Oh, my God, are these people nuts or what?" tone, while O'Connell, writing now, can be more soberly reflective. The Singularity, mind uploading, cryonics, whole-brain emulation, real-life 'cyborgs', and escaping the surly bonds of Earth to colonise distant planets and save the future of humanity may be no closer to reality than they were in 1991, but the ideas are more familiar: twenty-five years of Wired magazine and Silicon Valley hegemony have had their effect.

Today, when Nick Bostrom predicts (in his book Superintelligence) that an AI might turn all the Earth's resources to making paper clips he may still seem crazy -- but he's an Oxford University professor and director of the Future of Humanity Institute. Colonizing space to save the human race may be a fringe notion -- but it's also been embraced by the physicist Stephen Hawking.

To embrace biology, O'Connell is told during his study of cryonics, is to buy into "deathist ideology". I sympathize here: visiting the leading cryonics company, Alcor, and learning the details of cryopreservation can make death seem almost cuddly. Cryonicists themselves admit that revival is a very long shot -- but it's the only non-zero option.

The one overtly comic section of To Be a Machine, therefore, is the one that's most embodied: O'Connell watches as robots try to complete DARPA's 2015 challenge -- there's a collection of the best pratfalls at Popular Mechanics. The hardest things to automate are the things humans learn earliest: the 2015 state of the art, after millions of dollars and millions of hours of human engineering, couldn't climb stairs or open doors as well as a two-year-old. So in that area, at least, we can feel smug.

Given that the technology industry famously loves disruption, it should be no surprise that it attracts people who favour disrupting life itself. In the end, however, O'Connell favours blood and bone.

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To Be a Machine, book review: Disrupting life itself - ZDNet

Why head transplants won’t disprove the existence of God – The Tidings

Denver, Colo., May 23, 2017 / 03:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With plans for the first human head transplant surgery looming in the next year, a lead doctor on the formidable project has high hopes for the procedure. Along with the aim of finding a new body for a yet-to-be-selected patient, the physician says that the surgery as a first step toward immortality will effectively disprove religion. But Catholic critics have called into question not only the ethics of such a risky procedure, but the dubious claim that such a development would render belief in God irrelevant.

The actual trying of the surgery at this point I think would be unethical because of the tremendous risk involved, and it is an unproven surgery, Dr. Paul Scherz, assistant professor of moral theology and ethics at The Catholic University of America, told CNA.

Sherz made his remarks following the news that Italian doctor Sergio Canavero is aiming to carry out the first human head transplant surgery within the next 10 months. It's a process Canavero hopes will pave the way for the process of transplanting cryogenically frozen brains and ultimately, in his view, to the eradication of death.

Canavero serves as director of Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group and has teamed up with Harbin Medical Centre and Doctor Xiaoping Ren, an orthopedic surgeon who was involved with the first successful hand transplant in the U.S. The first surgical attempt for the head transplant is expected to take place in China, where the group says they're more likely to find a donor body.

Cryonics involves the freezing of the brain or even the whole body of patients, with expectations that future science will have the means to restore the frozen tissue and extend life. Because conscious minds will have experienced life outside of death, Canavero said the surgery would then remove the fear of death and the people's need for religion. He said if the process succeeds, religions will be swept away forever.

However, Sherz responded that even if the surgery was a success, it would not disprove the Catholic faith. There is nothing in the Catholic tradition of how we understand the soul that would think that if you moved a head or moved the brain that that wouldnt allow the person to come back to life, he said.

Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group has already claimed that a successful head transplant has been carried out on a monkey, but not all scientists agree that the operation can be recorded as a success. Before the monkey's head was stitched back together, it was removed, cooled, and the blood of the transplant body was cross circulated with an outside source. Canavero and his group claimed the supply of blood was then connected to prove the surgery succeeded without brain damage, but the spinal cord was left unattached.

How the connected blood supply proves the surgery is possible without brain damage was not described, and many bioethicists are skeptical of the publication of the surgery's success without proper peer review and of the issues around the severed spine. Because the technology has not yet been developed, the bioethicists worry that the severed spine may never be reconstructed, leaving the patient worse off than before.

Despite the pervasive belief in the surgery's failure, Canavero claims there's a 90 percent chance that the human head transplant will succeed. And not only that, its success would allow humans to no longer need to be afraid of death.

Father Tad Pacholczyk, who serves as a bioethicist for the National Catholic Bioethics Center, disagreed with Canavero's definition of being brought back to life. He said to assume death as a necessary product of either the head surgery or brain surgery is gullible and mistaken, as there is potential for the patient to be merely unconscious.

The patient undergoing the head transplant is not dead, only unconscious, he told CNA. There is not any 'bringing back to life'There is merely a restoration of consciousness, briefly lost during the movement of the head from one human body to the other.

Scherz also said that the Church accepts an intimate and mysterious relationship between soul and body, and that the procedure's success wouldn't necessary disprove the soul or religion. Our neurological tissue has important part to play in our soulThe soul is always intimately related to the body. We are not just souls that are disembodied, right? We are embodied spirits or spirited bodies.

Most physicians agree that the proposed surgery's success rate is infinitesimal, and they've questioned the morality of a procedure that's doomed to fail and the unrealistic hope life extension projects could give to people. I am concerned that the rights of vulnerable patients undergoing cryonics cannot be protected indefinitely, Dr. Channa Jayasena, a lecturer in Reproductive Endocrinology at Imperial College in London, told the Telegraph. Cryonics, she said, has risks for the patient, poses ethical issues for society, is highly expensive, but has no proven benefit.

And the hope for immortal life, Scherz weighed in, isn't a realistic desire in a fallen world. Living forever in bodily form is not going to satisfy anyone, he said. If the goal is not to help someone to get back bodily movement or things like that, but to try to live forever on this earth, then I think if you really want to get over the fear of death then you will have to come to terms with the fact that we are mortal. That what's going to help you to live a better life because you are going to be willing to give your life to things like service.

In fact, he said that people in transhumanist movements have admitted they would most likely avoid risky behavior in order to preserve their lives. If life extension projects come into being there is so much more to lose and you committed yourself to trying to live on this earth for as long as possible, which stands in contrast to the Catholic tradition and a lot of the philosophical traditions, Scherz noted.

Continue reading here:
Why head transplants won't disprove the existence of God - The Tidings

Why head transplants won’t disprove the existence of God | Angelus – The Tidings

Denver, Colo., May 23, 2017 / 03:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With plans for the first human head transplant surgery looming in the next year, a lead doctor on the formidable project has high hopes for the procedure. Along with the aim of finding a new body for a yet-to-be-selected patient, the physician says that the surgery as a first step toward immortality will effectively disprove religion. But Catholic critics have called into question not only the ethics of such a risky procedure, but the dubious claim that such a development would render belief in God irrelevant.

The actual trying of the surgery at this point I think would be unethical because of the tremendous risk involved, and it is an unproven surgery, Dr. Paul Scherz, assistant professor of moral theology and ethics at The Catholic University of America, told CNA.

Sherz made his remarks following the news that Italian doctor Sergio Canavero is aiming to carry out the first human head transplant surgery within the next 10 months. It's a process Canavero hopes will pave the way for the process of transplanting cryogenically frozen brains and ultimately, in his view, to the eradication of death.

Canavero serves as director of Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group and has teamed up with Harbin Medical Centre and Doctor Xiaoping Ren, an orthopedic surgeon who was involved with the first successful hand transplant in the U.S. The first surgical attempt for the head transplant is expected to take place in China, where the group says they're more likely to find a donor body.

Cryonics involves the freezing of the brain or even the whole body of patients, with expectations that future science will have the means to restore the frozen tissue and extend life. Because conscious minds will have experienced life outside of death, Canavero said the surgery would then remove the fear of death and the people's need for religion. He said if the process succeeds, religions will be swept away forever.

However, Sherz responded that even if the surgery was a success, it would not disprove the Catholic faith. There is nothing in the Catholic tradition of how we understand the soul that would think that if you moved a head or moved the brain that that wouldnt allow the person to come back to life, he said.

Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group has already claimed that a successful head transplant has been carried out on a monkey, but not all scientists agree that the operation can be recorded as a success. Before the monkey's head was stitched back together, it was removed, cooled, and the blood of the transplant body was cross circulated with an outside source. Canavero and his group claimed the supply of blood was then connected to prove the surgery succeeded without brain damage, but the spinal cord was left unattached.

How the connected blood supply proves the surgery is possible without brain damage was not described, and many bioethicists are skeptical of the publication of the surgery's success without proper peer review and of the issues around the severed spine. Because the technology has not yet been developed, the bioethicists worry that the severed spine may never be reconstructed, leaving the patient worse off than before.

Despite the pervasive belief in the surgery's failure, Canavero claims there's a 90 percent chance that the human head transplant will succeed. And not only that, its success would allow humans to no longer need to be afraid of death.

Father Tad Pacholczyk, who serves as a bioethicist for the National Catholic Bioethics Center, disagreed with Canavero's definition of being brought back to life. He said to assume death as a necessary product of either the head surgery or brain surgery is gullible and mistaken, as there is potential for the patient to be merely unconscious.

The patient undergoing the head transplant is not dead, only unconscious, he told CNA. There is not any 'bringing back to life'There is merely a restoration of consciousness, briefly lost during the movement of the head from one human body to the other.

Scherz also said that the Church accepts an intimate and mysterious relationship between soul and body, and that the procedure's success wouldn't necessary disprove the soul or religion. Our neurological tissue has important part to play in our soulThe soul is always intimately related to the body. We are not just souls that are disembodied, right? We are embodied spirits or spirited bodies.

Most physicians agree that the proposed surgery's success rate is infinitesimal, and they've questioned the morality of a procedure that's doomed to fail and the unrealistic hope life extension projects could give to people. I am concerned that the rights of vulnerable patients undergoing cryonics cannot be protected indefinitely, Dr. Channa Jayasena, a lecturer in Reproductive Endocrinology at Imperial College in London, told the Telegraph. Cryonics, she said, has risks for the patient, poses ethical issues for society, is highly expensive, but has no proven benefit.

And the hope for immortal life, Scherz weighed in, isn't a realistic desire in a fallen world. Living forever in bodily form is not going to satisfy anyone, he said. If the goal is not to help someone to get back bodily movement or things like that, but to try to live forever on this earth, then I think if you really want to get over the fear of death then you will have to come to terms with the fact that we are mortal. That what's going to help you to live a better life because you are going to be willing to give your life to things like service.

In fact, he said that people in transhumanist movements have admitted they would most likely avoid risky behavior in order to preserve their lives. If life extension projects come into being there is so much more to lose and you committed yourself to trying to live on this earth for as long as possible, which stands in contrast to the Catholic tradition and a lot of the philosophical traditions, Scherz noted.

Continue reading here:
Why head transplants won't disprove the existence of God | Angelus - The Tidings

Why Head Transplants Won’t Disprove the Existence of God – Patheos (blog)

Denver, Colo., May 23, 2017 / 03:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With plans for the first human head transplant surgery looming in the next year, a lead doctor on the formidable project has high hopes for the procedure.

Along with the aim of finding a new body for a yet-to-be-selected patient, the physician says that the surgery as a first step toward immortality will effectively disprove religion.

But Catholic critics have called into question not only the ethics of such a risky procedure, but the dubious claim that such a development would render belief in God irrelevant.

The actual trying of the surgery at this point I think would be unethical because of the tremendous risk involved, and it is an unproven surgery, Dr. Paul Scherz, assistant professor of moral theology and ethics at The Catholic University of America, told CNA.

Sherz made his remarks following the news that Italian doctor Sergio Canavero is aiming to carry out the first human head transplant surgery within the next 10 months. Its a process Canavero hopes will pave the way for the process of transplanting cryogenically frozen brains and ultimately, in his view, to the eradication of death.

Canavero serves as director of Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group and has teamed up with Harbin Medical Centre and Doctor Xiaoping Ren, an orthopedic surgeon who was involved with the first successful hand transplant in the U.S. The first surgical attempt for the head transplant is expected to take place in China, where the group says theyre more likely to find a donor body.

Cryonics involves the freezing of the brain or even the whole body of patients, with expectations that future science will have the means to restore the frozen tissue and extend life.

Because conscious minds will have experienced life outside of death, Canavero said the surgery would then remove the fear of death and the peoples need for religion. He said if the process succeeds, religions will be swept away forever.

However, Sherz responded that even if the surgery was a success, it would not disprove the Catholic faith.

There is nothing in the Catholic tradition of how we understand the soul that would think that if you moved a head or moved the brain that that wouldnt allow the person to come back to life, he said.

Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group has already claimed that a successful head transplant has been carried out on a monkey, but not all scientists agree that the operation can be recorded as a success.

Before the monkeys head was stitched back together, it was removed, cooled, and the blood of the transplant body was cross circulated with an outside source. Canavero and his group claimed the supply of blood was then connected to prove the surgery succeeded without brain damage, but the spinal cord was left unattached.

How the connected blood supply proves the surgery is possible without brain damage was not described, and many bioethicists are skeptical of the publication of the surgerys success without proper peer review and of the issues around the severed spine.

Because the technology has not yet been developed, the bioethicists worry that the severed spine may never be reconstructed, leaving the patient worse off than before.

Despite the pervasive belief in the surgerys failure, Canavero claims theres a 90 percent chance that the human head transplant will succeed. And not only that, its success would allow humans to no longer need to be afraid of death.

Father Tad Pacholczyk, who serves as a bioethicist for the National Catholic Bioethics Center, disagreed with Canaveros definition of being brought back to life.

He said to assume death as a necessary product of either the head surgery or brain surgery is gullible and mistaken, as there is potential for the patient to be merely unconscious.

The patient undergoing the head transplant is not dead, only unconscious, he told CNA. There is not any bringing back to lifeThere is merely a restoration of consciousness, briefly lost during the movement of the head from one human body to the other.

Scherz also said that the Church accepts an intimate and mysterious relationship between soul and body, and that the procedures success wouldnt necessary disprove the soul or religion.

Our neurological tissue has important part to play in our soulThe soul is always intimately related to the body. We are not just souls that are disembodied, right? We are embodied spirits or spirited bodies.

Most physicians agree that the proposed surgerys success rate is infinitesimal, and theyve questioned the morality of a procedure thats doomed to fail and the unrealistic hope life extension projects could give to people.

I am concerned that the rights of vulnerable patients undergoing cryonics cannot be protected indefinitely, Dr. Channa Jayasena, a lecturer in Reproductive Endocrinology at Imperial College in London, told the Telegraph.

Cryonics, she said, has risks for the patient, poses ethical issues for society, is highly expensive, but has no proven benefit.

And the hope for immortal life, Scherz weighed in, isnt a realistic desire in a fallen world. Living forever in bodily form is not going to satisfy anyone, he said.

If the goal is not to help someone to get back bodily movement or things like that, but to try to live forever on this earth, then I think if you really want to get over the fear of death then you will have to come to terms with the fact that we are mortal.

That whats going to help you to live a better life because you are going to be willing to give your life to things like service.

In fact, he said that people in transhumanist movements have admitted they would most likely avoid risky behavior in order to preserve their lives.

If life extension projects come into being there is so much more to lose and you committed yourself to trying to live on this earth for as long as possible, which stands in contrast to the Catholic tradition and a lot of the philosophical traditions, Scherz noted.

Here is the original post:
Why Head Transplants Won't Disprove the Existence of God - Patheos (blog)

Forget healthcare this startup offers cryonic freezing as an employee benefit – Digital Trends

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Why it matters to you

If free lunches and a foosball table aren't enticing work perks, this AI-powered hedge fund is offering new recruits a chance to live forever.

Generous employee perks are as much a part of the tech industry as long work hours, office Nerf gun battles, and people overusing the word disruption. But while most firms only go so far as free meals, on-site yoga classes, and maybe the occasional indoor climbing wall, an artificial intelligence-driven hedge fund is taking things to the next level.

The good news? Numeraisnew employee benefit is quite literally the coolest one we have heard about. The bad news? You wont be able to enjoy it until youre dead.

We are allowing employees cryonic body preservation as a benefit, Richard Craib, founder of Numerai, told Digital Trends. Employees sign up through a life insurance policy and upon legal death, the life insurance claim is handed over to cryonics provider Alcor.

While the idea of whole-body preservation cryonics being a benefit isnt necessarily going to appeal to everyone, the hope is that it will appeal to the right kind of people, who will have something to bring to Numerai. That means folks with an interest (and, preferably, plenty of impressive qualifications) in artificial intelligence. Strong education backgrounds in mathematics and statistics are also advantageous, Craib continued.

The company is clearly doing something right in this department because it already includes former employees from Apple and Google DeepMind among its (soon to be frozen) ranks.

As to how long successful candidates will be frozen for well, that depends on a whole lot on scientific advances. According to Alcors website, Revival of todays cryonics patients will require future repair by highly advanced future technology, such as molecular nanotechnology. Technology that is advanced enough to repair a cryopreserved brain would by its nature also be able to regrow new tissues, organs, and a healthy body for the revived person.

Dont expect too much free time to explore your new futuristic home when you are thawed, though, because Craib is joining employees in the cryonics process. The only worse thing than being reanimated years in the future, to find that all your friends and family are long-since dead and youre a living fossil with outdated 21st-century views? Waking up in the aforementioned scenario, only to immediately be put back to work by your boss.

I personally signed up for Alcor recently, he explained. Many of the other Numerai employees were intrigued as to why and generally agree with the argument that a small chance of eternal life is worth the risk of an unconventional post-death experience. After discussing the idea on This Week In Startups, we decided to offer it to all employees.

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Forget healthcare this startup offers cryonic freezing as an employee benefit - Digital Trends

Company’s benefits package includes chance at eternal life | New … – New York Post

Having your assets frozen is officially a job perk.

Numerai, a San Francisco-based hedge fund, is currently hiring for a full stack engineer and the position comes with some cool benefits.

The $130,000-$160,000-a-year position seeks an optimistic and passionate individual to help develop the companysweb app, numer.ai. And your benefits package includes the option to be cryogenically frozen after you die.

Specifically, the job offers whole-body preservation cryonics through Alcor. Richard Craib, Numerais founder, told Digital Trends that the offering started as a joke, but he hopes it will attract some interesting candidates.

Numerai cares about its employees beyond their legal deaths, the job listing says.

According to Alcors website, over 100 people have been cryogenically preserved since 1967.

The over $100,000 process involves injecting a persons veins with chemicals shortly after theyre pronounced dead. Once the body arrives at the cryogenics facility their blood is replaced with a preservation solution and their body is stored in a tank of liquid nitrogen kept at -348 degrees Fahrenheit.

The hope is that technology will eventually be advanced enough to bring the frozen bodies back to life.

Craib, who is already signed up for Alcor, said many of his employees generally agree with the argument that a small chance of eternal life is worth the risk of an unconventional post-death experience.

The option is available through the companys life insurance policy, with Alcor receiving the life insurance claim after an employees death.

Continued here:
Company's benefits package includes chance at eternal life | New ... - New York Post

Cryonic freezing is the coolest employee perk in Silicon Valley literally – Yahoo News

Ammentorp/123RF

Generous employee perks are as much a part of the tech industry as long work hours, office Nerf gun battles, and people overusing the word disruption. But while most firms only go so far as free meals, on-site yoga classes, and maybe the occasional indoor climbing wall, an artificial intelligence-driven hedge fund is taking things to the next level.

The good news? Numeraisnew employee benefit is quite literally the coolest one we have heard about. The bad news? You wont be able to enjoy it until youre dead.

We are allowing employees cryonic body preservation as a benefit, Richard Craib, founder of Numerai, told Digital Trends. Employees sign up through a life insurance policy and upon legal death, the life insurance claim is handed over to cryonics provider Alcor.

While the idea of whole-body preservation cryonics being a benefit isnt necessarily going to appeal to everyone, the hope is that it will appeal to the right kind of people, who will have something to bring to Numerai. That means folks with an interest (and, preferably, plenty of impressive qualifications) in artificial intelligence. Strong education backgrounds in mathematics and statistics are also advantageous, Craib continued.

The company is clearly doing something right in this department because it already includes former employees from Apple and Google DeepMind among its (soon to be frozen) ranks.

As to how long successful candidates will be frozen for well, that depends on a whole lot on scientific advances. According to Alcors website, Revival of todays cryonics patients will require future repair by highly advanced future technology, such as molecular nanotechnology. Technology that is advanced enough to repair a cryopreserved brain would by its nature also be able to regrow new tissues, organs, and a healthy body for the revived person.

Dont expect too much free time to explore your new futuristic home when you are thawed, though, because Craib is joining employees in the cryonics process. The only worse thing than being reanimated years in the future, to find that all your friends and family are long-since dead and youre a living fossil with outdated 21st-century views? Waking up in the aforementioned scenario, only to immediately be put back to work by your boss.

I personally signed up for Alcor recently, he explained. Many of the other Numerai employees were intrigued as to why and generally agree with the argument that a small chance of eternal life is worth the risk of an unconventional post-death experience. After discussing the idea on This Week In Startups, we decided to offer it to all employees.

Original post:
Cryonic freezing is the coolest employee perk in Silicon Valley literally - Yahoo News

Can A Human Be Frozen And Brought Back To Life? – Zidbits

Science

We see it all the time in movies and TV shows. Someone is frozen and brought back to life. Its called cryonics. Is there any actual science behind it?

Published on February 21, 2011

We see it all the time in movies. A person gets frozen or put in cryosleep and then unfrozen at a later date with no aging taking place, or other ill effects.

Sometimes this happens on purpose, like to someone with an incurable disease hoping a cure exists in the future, or sometimes by accident, like someone getting frozen in a glacier.

The science behind it does exist and the application of the practice is called cryonics. Its a technique used to store a persons body at an extremely low temperature with the hope of one day reviving them. This technique is being performed today, but the technology behind it is still in its infancy.

Someone preserved this way is said to be in cryonic suspension. The hope is that, if someone has died from a disease or condition that is currently incurable, they can be frozen and then revived in the future when a cure has been discovered.

Its currently illegal to perform cryonic suspension on someone who is still alive. Those who wish to be cryogenically frozen must first be pronounced legally dead which means their heart has stopped beating. Though, if theyre dead, how can they ever be revived?

According to companies who perform the procedure, legally dead is not the same as totally dead. Total death, they claim, is the point at which all brain function ceases. They claim that the difference is based on the fact that some cellular brain function remains even after the heart has stopped beating. Cryonics preserves some of that cell function so that, at least theoretically, the person can be brought back to life at a later date.

After your heart stops beating and you are pronounced legally dead, the company you signed with takes over. An emergency response team from the facility immediately gets to work. They stabilize your body by supplying your brain with enough oxygen and blood to preserve minimal function until you can be transported to the suspension facility. Your body is packed in ice and injected with an anticoagulant to prevent your blood from clotting during the trip. A medical team is on standby awaiting the arrival of your body at the cryonics facility.

After you reach the cryonics facility, the actual freezing can begin.

They could, and while youd certainly be frozen, most of the cells in your body would shatter and die.

As water freezes, it expands. Since cells are made up of mostly water, freezing expands the stuff inside which destroys their cell walls and they die. The cryonics companies need to remove and/or replace this water. They replace it with something called a cryoprotectant. Much like the antifreeze in an automobile. This glycerol based mixture protects your organ tissues by hindering the formation of ice crystals. This process is called vitrification and allows cells to live in a sort of suspended animation.

After the vitrification, your body is cooled with dry ice until it reaches -202 Fahrenheit. After this pre-cooling, its finally time to insert your body into the individual container that will be placed into a metal tank filled with liquid nitrogen. This will cool the body down to a temperature of around -320 degrees Fahrenheit.

The procedure isnt cheap. It can cost up to $200,000 to have your whole body preserved. For the more frugal optimist, a mere $60,000 will preserve your brain with an option known as neurosuspension. They hope the technology in the future will allow them to clone or regenerate the rest of the body.

Many critics say the companies that perform cryonics are simply ripping off customers with the dream of immortality and they wont deliver. It doesnt help that the scientists who perform cryonics say they havent successfully revived anyone, and dont expect to be able to do so anytime soon. The largest hurdle is that, if the warming process isnt done at exactly the right speed and temperature, the cells could form ice crystals and shatter.

Despite the fact that no human placed in a cryonic suspension has yet been revived, some living organisms can be, and have been, brought back from a dead or near-dead state. CPR and Defibrillators can bring accident and heart attack victims back from the dead daily.

Neurosurgeons often cool patients bodies so they can operate on aneurysms without damaging or rupturing the nearby blood vessels. Human embryos that are frozen in fertility clinics, defrosted and implanted in a mothers uterus grow into perfectly normal human beings. Some frogs and other amphibians have a protein manufactured by their cells that act as a natural antifreeze which can protect them if theyre frozen completely solid.

Cryobiologists are hopeful that nanotechnology will make revival possible someday. Nanotechnology can use microscopic machines to manipulate single atoms to build or repair virtually anything, including human cells and tissues. They hope one day, nanotechnology will repair not only the cellular damage caused by the freezing process, but also the damage caused by aging and disease.

Some cryobiologists have predicted that the first cryonic revival might occur as early as year 2045.

Read more here:
Can A Human Be Frozen And Brought Back To Life? - Zidbits

This AI Company Offers Cryogenic Freezing With Its Health Plan – Motherboard

Since congressional Republicans voted in a bill containing the Trump administration's roll back of the Affordable Care Act, healthcare is once again a topic on everyone's lips. In the absence of any universal healthcare scheme, employer-provided medical coverage is a crucial benefit for employees, tempting people to stay at jobs they might otherwise have left, or apply for positions they wouldn't otherwise consider.

In the contest to attract new hires, tech companies often supplement already generous salaries with comprehensive benefit packages, and in this vein one company has hit on a novel idea: A health plan that covers its employees beyond death and into the realms of a speculative future rebirth.

Last week Numerai, an AI-driven hedge fund that invests based on models submitted by its anonymous data scientists , announced that it would be giving all its employees the chance to be cryogenically frozen in the event of death and resuscitated at some point in the future. The unusual statement was made in a tweet on Tuesday from founder Richard Craib, with a link to a job posting for a software engineer in which "whole-body preservation cryonics" is listed as a benefit offered.

In a phone call with Motherboard, Craib explained that the idea came from his own personal membership of cryonics provider Alcor, whose services will now be extended to Numerai employees too.

"If you want to have a chance of living much, much longer, then whether cryonics gives a five percent chance or a ten percent chance, it's still very good value for money," Craib said. "When I realized you could do it through a life insurance policy, then you're only paying a few hundred dollars a month for the chance of eternal life."

According to the founder, employees at Numerai had expressed interest and curiosity at Craib's own decision to be cryonically frozen in the event of his death, and after first joking about the idea of offering it to his staff on a startup podcast (discussion from the 1h15 mark) he decided to make it a reality. As far as new hiring goes, he also hopes the unconventional offer will "attract interesting people" to the company.

In practical terms, Numerai takes out an employee life insurance policyin this case provided by Transamericathat will cover cryonic storage, ensuring that on death an employee's body is delivered to Alcor and frozen, to be reanimated at such a future time as medical technology can undo the fatal damage. (A blurb on the Alcor site reads: "Revival of today's cryonics patients will require future repair by highly advanced future technology, such as molecular nanotechnology. Technology that is advanced enough to repair a cryopreserved brain would by its nature also be able to regrow new tissues, organs, and a healthy body for the revived person.")

But as with most other employee medical coverage, leaving the company means an end to the benefits, and thus the loss of a shot at eternal life. Doesn't the founder see anything dystopic about the idea of an employer having control over an employee's afterlife?

"You know, that's more an indictment of other companies," Craib said. "Why doesn't the next company that they join offer cryonics, because they probably do offer healthcare. I think maybe this will start a trend where more forward thinking people will start to offer this."

Currently most Numerai employees have signed up, though Craib says that some have opted out for religious or philosophical reasons. Those who retained the coverage have the chance to join the likes of Hal Finney, computer scientist and bitcoin pioneer, whose body currently rests in the Alcor vaults. But for software engineers who are more focused on bringing new life into the world than extending their own, other Silicon Valley companies might be a better option: big players like Facebook, Apple and Google provide fertility benefits such as egg freezing and IVF as part of their health packages.

Continued here:
This AI Company Offers Cryogenic Freezing With Its Health Plan - Motherboard

What is cryonics? | Evidence-Based Cryonics

Cryonics: Using low temperatures to care for the critically ill

Introduction

In contemporary medicine terminally ill patients can be declared legally dead using two different criteria: whole brain death or cardiorespiratory arrest. Although many people would agree that a human being without any functional brain activity, or even without higher brain function, has ceased to exist as a person, not many people realize that most patients who are currently declared legally dead by cardiorespiratory criteria have not yet died as a person. Or to use conventional biomedical language, although the organism has ceased to exist as a functional, integrated whole, the neuroanatomy of the person is still intact when a patient is declared legally dead using cardiorespiratory criteria.

It might seem odd that contemporary medicine allows deliberate destruction of the properties that make us uniquely human (our capacity for consciousness) unless one considers the significant challenge of keeping a brain alive in a body that has ceased to function as an integrated whole. But what if we could put the brain on pause until a time when medical science has become advanced enough to treat the rest of the body, reverse aging, and restore the patient to health?

Metabolic Arrest

Putting the brain on pause is not as far fetched as it seems. The brain of a patient undergoing general anesthesia has ceased being conscious. But because we know that the brain that represents the person is still there in a viable body, we do not think of such a person as temporarily dead.

One step further than general anesthesia is hypothermic circulatory arrest. Some medical procedures, such as complicated neurosurgical interventions, require not only cessation of consciousness but also complete cessation of blood flow to the brain. In these cases the temperature of the patient is lowered to such a degree (16 degrees Celsius) that the brain can tolerate a period without any circulation at all. Considering the fact that parts of the human brain can become irreversibly injured after no more than five minutes without oxygen, the ability of the brain to survive for at least an hour at these temperatures without any oxygen is quite remarkable.

Again, because we know that in such cases the brain that represents the person is still there in a viable body, we do not think of such a person as temporarily dead. These examples illustrate that the medical community already recognizes and accepts the fact that a medical procedure that produces loss of consciousness, and even loss of circulation, does not constitute irreversible death.

Unfortunately, general anesthesia and hypothermic circulatory arrest cannot be used to pause the brain long enough to find a treatment for a person who has been declared legally dead by cardiorespiratory criteria. A person under general anesthesia may require tens, if not hundreds, of years of artificial circulation to keep the brain viable until medical science is able to return him to health. Leaving financial considerations aside, artificial circulation of an organ, let alone such a vulnerable organ as the brain, will produce increasing brain injury over time, and ultimately, destruction of the person.

Hypothermic circulatory arrest eliminates the need for metabolic support of the brain, but only for a limited period of time. Current research into hypothermic circulatory arrest indicates that the brain might tolerate up to 3 hours of complete circulatory arrest if the temperature is lowered close to the freezing point of water (zero degrees Celsius). This is not nearly long enough to put the brain on pause to allow the patient to reach a time where his current medical condition may be treatable. In light of these limitations, it is understandable that no serious attempts are currently being made to continue long-term care for a patient whose body has stopped functioning as an integrated organism.

But if low temperatures can extend the period that the brain can survive without circulation, much lower temperatures should be able to extend this period even further. At -196 degrees Celsius molecular activity has become so negligible that it can be said that the brain has been put on pause in the literal sense of the word. This allows the patient to be transported to a time when more advanced medical technologies are available, even if this would require hundreds of years. Advocates of human cryopreservation argue that long-term care at cryogenic temperatures offers a rational alternative to the current practice of burial and cremation of persons no longer treatable by contemporary medicine.

Contrary to popular views of cryonics, cryonics is not about preserving dead people but about long-term care of critically ill patients. The objection that cryonics is an attempt to resuscitate dead people reflects a misunderstanding of the rationale behind cryonics. The arguments supporting human cryopreservation are not radically different than the already established arguments behind general anesthesia and hypothermic circulatory arrest; it merely introduces lower temperatures and longer care. Therefore, the difference between contemporary medicine and cryonics is quantitative, not qualitative, in nature. Likewise, the relationship between cryonics and religion is not qualitatively different than that between contemporary medicine and religion. In both cases medical technology is used to preserve life.

Vitrification But does the procedure of cooling a patient to cryogenic temperatures not cause injury in itself? Most of the human body consists of water and lowering the body below the freezing point of water will produce massive ice formation. For this reason, patients who present for cryonics are protected from ice damage by using a cryoprotective agent to reduce, or even eliminate, ice formation. Conventional extracorporeal bypass technologies are used to circulate the solution throughout the body. When enough water is replaced with the cryoprotective agent the patient is maintained at cryogenic temperatures for long-term care. Historically the cryoprotective agents that were used in cryonics are mainstream cryoprotective agents such as DMSO and glycerol. High concentrations of glycerol or DMSO can significantly reduce ice formation, but cannot eliminate it altogether.

A better alternative to conventional cryoprotection is vitrification. Vitrification offers the prospect of cooling an organ to cryogenic temperatures without ice formation. Although vitrification of pure water requires extremely high cooling rates, these cooling rates can be greatly reduced if high concentrations of cryoprotective agents and ice blockers are added. Ice blockers are synthetic variants of naturally occurring anti-freeze proteins used by hibernating animals to protect themselves from freezing injury. The vitrification agent is introduced within a so-called carrier solution which includes molecules to prevent cell swelling, support metabolism, maintain physiological pH, and prevent oxidative damage. The vitrification agent is introduced in a gradual fashion to prevent excessive volume changes in cells. During the final stages of cryoprotectant perfusion the temperature is dropped below zero degrees Celcius to protect the cells from toxicity caused by high concentrations of the vitrification agent at higher temperatures.

The current generation of vitrification agents can preserve the fine details (ultrastructure) of the brain without requiring unfeasible cooling rates. Although electrical activity has recently been demonstrated in vitrified rabbit brain slices, reversible vitrification of the human brain without loss of cellular viability is currently not possible. The current research objective, therefore, is to improve on these vitrification agents to allow for reproducible vitrification and recovery of organs with complete long-term viability. Such a breakthrough would not only lead to cryogenic organ banking for transplantation and research but would remove the most fundamental obstacle to suspended animation of humans.

Brain death and cryonics

Although a vitrified patient cannot be rewarmed and restored to health with contemporary technologies, the extremely low temperatures at which a patient is maintained permit possible resuscitation of a patient in the future without any risk of deterioration during long-term care. In this sense it compares favorably to procedures such a hypothermic circulatory arrest which allow for only a few hours to treat a patient. This not only offers the option to treat patients who cannot be treated with contemporary medical technologies, it also offers the possibility to treat medical conditions where successful resuscitation is possible but higher brain function will be lost if care is resumed at normal body temperature.

A good example of this is cardiac arrest. Patients who have suffered more than 5-7 minutes of cardiac arrest can often be resuscitated, but some of the most vulnerable cells in the brain (such as the hippocampal CA1 neurons) will die within days of the insult. There are currently no effective medical interventions or neuroprotective agents that will prevent such damage. As a result, todays medicine can restore viability to such patients, but only by losing some, or most, higher brain functions.

If one believes that the objective of medical care is not just to preserve life in the sense of integrated biological function, but also to preserve the person, then one would agree that such patients might be better served by interventions that place them under long-term care in the form of cryonics. Although there is no guarantee that such patients will be restored to full functionality in the future, the certainty of higher brain death is an alternative that many people would prefer to avoid.

Conclusion

Cryonics does not involve the freezing of dead people. Cryonics involves placing critically ill patients that cannot be treated with contemporary medical technologies in a state of long-term low temperature care to preserve the person until a time when treatments might be available. Similar to such common medical practices as general anesthesia and hypothermic circulatory arrest, cryonics does not require a fundamental paradigm shift in how conventional medicine thinks about biology, physiology, and brain function. Although current cryopreservation methods are not reversible, under ideal circumstances the fine structure that encodes a persons personality is likely to be preserved. Complete proof of reversible vitrification of human beings would be sufficient, but is not necessary, for acceptance of cryonics as a form of long-term critical care medicine. The current alternative is death; or for persons who are at risk of suffering extensive brain injury, loss of personhood.

For very old and fragile patients, meaningful resuscitation would require reversal of the aging process. Obviously, the objective of cryonics is not to resuscitate patients in a debilitated and compromised condition, but to rejuvenate the patient. Ongoing research in fields such as biogerontology, nanomedicine, and synthetic biology inspire optimism that such treatment will be available in the future. The fortunate thing for cryonics patients is that even if fundamental breakthroughs in these fields will be the result of long and painstaking research, the cold temperatures allow them time a lot of time.

Well look back on this 50 to 100 years from now well shake our heads and say, What were people thinking? They took these people who were very nearly viable, just barely dysfunctional, and they put them in an oven or buried them under the ground, when there were people who could have put them into cryopreservation. I think well look at this just as we look today at slavery, beating women, and human sacrifice, and well say, this was insane a huge tragedy. Alcor CEO Max More, Ph.D.

The first minutes after death

As currently practiced, cryonics procedures can only be started after legal death has been pronounced by a medical professional. To prevent brain injury between pronouncement of legal death and long-term care in liquid nitrogen all major cryonics organizations offer standby services to ensure that the time of circulatory arrest is minimized. In ideal circumstances the cryonics organization of which the patient is a member will deploy a standby team consisting of cryonics professionals to stabilize the patient immediately after pronouncement of legal death.

A mechanical device is used to restart blood circulation and ventilate the patient. Because the objective of this intervention is not to resuscitate but to stabilize the patient this is called cardiopulmonary support (CPS). At the same time the patient is lifted into a portable ice bath to induce hypothermia to slow metabolic rate. A number of medications are also given to support blood flow to the central organs, reverse and prevent blot clotting, restore physiological pH, prevent edema, and protect the brain from ischemic injury.

If the patient is pronounced legally dead at a remote location an additional step to this protocol is added and the patients blood is washed out and replaced with an organ preservation solution to preserve viability of the tissue during transport at low temperatures. The organ preservation solution that is currently used by cryonics organizations is similar to the cold organ preservation solutions that are used in conventional medicine (such as Viaspan) to preserve organs for transplantation.

At the cryonics organization the patients blood (or the organ preservation solution) is replaced with the vitrification agent to prevent ice formation during cooldown to liquid nitrogen temperatures for long-term care.

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What is cryonics? | Evidence-Based Cryonics

The Merger of Humans and Machines Has Already Begun – Newsweek

This article originally appeared on The Conversation.

Republished with permission fromMillenials Strike Back, the 56th edition of Griffith Review. Selected pieces consist of extracts, or long reads in which Generation Y writers address the issues that define and concern them.

The oldest surviving great work of literature tells the story of a Sumerian king,Gilgamesh, whose historical equivalent may have ruled the city of Uruk some time between 2800 and 2500 BC.

Subscribe to Newsweek from $1 per week

A hero of superhuman strength, Gilgamesh becomes instilled with existential dread after witnessing the death of his friend, and travels the Earth in search of a cure for mortality.

Twice the cure slips through his fingers and he learns the futility of fighting the common fate of man.

Merging With Machines

Transhumanism is the idea that we can transcend our biological limits, by merging with machines. The idea was popularised by the renowned technoprophetRay Kurzweil(now a director of engineering at Google), who came to public attention in the 1990s with a string of astute predictions about technology.

Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity in "The Matrix," which made her a household name. Getty Images

In his 1990 book,The Age of Intelligent Machines(MIT Press), Kurzweil predicted that a computer would beat the worlds best chess player by the year 2000. Ithappened in 1997.

He also foresaw the explosive growth of the internet, along with the advent of wearable technology, drone warfare and the automated translation of language. Kurzweilsmost famous prediction is what he callsthe singularitythe emergence of an artificial super-intelligence, triggering runaway technological growthwhich he foresees happening somewhere around 2045.

In some sense, the merger of humans and machines has already begun. Bionic implants, such as thecochlear implant, use electrical impulses orchestrated by computer chips to communicate with the brain, and so restore lost senses.

AtSt Vincents Hospitaland theUniversity of Melbourne, my colleagues are developing other ways to tap into neuronal activity, thereby giving people natural control of a robotic hand.

These cases involve sending simple signals between a piece of hardware and the brain. To truly merge minds and machines, however, we need some way to send thoughts and memories.

In 2011, scientists at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles took the first step towards this when theyimplanted rats with a computer chipthat worked as a kind of external hard drive for the brain.

First the rats learned a particular skill, pulling a sequence of levers to gain a reward. The silicon implant listened in as that new memory was encoded in the brains hippocampus region, and recorded the pattern of electrical signals it detected.

Next the rats were induced to forget the skill, by giving them a drug that impaired the hippocampus. The silicon implant then took over, firing a bunch of electrical signals to mimic the pattern it had recorded during training.

Amazingly, the rats remembered the skill the electrical signals from the chip were essentially replaying the memory, in a crude version of that scene in The Matrix where Keanu Reeves learns (downloads) kung-fu.

Again, the potential roadblock: the brain may be more different from a computer than people such as Kurzweil appreciate. AsNicolas Rougier, a computer scientist at Inria (the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation),argues, the brain itself needs the complex sensory input of the body in order to function properly.

Separate the brain from that input and things start to go awry pretty quickly. Hence sensory deprivation is used as a form of torture. Even if artificial intelligence is achieved, that does not mean our brains will be able to integrate with it.

Whatever happens at the singularity (if it ever occurs), Kurzweil, now aged 68, wants to be around to see it. HisFantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever(Rodale Books, 2004) is a guidebook for extending life in the hope of seeing the longevity revolution. In it he details his dietary practices, and outlines some of the 200 supplements he takes daily.

Failing that, he has a plan B.

Freezing Death

The central idea of cryonics is to preserve the body after death in the hope that, one day, future civilisations will have the ability (and the desire) to reanimate the dead.

Both Kurzweil and de Grey, along with about 1,500 others (including, apparently, Britney Spears), aresigned up to be cryopreservedbyAlcor Life Extension Foundationin Arizona.

Offhand, the idea seems crackpot. Even in daily experience, you know that freezing changes stuff: you can tell a strawberry thats been frozen. Taste, and especially texture, change unmistakably. The problem is that when the strawberry cells freeze, they fill with ice crystals. The ice rips them apart, essentially turning them to mush.

Thats why Alcor dont freeze you; they turn you to glass.

After you die, your body is drained of blood and replaced with a special cryogenic mixture of antifreeze and preservatives. When cooled, the liquid turns to a glassy state, but without forming dangerous crystals.

You are placed in a giant thermos flask of liquid nitrogen and cooled to -196, cold enough to effectively stop biological time. There you can stay without changing, for a year or a century, until science discovers the cure for whatever caused your demise.

People dont understand cryonics, says Alcor president Max More in a YouTube tour of his facility. They think its this strange thing we do to dead people, rather than understanding it really is an extension of emergency medicine.

The idea may not be as crackpot as it sounds. Similar cryopreservation techniques are already being used to preserve human embryos used in fertility treatments.

There are people walking around today who have been cryopreserved, More continues. They were just embryos at the time.

One proof of concept, of sorts,was reportedby cryogenics expert Greg Fahy of21st Century Medicine(a privately funded cryonics research lab) in 2009.

Fahys team removed a rabbit kidney, vitrified it, and reimplanted into the rabbit as its only working kidney. Amazingly, the rabbit survived, if only for nine days.

More recently, a new technique developed by Fahy enabled the perfect preservation of a rabbit brain though vitrification and storage at -196. After rewarming, advanced 3D imaging revealed that the rabbits connectomethat is, the connections between neuronswas undisturbed.

Unfortunately, the chemicals used for the new technique are toxic, but the work does raise the hope of some future method that may achieve the same degree of preservation with more friendly substances.

That said, preserving structure does not necessarily preserve function. Our thoughts and memories are not just coded in the physical connections between neurons, but also in the strength of those connectionscoded somehow in the folding of proteins.

Thats why the most remarkable cryonics work to date may be that performed at Alcor in 2015, when scientists managed to glassify a tiny worm for two weeks, and thenreturn it to life with its memory intact.

Now, while the worm has only 302 neurons, you have more than 100 billion, and while the worm has 5,000 neuron-to-neuron connections you have at least 100 trillion. So theres some way to go, but theres certainly hope.

In Australia, a new not-for-profit,Southern Cryonics, is planning to open the first cryonics facility in the Southern Hemisphere.

Eventually, medicine will be able to keep people healthy indefinitely, Southern Cryonics spokesperson and secretary Matt Fisher tells me in a phonecall.

I want to see the other side of that transition. I want to live in a world where everyone can be healthy for as long as they want. And I want everyone I know and care about to have that opportunity as well.

To get Southern Cryonics off the ground, ten founding members have each put in A$50,000, entitling them to a cryonic preservation for themselves or a person of their choice. Given that the company is not-for-profit, Fisher has no financial incentive to campaign for it. He simply believes in it.

Id really like to see [cryonic preservation] become the most common choice for internment across Australia, he says.

Fisher admits there is no proof yet that cryopreservation works. The question is not about what is possible today, he says. Its about what may be possible in the future.

Cathal D. O'Connell is the Centre Manager, BioFab3D (St Vincent's Hospital), University of Melbourne.

Excerpt from:
The Merger of Humans and Machines Has Already Begun - Newsweek

Startup Promises Immortality Through AI, Nanotechnology, and Cloning – Big Think

One of the things humans have plotted for centuries is escaping death, with little to show for it, until now. One startup called Humai has a plan to make immortality a reality. The CEO, Josh Bocanegra says when the time comes and all the necessary advancements are in place, well be able to freeze your brain, create a new, artificial body, repair any damage to your brain, and transfer it into your new body. This process could then be repeated in perpetuity.

HUMAI stands for: Human Resurrection through Artificial Intelligence. The technology to accomplish this isnt here now, but on the horizon. Bocanegra says theyll reach this Promethean feat within 30 years. 2045 is currently their target date. So how do they plan to do it?

The company writes on their website: We're using artificial intelligence and nanotechnology to store data of conversational styles, behavioral patterns, thought processes and information about how your body functions from the inside-out. This data will be coded into multiple sensor technologies, which will be built into an artificial body with the brain of a deceased human.

Advances in many new technologies including cryonics will be required for the plan to be successful. Getty Images.

This will be done with Humai company-developed apps. Theyll be collecting data on you for years. Over time, theyll get a good model of who you are, what you know, what youve been through, and even your personality quirks. Then when the inevitable is upon you, cryonics will freeze your brain for storage while they prepare your artificial body.

How and of what the body will be made of hasnt been elaborated on. Your brain will be thawed and any damage repaired via nanotechnology, borrowing information from backup files, if need be. As the brain ages we'll use nanotechnology to repair and improve cells, Bocanegra said. Cloning technology is going to help with this too." Once your brain is transplanted into this new body, your brainwaves will control it, as if it was your own.

Futurists like Ray Kurzweil say the singularity will shortly be upon us. This is when AI becomes so advanced, that it can program itself to become better, smarter, faster, and therefore, beyond human control. Elon Musk says well need to create neural implants thatll link our brains with computers, in order to keep up.

We already have AI thats so advanced, researchers dont completely understand it. But this plan and Musks go beyond aligning us with technology. They ultimately seek to interweave us and advanced technology, to the point where we may not know where the person ends and the machine begins.

We can now hook the brain up to prosthetic limbs, even give them touch sensation. Getty Images.

This brings up all kinds of philosophical and existential questions. Are we merely data imprinted into neural networks? Will this become a service to lend immortality to the rich, while forgoing others? Bocanegra says it will be made available to everyone and should lead to other life-saving techniques and technologies. And you wouldnt have to undergo the process, if you didnt want to. I dont think of it as fighting death, he told Popular Science. I think of it as making death optional.

How might the advent of such a technique change the allocations of resources on our planet? Eliminating death from the equation could see our world become overpopulated and resource scarce, should no controls be put into place, leading to social turmoil, even war. And would we still savor life, without an end to it, and work to make it as rich an experience?

Or would we become, as Freud once called us, prosthetic gods, completely bored because the world has become devoid of any discovery or surprise? Such concerns arent quite around the corner, and many critics have questioned the soundness of Bocanegras plan and the forthrightness of his motivations.

This isnt exactly pie in the sky. But it isnt doable yet either, and some wonder whether Humais timeline is sound. For instance, we havent yet successfully placed a human in suspended animation and revived them. And thats just one piece of an exceedingly complex puzzle. According to Bocanegra in an interview with Popular Science, the most challenging part will be surgically implanting the preserved brain into an artificial body.

Other biological processes too would have to come with this new body. A lot of delicate factors would have to be understood and balanced properly. Consider that our behavior isnt only regulated by our brain. Hormones for instance play a crucial role. Colonies of bacteria in our microbiome also contribute quite a bit to our neurochemistry. Yet, we know very little about how they work.

Theres a question as to whether the human mind can be digitized. Pixababy.

Experts questions whether or not it will be possible to download someones thoughts into a computer. "The technology which could extract legible thoughts and ideas out of an organ made of living tissue is nowhere near anything we have yet, according to British software consultant Michael Maven.

He told the Huffington Post that Humai has just two researchers working on the project, and a total staff of five. An impressive source of funding and large teams of scientists would have to be employed for decades, to ensure such advancements, unless Humai is planning to piggyback on others work, or merely to collect payments from desperate parties hoping to escape their demise.

Even so, the trajectory of these technologies overall, will likely make such a feat possible in the distant future. And this isnt the only ambitious project looking to cheat death. The 2045 Initiative, started by Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov, is also looking to develop technology, which would allow someone to transfer their personality into a non-biological carrier and extend life, perhaps indefinitely.

Futurist Ray Kurzweil thinks the first step is not only possible but inevitable.

To learn more, click here:

Continue reading here:
Startup Promises Immortality Through AI, Nanotechnology, and Cloning - Big Think

Fighting the common fate of humans: to better life and beat death – Kashmir Observer

The oldest surviving great work of literature tells the story of a Sumerian king,Gilgamesh, whose historical equivalent may have ruled the city of Uruk some time between 2800 and 2500 BC.

A hero of superhuman strength, Gilgamesh becomes instilled with existential dread after witnessing the death of his friend, and travels the Earth in search of a cure for mortality.

Twice the cure slips through his fingers and he learns the futility of fighting the common fate of man.

Merging with machines

Transhumanism is the idea that we can transcend our biological limits, by merging with machines. The idea was popularised by the renowned technoprophetRay Kurzweil(now a director of engineering at Google), who came to public attention in the 1990s with a string of astute predictions about technology.

In his 1990 book,The Age of Intelligent Machines(MIT Press), Kurzweil predicted that a computer would beat the worlds best chess player by the year 2000. Ithappened in 1997.

He also foresaw the explosive growth of the internet, along with the advent of wearable technology, drone warfare and the automated translation of language. Kurzweilsmost famous prediction is what he callsthe singularity the emergence of an artificial super-intelligence, triggering runaway technological growth which he foresees happening somewhere around 2045.

In some sense, the merger of humans and machines has already begun. Bionic implants, such as thecochlear implant, use electrical impulses orchestrated by computer chips to communicate with the brain, and so restore lost senses.

AtSt Vincents Hospitaland theUniversity of Melbourne, my colleagues are developing other ways to tap into neuronal activity, thereby giving people natural control of a robotic hand.

These cases involve sending simple signals between a piece of hardware and the brain. To truly merge minds and machines, however, we need some way to send thoughts and memories.

In 2011, scientists at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles took the first step towards this when theyimplanted rats with a computer chipthat worked as a kind of external hard drive for the brain.

First the rats learned a particular skill, pulling a sequence of levers to gain a reward. The silicon implant listened in as that new memory was encoded in the brains hippocampus region, and recorded the pattern of electrical signals it detected.

Next the rats were induced to forget the skill, by giving them a drug that impaired the hippocampus. The silicon implant then took over, firing a bunch of electrical signals to mimic the pattern it had recorded during training.

Amazingly, the rats remembered the skill the electrical signals from the chip were essentially replaying the memory, in a crude version of that scene in The Matrix where Keanu Reeves learns (downloads) kung-fu.

Again, the potential roadblock: the brain may be more different from a computer than people such as Kurzweil appreciate. AsNicolas Rougier, a computer scientist at Inria (the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation),argues, the brain itself needs the complex sensory input of the body in order to function properly.

Separate the brain from that input and things start to go awry pretty quickly. Hence sensory deprivation is used as a form of torture. Even if artificial intelligence is achieved, that does not mean our brains will be able to integrate with it.

Whatever happens at the singularity (if it ever occurs), Kurzweil, now aged 68, wants to be around to see it. HisFantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever(Rodale Books, 2004) is a guidebook for extending life in the hope of seeing the longevity revolution. In it he details his dietary practices, and outlines some of the 200 supplements he takes daily.

Failing that, he has a plan B.

Freezing death

The central idea of cryonics is to preserve the body after death in the hope that, one day, future civilisations will have the ability (and the desire) to reanimate the dead.

Both Kurzweil and de Grey, along with about 1,500 others (including, apparently, Britney Spears), aresigned up to be cryopreservedbyAlcor Life Extension Foundationin Arizona.

Offhand, the idea seems crackpot. Even in daily experience, you know that freezing changes stuff: you can tell a strawberry thats been frozen. Taste, and especially texture, change unmistakably. The problem is that when the strawberry cells freeze, they fill with ice crystals. The ice rips them apart, essentially turning them to mush.

Thats why Alcor dont freeze you; they turn you to glass.

After you die, your body is drained of blood and replaced with a special cryogenic mixture of antifreeze and preservatives. When cooled, the liquid turns to a glassy state, but without forming dangerous crystals.

You are placed in a giant thermos flask of liquid nitrogen and cooled to -196, cold enough to effectively stop biological time. There you can stay without changing, for a year or a century, until science discovers the cure for whatever caused your demise.

People dont understand cryonics, says Alcor president Max More in a YouTube tour of his facility. They think its this strange thing we do to dead people, rather than understanding it really is an extension of emergency medicine.

The idea may not be as crackpot as it sounds. Similar cryopreservation techniques are already being used to preserve human embryos used in fertility treatments.

There are people walking around today who have been cryopreserved, More continues. They were just embryos at the time.

One proof of concept, of sorts,was reportedby cryogenics expert Greg Fahy of21st Century Medicine(a privately funded cryonics research lab) in 2009.

Fahys team removed a rabbit kidney, vitrified it, and reimplanted into the rabbit as its only working kidney. Amazingly, the rabbit survived, if only for nine days.

More recently, a new technique developed by Fahy enabled the perfect preservation of a rabbit brain though vitrification and storage at -196. After rewarming, advanced 3D imaging revealed that the rabbits connectome that is, the connections between neurons was undisturbed.

Unfortunately, the chemicals used for the new technique are toxic, but the work does raise the hope of some future method that may achieve the same degree of preservation with more friendly substances.

That said, preserving structure does not necessarily preserve function. Our thoughts and memories are not just coded in the physical connections between neurons, but also in the strength of those connections coded somehow in the folding of proteins.

Thats why the most remarkable cryonics work to date may be that performed at Alcor in 2015, when scientists managed to glassify a tiny worm for two weeks, and thenreturn it to life with its memory intact.

Now, while the worm has only 302 neurons, you have more than 100 billion, and while the worm has 5,000 neuron-to-neuron connections you have at least 100 trillion. So theres some way to go, but theres certainly hope.

In Australia, a new not-for-profit,Southern Cryonics, is planning to open the first cryonics facility in the Southern Hemisphere.

Eventually, medicine will be able to keep people healthy indefinitely, Southern Cryonics spokesperson and secretary Matt Fisher tells me in a phonecall.

I want to see the other side of that transition. I want to live in a world where everyone can be healthy for as long as they want. And I want everyone I know and care about to have that opportunity as well.

To get Southern Cryonics off the ground, ten founding members have each put in A$50,000, entitling them to a cryonic preservation for themselves or a person of their choice. Given that the company is not-for-profit, Fisher has no financial incentive to campaign for it. He simply believes in it.

Id really like to see [cryonic preservation] become the most common choice for internment across Australia, he says.

Fisher admits there is no proof yet that cryopreservation works. The question is not about what is possible today, he says. Its about what may be possible in the future.

The Article First Appeared In The Conversation

Read the original post:
Fighting the common fate of humans: to better life and beat death - Kashmir Observer

Hypothermia, shivering and cryonics | Evidence-Based Cryonics

The objective of cryonics stabilization is to arrest metabolism of the patient so that he can be preserved indefinitely until resuscitation and rejuvenation technologies are available. Induction of hypothermia is the principal method employed in cryonics to reduce metabolism, thereby slowing down the rate of all chemical reactions in the body, including the ischemia-induced cellular cascades leading to cell injury and eventual post-mortem decay. Consequently, in order to mitigate ischemic damage that occurs at initially high post-mortem body temperatures, hypothermia is induced in cryonics patients as rapidly as possible after pronouncement of legal death.

While several factors limit achievable surface cooling rates (e.g., ratio of body mass to surface area, subcutaneous fat thickness, and current technological capabilities for cooling in the field), an often overlooked and less understood limitation arises from the normal physiological mechanism of thermoregulation, or the bodys own attempt to maintain physiological temperature.

Core temperature in humans is normally kept within a range of 36.5 37.5 degrees Celcius, known as the interthreshold range. Compensatory mechanisms are triggered when core temperature rises above or falls below this range.

Thermoregulatory processes during cold defense fall broadly into two categories: heat conservation and heat production. The body conserves heat by regulating skin blood flow (cutaneous vasoconstriction) and by piloerection (i.e., erection of the hair on the skin). The body also produces heat via two mechanisms: shivering thermogenesis (skeletal muscle activity) and non-shivering thermogenesis (increased heart rate and brown adipose tissue sympathetic nerve activity). Of these, shivering presents the largest obstacle to metabolism reduction and temperature management. The hypothalamic region of the brain plays an important part in shivering by integrating temperature input from the body and controlling efferent responses to temperature variations.

Therapeutic hypothermia, such as used to manage patients with acute cerebral injury, is known to cause shivering, which can make rapid induction of hypothermia impractical. Rapid and effective induction and maintenance of therapeutic hypothermia requires that shivering is inhibited. Several pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions have been evaluated for their efficacy in shivering inhibition.

In a recent (2007) paper, Mahmood and Zweifler review the various treatments for shivering inhibition. Their review includes discussions of several drug classes, including anesthetics, opioids, 2 agonists, 5-HT uptake inhibitors, 5-HT agonists/antagonists, cholinomimetics, and NMDA antagonists, as well as physiologic maneuvers and skin surface warming.

General anesthesia impairs thermoregulation and can increase the interthreshold range up to 4.0 degrees Celcius. Mahmood and Zweifler report that both classes of anesthetics, thermogenesis inhibitors (i.e., volatile anesthetics) and thermogenesis non-inhibitors (nonvolatile anesthetics), reduce the shivering threshold proportional to the vasoconstriction threshold in a dose-dependent manner. Propofol, in particular, markedly impairs the vasoconstriction and shivering thresholds. Propofol is the current anesthetic of choice in cryonics to reduce cerebral metabolism and prevent return to consciousness during stabilization procedures.

Opioids are peptides that can effect changes in body temperature, generally by stimulating formation of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), which increases thermosensitivity in neurons. The authors report that meperidine is unique among opioids due to its special antishivering effect, decreasing the shivering threshold by almost twice as much as the vasoconstriction threshold. Because of its effectiveness, meperidine has played an important part in many protocols of therapeutic hypothermia. Disadvantages include respiratory suppression, nausea/vomiting, and potential induction of seizures with prolonged administration all of which are arguably non-important to cryonics patients. Fentanyl and butorphanol have also been shown to be effective antishivering agents, though more research into these agents is necessary.

Clonidine is an 2 agonist that lowers the threshold for cutaneous vasoconstriction and shivering and has been widely investigated for its antishivering benefit. In trials directly comparing clonidine with meperidine for prevention of postoperative shivering, 89% of patients in clonidine groups did not shiver, while 85% of meperidine groups did not shiver.

5-HT is reported to impact thermoregulatory responses through its action on different sites in the hypothalamus, midbrain, and medulla. The authors note that these actions appear to be site and species specific and it is likely the balance between the modulatory 5-HT and norepinephrine inputs that is important for short and long-term thermoregulatory control of the shivering threshold. Studies have shown that 5-HT uptake inhibitors such as tramadol and nefopam, both analgesics, have antishivering properties comparable to those of clonidine. Additionally, the 5-HT1A partial agonist busprione acts synergistically with meperidine in reducing the shivering threshold.

The cholinomimetic drug physostigmine has been shown to be as effective in controlling postanesthetic shivering as meperidine and clonidine, and more effective than mefopam, though its mechanism remains unknown. Magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) is effective in postanesthetic shivering control, is a neuroprotectant, and has also been shown to increase cooling rate during surface cooling. However, it only modestly reduces the shivering threshold. The NMDA antagonist ketamine has also been shown to be equivalent to meperidine in prevention of postoperative shivering.

Another agent that reduces the threshold for shivering is dantrolene, although dantrolene produces relatively little central thermoregulatory inhibition. Dantrolene is also interesting as a neuroprotective agent because it inhibits excitotoxicity-induced calcium release from the endoplasmic reticulum. Dantrolene further enhances the action of CNS depressants through its effects on GABA receptors. However, conflicting observations about its blood brain barrier permeability exist.

The authors also report the apparent effectiveness of physiologic maneuvers such as breath holding, muscle relaxation, exercise, upright posture, and mental arithmetic on shivering inhibition. Obviously, such maneuvers are not practical for cryonics patients, who are not conscious. Skin surface warming, especially focal facial warming, is also reported to facilitate therapeutic hypothermia by lowering the shivering threshold in some studies but failed to produce clinically significant shivering inhibition in other studies.

Many other pharmaceutical agents have been tested for antishivering properties, though the majority of these drugs have been evaluated in the peri-operative setting because induction of hypothermia and shivering are perceived to be undesirable in postoperative recovery. Pharmacologic inhibition of shivering for therapeutic hypothermia has been largely neglected as an area of study, therefore data specific to the achievement of this goal remain limited.

There are currently no specific agents in cryonics stabilization protocol to inhibit shivering. There are no case reports that document shivering in a cryonics patient, although it is a possibility that the lack of shivering in cryonics patients is the consequence of rapid administration of general anesthetics such as propofol. Other possible explanations for the absence of shivering in cryonics patients include old age impairment of thermoregulation, the long terminal and agonal phase that most cryonics patients experience, and the adverse effects of circulatory arrest, ischemia, and hypoperfusion on thermoregulation.

In the past metocurine has been administered in cryonics to inhibit shivering. Neuromuscular blockers, however, are not recommended for treating cryonics patients because of the risk of criminal prosecution. Because it is questionable that most post-mortem cryonics patients have a properly functioning hypothalamus that registers the temperature drop induced by hypothermia, specific antishivering agents may be redundant, especially in light of the fact that the first medication typically given at the start of cryonics procedures, propofol, has a mitigating effect on shivering as well.

Excerpt from:
Hypothermia, shivering and cryonics | Evidence-Based Cryonics

The Creepy, Insane, and Undeniably Romantic World of Cryonics – VICE

I'd expected to hear a lot of convincing arguments that would persuade me to sign up to have my body cryogenically frozen when I die, but proving that I'm more rational than Paris Hilton wasn't one of them.

"About ten years ago there was a rumor going around that she had signed up to have her body preserved, so my colleagues and I worried that perhaps Paris Hilton was more rational than us," says Anders Sandberg, a research fellow with the University of Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute. Sandberg is an expert on human "enhancement" who himself is signed up to be frozen one day.

On one level, of course, doing anything because Paris Hilton pressured you into it is a really bad idea, Sandberg admits. "But we humans are emotional beings, so the fact that some of our Oxford academic pride was wounded really did spurn us to bite the bullet."

As insane, or perhaps creepy, as it sounds, hundreds of people in the US are 'frozen,' stored in stainless steel chambers at a cozy -196C in liquid nitrogen. Their cases are checked daily while they're kept "in stasis," as cryonic believers call it, waiting until new medical technologies can cure or repair whatever ailed them, whether it be a heart attack, dementia, or perhaps even cancer. At the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale Arizona, 150 "patients" are frozen in time, and another 996 have signed up for the same fate.

The Cryonics Institute in Clinton township, Michigan holds a similar number150 humans, plus more than 100 pets. "Maybe the idea of reviving people who are cryogenically frozen sounds far-fetched, but in my field, you know that you can bring back the dead all the time," says Dennis Kowalski, a director at the Cyronics Institute who works as a paramedic by day. "I've been able to take a lot of what I learned from emergency medicine and integrate it into cryonics. You don't need to reinvent the wheel. Death is a process, and we simply slow that process down. I like to say that we provide the ambulance to the hospital of the future."

Moreover, Sandberg points out, there are thousandsif not millionsof people alive today who were once frozen sperm or egg cells, or frozen embryos. "In a sense, those people were cryonically frozen, and yet they are today alive," he says. Moving up in size, scientists demonstrated last year that embryonic rabbit kidneys could be frozen, thawed, and grown into full-sized and fully functional organs, capable of transplant into living animals.

In the wild, Canadian wood frogs annually freeze solid, thanks to special proteins in their blood that act as a natural antifreeze and prevent the formation of ice crystals that would cause cell damageso it is theoretically possible for an entire body to be kept below freezing temperature and later revived. Cryonisists have already been replicating this strategy for decades: All preserved bodies are not technically "frozen," because all the blood is drained out the moment they legally die, and slowly replaced with a biological antifreeze (along with a cocktail of more than a dozen different drugs) that perfuses into the body and prevents ice crystals from forming and damaging cells. Hence why a body that would be a toasty 32C can be kept at -196C potentially indefinitely. But sperm, eggs, kidneys, and frogs are one thing. What about that most human of organs, the brain? There's no point in being revived if your memories, knowledge, and personality don't come with you.

Read the full story at Tonic.

Originally posted here:
The Creepy, Insane, and Undeniably Romantic World of Cryonics - VICE

Fighting the common fate of humans: to better life and beat | Cosmos – Cosmos

Can technology help us to beat death?

ANDRZEJ WOJCICKI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/GETTY

The oldest surviving great work of literature tells the story of a Sumerian king, Gilgamesh, whose historical equivalent may have ruled the city of Uruk some time between 2800 and 2500 BC.

A hero of superhuman strength, Gilgamesh becomes instilled with existential dread after witnessing the death of his friend, and travels the Earth in search of a cure for mortality.

Twice the cure slips through his fingers and he learns the futility of fighting the common fate of man.

Transhumanism is the idea that we can transcend our biological limits, by merging with machines. The idea was popularised by the renowned technoprophet Ray Kurzweil (now a director of engineering at Google), who came to public attention in the 1990s with a string of astute predictions about technology.

In his 1990 book, The Age of Intelligent Machines (MIT Press), Kurzweil predicted that a computer would beat the worlds best chess player by the year 2000. It happened in 1997.

He also foresaw the explosive growth of the internet, along with the advent of wearable technology, drone warfare and the automated translation of language. Kurzweils most famous prediction is what he calls the singularity the emergence of an artificial super-intelligence, triggering runaway technological growth which he foresees happening somewhere around 2045.

In some sense, the merger of humans and machines has already begun. Bionic implants, such as the cochlear implant, use electrical impulses orchestrated by computer chips to communicate with the brain, and so restore lost senses.

At St Vincents Hospital and the University of Melbourne, my colleagues are developing other ways to tap into neuronal activity, thereby giving people natural control of a robotic hand.

These cases involve sending simple signals between a piece of hardware and the brain. To truly merge minds and machines, however, we need some way to send thoughts and memories.

In 2011, scientists at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles took the first step towards this when they implanted rats with a computer chip that worked as a kind of external hard drive for the brain.

First the rats learned a particular skill, pulling a sequence of levers to gain a reward. The silicon implant listened in as that new memory was encoded in the brains hippocampus region, and recorded the pattern of electrical signals it detected.

Next the rats were induced to forget the skill, by giving them a drug that impaired the hippocampus. The silicon implant then took over, firing a bunch of electrical signals to mimic the pattern it had recorded during training.

Amazingly, the rats remembered the skill the electrical signals from the chip were essentially replaying the memory, in a crude version of that scene in The Matrix where Keanu Reeves learns (downloads) kung-fu.

Again, the potential roadblock: the brain may be more different from a computer than people such as Kurzweil appreciate. As Nicolas Rougier, a computer scientist at Inria (the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation), argues, the brain itself needs the complex sensory input of the body in order to function properly.

Separate the brain from that input and things start to go awry pretty quickly. Hence sensory deprivation is used as a form of torture. Even if artificial intelligence is achieved, that does not mean our brains will be able to integrate with it.

Whatever happens at the singularity (if it ever occurs), Kurzweil, now aged 68, wants to be around to see it. His Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever (Rodale Books, 2004) is a guidebook for extending life in the hope of seeing the longevity revolution. In it he details his dietary practices, and outlines some of the 200 supplements he takes daily.

Failing that, he has a plan B.

The central idea of cryonics is to preserve the body after death in the hope that, one day, future civilisations will have the ability (and the desire) to reanimate the dead.

Both Kurzweil and de Grey, along with about 1,500 others (including, apparently, Britney Spears), are signed up to be cryopreserved by Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona.

Offhand, the idea seems crackpot. Even in daily experience, you know that freezing changes stuff: you can tell a strawberry thats been frozen. Taste, and especially texture, change unmistakably. The problem is that when the strawberry cells freeze, they fill with ice crystals. The ice rips them apart, essentially turning them to mush.

Thats why Alcor dont freeze you; they turn you to glass.

After you die, your body is drained of blood and replaced with a special cryogenic mixture of antifreeze and preservatives. When cooled, the liquid turns to a glassy state, but without forming dangerous crystals.

You are placed in a giant thermos flask of liquid nitrogen and cooled to -196, cold enough to effectively stop biological time. There you can stay without changing, for a year or a century, until science discovers the cure for whatever caused your demise.

People dont understand cryonics, says Alcor president Max More in a YouTube tour of his facility. They think its this strange thing we do to dead people, rather than understanding it really is an extension of emergency medicine.

The idea may not be as crackpot as it sounds. Similar cryopreservation techniques are already being used to preserve human embryos used in fertility treatments.

There are people walking around today who have been cryopreserved, More continues. They were just embryos at the time.

One proof of concept, of sorts, was reported by cryogenics expert Greg Fahy of 21st Century Medicine (a privately funded cryonics research lab) in 2009.

Fahys team removed a rabbit kidney, vitrified it, and reimplanted into the rabbit as its only working kidney. Amazingly, the rabbit survived, if only for nine days.

More recently, a new technique developed by Fahy enabled the perfect preservation of a rabbit brain though vitrification and storage at -196. After rewarming, advanced 3D imaging revealed that the rabbits connectome that is, the connections between neurons was undisturbed.

Unfortunately, the chemicals used for the new technique are toxic, but the work does raise the hope of some future method that may achieve the same degree of preservation with more friendly substances.

That said, preserving structure does not necessarily preserve function. Our thoughts and memories are not just coded in the physical connections between neurons, but also in the strength of those connections coded somehow in the folding of proteins.

Thats why the most remarkable cryonics work to date may be that performed at Alcor in 2015, when scientists managed to glassify a tiny worm for two weeks, and then return it to life with its memory intact.

Now, while the worm has only 302 neurons, you have more than 100 billion, and while the worm has 5,000 neuron-to-neuron connections you have at least 100 trillion. So theres some way to go, but theres certainly hope.

In Australia, a new not-for-profit, Southern Cryonics, is planning to open the first cryonics facility in the Southern Hemisphere.

Eventually, medicine will be able to keep people healthy indefinitely, Southern Cryonics spokesperson and secretary Matt Fisher tells me in a phonecall.

I want to see the other side of that transition. I want to live in a world where everyone can be healthy for as long as they want. And I want everyone I know and care about to have that opportunity as well.

To get Southern Cryonics off the ground, ten founding members have each put in A$50,000, entitling them to a cryonic preservation for themselves or a person of their choice. Given that the company is not-for-profit, Fisher has no financial incentive to campaign for it. He simply believes in it.

Id really like to see [cryonic preservation] become the most common choice for internment across Australia, he says.

Fisher admits there is no proof yet that cryopreservation works. The question is not about what is possible today, he says. Its about what may be possible in the future.

Cathal D. O'Connell, Centre Manager, BioFab3D (St Vincent's Hospital), University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation and republished here with permission. Read the original article.

This piece is republished with permission from Millenials Strike Back, the 56th edition of Griffith Review. Selected pieces consist of extracts, or long reads in which Generation Y writers address the issues that define and concern them.

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Fighting the common fate of humans: to better life and beat | Cosmos - Cosmos

Out of his mind surgeon plans human head transplant, revival of frozen brain – Ars Technica

Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero will undertake the first human head transplant later this year in China, the doctor told German magazineOoomin an article published Thursday. And, following that effort, he will revive a cryogenically frozen brain and transplant it into a donor body within the next three years.

The plans, completely disconnected from reality and the state of modern medicine, are at least in line with his previous outlandish goals and dubious animal research.

Canavero made headlines in the past few years by claiming that transplanting the whole head of a human onto a donor body is currently possible. A Russian man, suffering from a spinal muscular atrophy malady called Werdnig-Hoffmann Disease, even publicly volunteered for the procedure.

As proof that the transplant could work, Canavero published gruesome experiments in 2016, said to have repaired the severely injured spinal cords of mice, rats, and a dog. The experiments came complete with cringe-worthy video of recovering animals struggling to drag their limp bodies around. Yet, the study lacked controls, detailed methods, and data on the injuries and recoveries. Canavero claimed to perform a head transplant on a monkey but did not publish the experiment.

Mouse limping after experimental spinal cord repair.

Sergio Canavero giving a TEDX talk.

Sergio Canavero with his Chinese partner, Dr. Xiaoping Ren, who will lead the operation team onsite during an attempted head transplant procedure.

Experts decidedly consider his research on spinal cord repair, let alone whole head transplants, unconvincing. A medical ethicist dubbed Canavero out of his mind for sweeping past the currently insurmountable challenges of such feats. These include intricately repairing and reattaching thousands of delicate nerves and restoring function. Right now, doctors cant even convince the immune system to accept far simpler transplants consistently. Theres also the completely unknown effects of such a transplant on the powerful human psyche.

Canavero is carrying on, undeterred it seems. In his Ooom interview, he not only glided through the idea of successfully transplanting a head, he made an even more absurd claim: that he would revive a cryogenically frozen brain and transplant it into a donor body. Canavero said he would obtain a preserved brain from Alcor Life Extension Foundation, a cryonics company located in Scottsdale, Arizona, according to Gizmodo.

There is currently no way to revive and molecularly repair a frozen human brain. And such transplants havent even been attempted in animals. Thus, the surgical procedure is decades if not centuries away.

As Gizmodo also reports, Alcor said that Canavera hadnt even contacted the company. It distanced itself from the doctor, as did other cryonics leaders, and noted that his efforts are not realistic or even a shared goal.

In a statement, the company said:

The Alcor Life Extension has had no contact with Dr. Canavero. It is not yet possible to revive human brains cryopreserved with present methods. Revival of todays cryonics patients will require future repair by highly advanced future technology, such as molecular nanotechnology. Technology that is advanced enough to repair a cryopreserved brain would by its nature also be able to regrow new tissues, organs, and a healthy body for the revived person. Therefore Alcor does not expect body donations or transplants to ever be necessary for revival of cryonics patients. Until advanced tissue regeneration technology is developed, we wish Dr. Canavero well in his development of body transplant surgery for living patients today who might benefit.

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Out of his mind surgeon plans human head transplant, revival of frozen brain - Ars Technica

17 Spine-Tingling New Books For Fans Of Dystopia – Huffington Post

The end of 2016 brought with it a spike in classic dystopian book sales. George Orwells Nineteen Eighty-Four and Margaret Atwoods The Handmaids Tale which will be released as a Hulu show this month eachpiqued the interest of book buyers, who mightve drawn uncomfortable parallels between the stories and the world around them.

These books, of course, are not the only dystopian titles resonating with readers. The science fiction subgenre has enjoyed a long period of popularity thanks to YA installments like The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner and The 100, each with its own onscreen offshoot.

There are those in the sci-fi genre who are tired of dystopias proliferation; there are, after all, many ways to speculate about the future, and not all of them need be pessimistic. Still, as the subgenre grows, its capacity for holding a mirror to todays problems climate change, stringent definitions of gender, and discrimination based on race or gender or nationality persists.

If you still see the worth in dystopian stories for social change or for entertainment value there are, luckily, loads to choose from. Climate-fiction, or cli-fi, has emerged as a sub-subgenre of dystopian fiction, with authors like Lidia Yuknavitch and Jeff VanderMeer both of whom have upcoming film adaptations leading the charge. Other titles explore cryonics, religion, gender and more.

Weve included a few were excited about below. Just note that our definition of dystopia is a broad one; any vision of the future that could go awry qualifies.

Knopf

1. American War by Omar El Akkad

Fought amid a changing climate, Americas second Civil War lasting nearly 20 years was fought with homicide bombings and drones. An academic born during this period remembers the story of a girl who lived through it.

47north

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In a town outside of Estiel what was once St. Louis a girl named Etta fulfills her duties as a forager, but must venture to face a tyrant called Lion when women from her community are kidnapped.

HarperCollins

Lidia Yukanavitch is skilled at writing poetically about the human body, and about nature, so this book her first foray into science fiction makes sense. Its a retelling of the story of Joan of Arc, but in a world ravaged by radiation, and with few land-based survivors.

FSG

Rachel and Wick live in a city destroyed by drought and terrorized by a giant bear, doing what they can to prioritize their survival until Rachel finds Borne, a plant-animal shes immediately attached to.

Orbit

When two coders go missing, an entire future society is at risk. Robinsons work may not be squarely dystopian, but he has a knack for drawing imagined worlds and their societal problems. In his latest,rising tides leave New York partly submerged.

FSG

If the future of the ever-growing tech industry has a physical home, its San Fransisco, where Masons novel is set. Life extension, artificial memory and rising waters converge in a sprawling future epic.

Torcom

Kir has been asked to join a project working towards the possibility of humans inhabiting another planet a project designed to give Earthlings, living on a planet thats overcrowded and climate change-wrecked, a chance at survival. Will her brain wired for optimism be able to heed the warnings of the artificial intelligence she hosts?

Small Beer Press

Sofia Samatars stories are more fantasy than sci-fi, and shes more likely to chronicle an alternate or parallel reality than a possible future. Her story How to Get Back to the Forest earned a spot among the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories 2015.

Weidenfeld Nicolson

Lallas father plans to escape the increasingly dangerous world of future-Britain via ship, but the boat turns out to be eerily different than expected.

Dutton Books

What if the world were living in now was the dystopian version of some happier, more progressive alternate reality?Thats the premise of Elan Mastais debut, which is centered around protagonist Tom, who has to make a tough choice between a thrumming, messy world or a neat and perfect one.

Harper Voyager

On the surface, Elianas life is a pleasant one. She lives on an idyllic island where she works as a weaver, but she is forced to hide the fact that shes capable of dreaming, lest she be cast out. The cracks in her perfect world begin to show when a young girl washes up on the shore, bearing a tattoo of Elianas name.

Scribner

Jeffs father, Ross, has always been somewhat absent from his life; hes a billionaire and hes happily remarried. But when Rosss second wife Artis gets sick, he invites his son to visit him at a mysterious cryogenics facility, where pseudo-science meets spiritual practice.

Tor Books

Patricias a witch. Laurence is a tech wunderkind. Their star-crossed relationship is a love story for the 21st century, where spirituality and intuition are at odds with scientific advancements.

Bloomsbury

Eddie and Lauras suburban life devolves amid an ecological disaster, one that forces them each to reconsider what it is that they cherish most.

Amethyst Editions

The world, it turns out, is ending. That doesnt stop Michelle from dating, from writing, from relocating to a new city to distance herself from her drug-addled past, or from proceeding more or less as normal, except that now, the apocalypse looms.

Two Dollar Radio

For Ellingsen, the personal is political. His storys hero, Brandon, retreats to the wilderness after his professor and lover makes him commit an act of violence. From there, he fosters hope for a future threatened by rising temperatures and the attendant damage done to the environment.

Tor Books

Near-future sci-fi may be all the rage; it would seem that its more capable of shedding new light on present dangers, anyway. But Palmers novel set in the 25th century, when societys perceptions of gender and religion have morphed considerably gives those stories a run for their money.

Originally posted here:
17 Spine-Tingling New Books For Fans Of Dystopia - Huffington Post

The technologist’s stone – The Stanford Daily

A peculiar kind of cognitive dissonance grips most people who talk about death. On one hand, death is awful: It is the most tragic fate that can befall somebody, murderers are the lowest of the low, and the death of a loved one, even an elderly loved one who has lived a long life, clogs us with sadness.

On the other hand, any intimation that we might wish to, I dont know, abolish death is met with deep suspicion. Everyones time comes eventually, I have been told. Or: Itd be unnatural any other way. Even: But would you really want to live forever?

Yes, actually. Yes I would. I have wanted to live forever for as long as I can remember. My instinctive response when asked why is, well, why not? Life is a self-evident good to me. Justifying that seems absurd dont you like happiness? And love? And experiencing things? Dont you like being alive? Peoples tendency to reply, Well yes, but and trail off, looking vaguely concerned for my mental wellbeing, continues to mystify me.

Like large swathes of secular ethics, I suspect that this hesitancy is, in some sense, a hangover from Christianity. Christians, of course, might reasonably shun the idea of earthly immortality, but the basic impulse underlying Christianitys doctrine of life and death that one must endure an imperfect and pious life on Earth before rejoicing in the eternity of the empyrean is the same one that motivates me. I just have less faith that death brings anything other than an ineffable and everlasting nothingness.

Immortality is no longer, however, as niche an aspiration as it was even five, ten years ago. Tad Friend recently published a (highly recommended) piece in The New Yorker that documents the recent anti-aging buzz that has overcome Silicon Valley. Iconoclastic tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel, ever ahead of the zeitgeist, wrote in 2009 that he stand[s] against the ideology of the inevitability of the death of every individual.

Since then, a steadily growing number of futurists have become interested in abolishing aging in one form or another. Donald Trump considered appointing Jim ONeill, a man who considers aging a disease to be overcome, to head the FDA, before, disappointingly, settling on the more establishment, Big Pharma-friendly Scott Gottlieb. Cryonics (freezing ones corpse in the hope that future technology may breathe life into it anew), once dismissed as mere science fiction, has slowly but surely gained popularity among Silicon Valleys elite. Futurist and AI researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky, a man unafraid of polemical positions (he once argued on utilitarian grounds that a single person being tortured for fifty years was preferable to a sufficiently large number of people getting dust specks in their eyes), wrote in a post on the website Less Wrong that If you dont sign up your kids for cryonics then you are a lousy parent. Thinking about cryonics reminds me of an H.P. Lovecraft line from the fictional text The Necronomicon, an esoteric book filled with secrets so vast in their cosmic implications that readers are sent insane merely by reading it. One of the few lines that Lovecraft reveals from the book goes like so: That is not dead which can eternal lie,/And with strange aeons even death may die. Strange aeons indeed, but perhaps ones not so far away.

I find this exhilarating. The world especially outside of Silicon Valley is starved of the kind of grand projects that can inspire a nation. Something like the space race would be nigh-unthinkable today (just ask Newt Gingrich). Even political projects like the New Deal or the Great Society, whatever you think of their outcomes, had an idealistic flavor to them that neither side of mainstream politics except, arguably, parts of Trumpism and Sanders-esque social democracy is really willing to embrace anymore. The prospect of seizing a truly fundamental part of human destiny the inevitability of death and forging it into a shape that befits our will is intoxicating in its grandiosity.

I think that one day the idea that death was so readily embraced, and that there was resistance against a project to eliminate it, will be incomprehensible to people. Life, and as much life as possible, will simply be taken for granted as a wonderful thing. Perhaps thats naive of me.

Tell you what, if Im still wrong in a thousand years, Ill write an apology column.

Contact Sam Wolfe at swolfe2 at stanford.edu.

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The technologist's stone - The Stanford Daily

Who on earth wants to live forever with the people who want to live forever? – Spectator.co.uk

Are you a deathist? A deathist is someone who accepts the fact of death, who thinks the ongoing massacre of us all by ageing is not a scandal. A deathist even insists that death is valuable: that the only thing that gives life meaning is the fact that it ends an idea not necessarily embraced by someone about to be murdered on video by an Isis fanatic.

But what is the alternative? There has never been one, which is why until recently no one needed to coin the term deathist. But now many tech entrepreneurs and scientists take a different view: death, they say, is simply an engineering challenge. Biotechnology should, in principle, be able to reverse the wear-and-tear on cellular machinery in our bodies and keep us in our prime indefinitely, barring violent accident. Consider how many lives this would save. If you think such research should not be pursued, then you are a throwback, a deathist, a morose Luddite thanatophile.

Anti-deathism is one of the main strands of a set of sci-fi dreams that come under the umbrella term transhumanism, the subject of the Irish literary critic Mark OConnells engaging tour. He visits a cryonics facility in the desert outside Phoenix, where customers have paid to have their whole bodies or just their heads (called, Greekly, cephalons in the facilitys distancing jargon) preserved by freezing, in the hope that science will one day figure out how to revive them. He goes to a robotics fair where the audience gasps at humanoid robots that can operate door handles or egress successfully from a car. He hangs out with a gang of grinder cyborgs, that like to implant boxes of electronics under their skin in order to, say, be able to sense the presence of an electromagnetic field. He interviews people working on the idea of uploading human minds to computers, and those like the philosopher Nick Bostrom who fear that one day soon they, and we, might be killed by an omnipotent artificial intelligence of our own creation.

This is all related in a sort of wryly melancholy version of gonzo narrative non-fiction, structured in the simple What I Did Next For My Research style. Think a more overtly erudite version of Jon Ronson. As with that writer, you do occasionally feel that OConnell is expending energy on a less interesting figure simply because they provide so much freakish colour. Some of his transhumanist subjects are pitiful (the virginal man who looks forward to sexbots) but others for instance, the American scientist Laura Deming, who focuses on life extension research are extremely intelligent and persuasive. Overall, the book is thoughtful, modestly unsure of its own opinion, and often disarmingly funny. (Cryogenically frozen brains are left in their skulls, OConnell explains, because technically, it is kind of a hassle to remove the thing entirely.)

The author is especially alert to the assumptions encoded within tech-utopian rhetoric for example, the habit of saying that we should solve death:

The word solve seemed to me to encapsulate the Silicon Valley ideology whereby all of life could neatly be divided into problems and solutions solutions that always took the form of some or other application of technology.

And the very prefix trans- in the word transhumanism expresses, for some, a forlorn desire for spiritual transcendence of mere meat. As one cyborg tinkerer explains to the author:

Ask anyone whos transgender. Theyll tell you theyre trapped in the wrong body. But me, Im trapped in the wrong body because Im trapped in a body. All bodies are the wrong body.

The apparent paradox, then, is that so many transhumanists, while bent on defeating or solving death, also seem rather, well, misanthropic. To be transhumanist is on some level also to be anti-humanist: people tell OConnell what contemptible monkeys current humans are, how disgusting it is that they are doing all this breeding, and how theyd rather be machine-based consciousnesses exploring the vastness of space. But when it comes down to it, you might think there is not all that much to distinguish this, as a consummation devoutly to be wished, from good old-fashioned death.

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Who on earth wants to live forever with the people who want to live forever? - Spectator.co.uk

Brains on ice: The Aussie man planning to live forever – Northern Star

When Philip Rhoades' parents died he put their brains on ice. Journalist SHERELE MOODY finds out what he plans to do with his own body after death.

IN an ideal world, Philip Rhoades will die peacefully and pain-free, his body will be put on ice and he will be brought back to life in a time when illness does not exist and people live forever.

And when he does come back, the cryonics expert will have his deceased mum and dad for company.

After Gerald and Dorothy Rhoades died in May of 2016, Philip placed their brains in a commercial cryogenic facility - the kind that stores animal semen for artificial insemination and human eggs for IVF.

Philip froze his parents' brains because it only costs about $35,000 to keep each organ for perpetuity compared to $200,000 each to have their bodies frozen, transported and stored in cryonics facilities overseas.

"The key thing is being able to download the information in the brain," Philip said of keeping his mum and dad's neurological remains on ice.

"In the case of a neural archive, we're not concerned about reviving the body's cells, we're concerned with the neural architecture that has the information in it.

"It's likely that we will be able to in the next 10 or 20 years be able to extract that information with high-resolution brain scans.

"We'd then dump the information into a super computer."

When a cryonics candidate dies, a team of medical experts prepares them for transport to a storage facility by stabilising their body, packing it with ice, lacing the blood with an anti-coagulant and feeding oxygen to the brain.

When the body arrives at its final destination the blood is drained and the water in the cells is replaced by a liquid "anti-freeze" that ensures the organs and tissues do not shatter when ice crystals form during the freezing process.

The body is then cooled by dry ice to minus 130 degrees before being placed in a protective body bag and lowered, head first, into a metal tank filled with liquid nitrogen that is kept at minus 196 degrees.

Bodies are stored upside down to ensure the brains are the last thing to thaw if the tank leaks.

While Philip could only afford to freeze his parents' brains, he hopes to have his entire body put on ice for re-animation "as soon as possible" but he acknowledged he could be waiting around for quite a while.

"Trying to revive a whole human being is a difficult operation," he said of the process that some scientists say won't work because of the damage extreme temperatures cause to human cells.

"If you're getting a cryonic suspension then the intention is that modern scientific technology will allow the body to be thawed out, completely revived and rejuvenated so you look like you're 25 and you feel like you're 25 again.

"Life is too short - it shouldn't be three score and 10 years, it should be thousands of years."

Philip hopes he does not get Alzheimer's disease like his father had in the years before he died.

If he does end up with the same illness, Philip is considering what he calls "pre-mortal suspension" before the dementia renders him unable to make his own decisions.

His plan is to end his own life while connected to machinery that will prepare his body for the cryonics process.

Philip is currently working on a way to remove the need for human intervention when he dies and the process of initiating the cryonic state because of the potential legal implications for anyone seen to be assisting in his death.

"It will involve technology that will drain my blood, undertake the automatic perfusion and all of that," Philip said.

- ARM NEWSDESK

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Brains on ice: The Aussie man planning to live forever - Northern Star

John Gray: Dear Google, please solve death – New Statesman

Dead of the world, unite! Appearing in a manifesto published in Petrograd in 1920, this arresting slogan encapsulated the philosophy of cosmism, which promoted interplanetary exploration as a path to immortality. Mixing scientific futurism with ideas derived from the 19th-century Russian Orthodox mystic Nikolai Fedorov, cosmism was summed up by the rocket engineer Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857-1935) as the perfection of man and the liquidation of all imperfect forms of life. Liberated from the Earth, human beings would become pure ether, bodiless and undying. The belief that death could be conquered by science was embraced by a renegade section of the Bolshevik intelligentsia, including Maxim Gorky, and informed the decision to immortalise Lenins cadaver first by refrigeration, in an early experiment in what would later be called cryonic suspension, and then by embalming when freezing failed. Cosmist thinking went on to find a home in the Soviet space programme and continues to influence Russian science to this day.

Nearly a century after the cosmist manifesto, a group of transhumanists gathered outside Googles corporate headquarters in Mountain View, California, carrying placards reading Immortality now! and Google, please, solve death. Death could be solved, the group believed, by the development of cyber-consciousness a task requiring new technologies for uploading the contents of the human brain into cyberspace, which the group called on the tech company to fund. Google was already investing substantial resources in life-extension techniques and, in 2012, the companyhired Ray Kurzweil, long associated with programmes aiming to achieve immortality through cryonic suspension, artificial intelligence and mind uploading, as its director of engineering.

History continues by being forgotten. Mark OConnell, in recalling the February 2014 demonstration outside Google HQ, reported as the first ever transhumanist street action in the US, says little about the longer antecedents of contemporary transhumanism in his engaging and at times very funny book. This is an exploration of our time, conducted by an observer who is very much of our time. OConnell presents the reader with a gallery of diverting characters, including an Oxford-educated extropian philosopher who goes by the name of Max More, who aims to achieve more life, more intelligence, more freedom by replacing the human body with a robot controlled by an uploaded mind, and Zoltan Istvan, the transhumanist candidate for the US presidency in 2016, who conducted his campaign from an immortality bus decked out as a coffin.

The weird mixture of science and religion that typifies much of contemporary culture is illustrated in questing, faintly sad figures who blend transhumanist anti-deathism with Buddhism, Mormonism, Wicca or the UFO cult Ralism, whose members believe the human species was created by aliens. We learn of the LSD guru Timothy Learys late-life engagement with transhumanism, which included membership of the cryonic suspension organisation Alcor, and that when the time came for him to have his body frozen, he opted instead to have his cremated ashes shot into space from a cannon. OConnell reports that Learys last act is still a sore point within the cryonics community, which views his capitulation to deathism as a significant tragedy.

OConnells impressions of the lost souls who have drifted into transhumanism arevivid and memorable. Yet he sees them from a distance that is never explained. Like many of the people he interviews, he seems to think that a report of his feelings is all that is needed to validate his beliefs and hisdoubts. He cites transhumanists expressing disgust with the process of ageing, in themselves and in others, and he tells usthat he is not a transhumanist. But he never gives any reasons why he rejects their attitudes, nor does he offer an alternative view of his own.

The book is a succession of vignettes in which fundamental questions about the transhumanist enterprise are not explored. If the bodies of the followers of the cult are retrieved from their icy tombs, will the dead be reborn, or will what emerges be clones of human beings who had died for ever? Is information uploaded from the brain into cyberspace the essence of the human mind, or only a dim ghost of a mind that no longer exists? Is being embodied an accidental feature of the mind, or an integral part of what it means to be human?

Discussing A Letter to Mother Nature, a transhumanist manifesto in which Max More sets out his proposals for amending the human species, OConnell summarises the authors proposals:

We would no longer consent to live under the tyranny of ageing and death, but would use the tools of biotechnology to endow ourselves with enduring vitality and remove our expiration date. We would augment our powers of perception and cognition through technological enhancements of our sense organs and our neural capacities. We would no longer submit to being the products of blind evolution . . . And we would no longer be content to limit our physical, intellectual and emotional capacities by remaining confined to carbon-based biological forms.

OConnell writes that the letter captured something crucial about what made the movement so strange and compelling to me it was direct, and audacious, and it pushed the project of Enlightenment humanism to such radical extremes . . . There was, I felt, a whiff of madness about the whole enterprise, but it was a madness that revealed something fundamental about what we thought of as reason.

As a description of the simple-minded devotion of transhumanists to an unexamined idea of reason, this is well observed. But what is the something fundamental that the author has learned? He considers the possibility that transhumanism is a displaced passion for miracle and mystery, citing D H Lawrence: Today man gets his sense of the miraculous from science and machinery, radio, airplanes, vast ships, zeppelins, poison gas, artificial silk: these things nourish mans sense of the miraculous as magic did in the past. But if Lawrences observation is well founded (as I think), what follows for the idea that human beings are or could ever be rational animals? These are questions that OConnell does not ask, or leaves hanging in the air.

Read as a kind of travelogue, To Be a Machine contains much that is interesting and entertaining. OConnell perceptively observes how transhumanism fits with Silicon Valleys world-view. He describes a conference at Google HQ, attended by the billionaire entrepreneurs Peter Thiel and Elon Musk, which brought together those who want to liberate themselves from death and exponents of effective altruism, who aim to improve the world by using reason. There are some intriguing crossovers between the two movements.

Philosophically speaking, effective altruism is not much more than a reheated version of Jeremy Benthams utilitarianism. The early-19th-century thinker wanted to supplant ethical reasoning as it had been practised in the past with what he called moral arithmetic a type of calculation aiming at maximising pleasure, happiness or want-satisfaction (there are many variations). Implying that every moral quandary has a rational solution, this is a project that fits well with the transhumanist belief thatthe evils of human life are, in essence, technical difficulties.

The idea that moral reasoning should be a type of calculation seems to have influenced Thiel and Musk when they donated to research on the risks of artificial intelligence. Some of those who attended the conference (including the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom, a former transhumanist who has become critical of the movement) believed that AI could even pose a risk to human survival. A super-intelligent machine could be programmed to serve human beings. But, as Bostrom, Stephen Hawking and others have pointed out, such a machine might slip free from its programming and begin topursue ends of its own that have nothing to do with human well-being.

Such an artificial super-intelligence need not be hostile to humans; it could simply be indifferent to whether humankind survives or not. Investing large sums into research that might prevent the disappearance of humankind might seem the most rational way of allocating resources more so than spending money helping people deal with disability, for instance. But why is reducing a hypothetical risk to the species more rational than increasing the happiness of living human beings? Utilitarian moral arithmetic prompts this question along with many others in ethics.

Both transhumanism and effective altruism claim to be rationalist philosophies and the two movements have offices in the same building in Oxford. But, like effective altruism, transhumanism is not as rational as it seems. Transhumanists believe that we are in essence sparks of consciousness which can escape mortality by detaching themselves from the decaying flesh in which they happen to be embodied. Deriving from mystical philosophies such as Platonism and gnosticism, it is an idea at odds with scientific materialism.

For a genuine materialist say, the ancient Roman poet-philosopher Lucretius there can be no question of the human mind severing its linkage with the material world. The mind is material and dies when the body dies. Transhumanists will reply that technologies not available in Lucretiuss time will allow the mind to be uploaded into cyberspace. Yet it is unclear whether what will be uploaded will be a conscious mind, or just a spectral app spun off from the contents of the brain.

Even if consciousness can be detached from the human body, the mind will still require a substratum of matter. The rejuvenated cadavers that emerge from cryonic suspension will be physical things, as will the cyborgs to which some transhumanists imagine their minds being transferred. Minds floating in cyberspace would not escape this dependency. Cyberspace is an artefact of physical objects computers and the networked facilities they need not an ontologically separate reality. If the material basis of cyberspace were destroyed or severely disrupted, any minds that had been uploaded would be snuffed out.

Every technology requires a physical infrastructure in order to operate. But this infrastructure depends on social institutions, which are frequently subject to breakdown. I made this point when I bumped into some ardent advocates of cryonic suspension in California in the 1980s. How long would it take to develop the technologies that were needed to resurrect frozen cadavers as living organisms, I wondered. Not much more than a century, I was told. I asked these techno-futurists to consider the events of the past hundred years or so a devastating civil war and two world wars, a ruinous stock-market crash and the Great Depression, for example. Given this history, how could they be confident that their refrigerated cadavers would remain intact for anothercentury? The companies that stored them would surely go bust, wars and civil disturbances would lead to power failures, and the legal system that protected the cadavers could disappear. The United States might no longer exist in a recognisable form.The cryonicists looked at me blankly. These were scenarios that they hadnot considered and could not process. Such upheavals might have happened in the past,but the future was going to be quite different. For these believers in technological resurrection, American society was already immortal.

At bottom, the transhumanist movement is a modern variant of the mystical dream of transcending contingency the vulnerability that comes with being subject to accident and the power of events that possessed many in ancient times. These mystics wanted to be absorbed in a timeless, impersonal absolute, a refuge from the ugly conflicts of the human world. They understood that this refuge could only be entered if they shed their individuality and practised asceticism and contemplation in an effort to erase their personal identity and desires. Less intelligent than their ancient precursors, contemporary transhumanists imagine that they can become immortal on terms of their own choosing.

Pondering a conversation he had with one of the techno-mystics, OConnell worries that only the extremely wealthy could afford to be uploaded to a virtual world. The rest of us would have to struggle on, bombarded by messages from cyberspace trying to sell us some product for which we have become targets through our use of the internet. But, to my mind, the super-wealthy few would not be much better off.

The greatest problem with everlasting lifein cyberspace is the prospect that it would have to be spent in the company of other cyber-immortals. As Max More and some of his fellow transhumanists have envisioned, each of these disembodied minds might design its virtual body and environments as it pleased. But might not these virtual environments somehow overlap or collide? Cyberspace is a projection of the human world, not a way out of it. What if the few who had escaped their ageing flesh found themselves side by side with an immortalised Donald Trump, his orange hair undyingly abundant, presiding over a never-ending Mar-a-Lago? It is not for nothing that the gods in some Greek myths regarded immortality as a curse.

Mark OConnell appears at the Cambridge Literary Festival on 23 April, 7pm (see left)

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John Gray: Dear Google, please solve death - New Statesman

Brains on ice: The Aussie man planning to live forever – Mackay Daily Mercury

When Philip Rhoades' parents died he put their brains on ice. Journalist SHERELE MOODY finds out what he plans to do with his own body after death.

IN an ideal world, Philip Rhoades will die peacefully and pain-free, his body will be put on ice and he will be brought back to life in a time when illness does not exist and people live forever.

And when he does come back, the cryonics expert will have his deceased mum and dad for company.

After Gerald and Dorothy Rhoades died in May of 2016, Philip placed their brains in a commercial cryogenic facility - the kind that stores animal semen for artificial insemination and human eggs for IVF.

Philip froze his parents' brains because it only costs about $35,000 to keep each organ for perpetuity compared to $200,000 each to have their bodies frozen, transported and stored in cryonics facilities overseas.

"The key thing is being able to download the information in the brain," Philip said of keeping his mum and dad's neurological remains on ice.

"In the case of a neural archive, we're not concerned about reviving the body's cells, we're concerned with the neural architecture that has the information in it.

"It's likely that we will be able to in the next 10 or 20 years be able to extract that information with high-resolution brain scans.

"We'd then dump the information into a super computer."

When a cryonics candidate dies, a team of medical experts prepares them for transport to a storage facility by stabilising their body, packing it with ice, lacing the blood with an anti-coagulant and feeding oxygen to the brain.

When the body arrives at its final destination the blood is drained and the water in the cells is replaced by a liquid "anti-freeze" that ensures the organs and tissues do not shatter when ice crystals form during the freezing process.

The body is then cooled by dry ice to minus 130 degrees before being placed in a protective body bag and lowered, head first, into a metal tank filled with liquid nitrogen that is kept at minus 196 degrees.

Bodies are stored upside down to ensure the brains are the last thing to thaw if the tank leaks.

While Philip could only afford to freeze his parents' brains, he hopes to have his entire body put on ice for re-animation "as soon as possible" but he acknowledged he could be waiting around for quite a while.

"Trying to revive a whole human being is a difficult operation," he said of the process that some scientists say won't work because of the damage extreme temperatures cause to human cells.

"If you're getting a cryonic suspension then the intention is that modern scientific technology will allow the body to be thawed out, completely revived and rejuvenated so you look like you're 25 and you feel like you're 25 again.

"Life is too short - it shouldn't be three score and 10 years, it should be thousands of years."

Philip hopes he does not get Alzheimer's disease like his father had in the years before he died.

If he does end up with the same illness, Philip is considering what he calls "pre-mortal suspension" before the dementia renders him unable to make his own decisions.

His plan is to end his own life while connected to machinery that will prepare his body for the cryonics process.

Philip is currently working on a way to remove the need for human intervention when he dies and the process of initiating the cryonic state because of the potential legal implications for anyone seen to be assisting in his death.

"It will involve technology that will drain my blood, undertake the automatic perfusion and all of that," Philip said.

- ARM NEWSDESK

Go here to read the rest:
Brains on ice: The Aussie man planning to live forever - Mackay Daily Mercury

Brains on ice: The Aussie man planning to live forever – Warwick Daily News

When Philip Rhoades' parents died he put their brains on ice. Journalist SHERELE MOODY finds out what he plans to do with his own body after death.

IN an ideal world, Philip Rhoades will die peacefully and pain-free, his body will be put on ice and he will be brought back to life in a time when illness does not exist and people live forever.

And when he does come back, the cryonics expert will have his deceased mum and dad for company.

After Gerald and Dorothy Rhoades died in May of 2016, Philip placed their brains in a commercial cryogenic facility - the kind that stores animal semen for artificial insemination and human eggs for IVF.

Philip froze his parents' brains because it only costs about $35,000 to keep each organ for perpetuity compared to $200,000 each to have their bodies frozen, transported and stored in cryonics facilities overseas.

"The key thing is being able to download the information in the brain," Philip said of keeping his mum and dad's neurological remains on ice.

"In the case of a neural archive, we're not concerned about reviving the body's cells, we're concerned with the neural architecture that has the information in it.

"It's likely that we will be able to in the next 10 or 20 years be able to extract that information with high-resolution brain scans.

"We'd then dump the information into a super computer."

When a cryonics candidate dies, a team of medical experts prepares them for transport to a storage facility by stabilising their body, packing it with ice, lacing the blood with an anti-coagulant and feeding oxygen to the brain.

When the body arrives at its final destination the blood is drained and the water in the cells is replaced by a liquid "anti-freeze" that ensures the organs and tissues do not shatter when ice crystals form during the freezing process.

The body is then cooled by dry ice to minus 130 degrees before being placed in a protective body bag and lowered, head first, into a metal tank filled with liquid nitrogen that is kept at minus 196 degrees.

Bodies are stored upside down to ensure the brains are the last thing to thaw if the tank leaks.

While Philip could only afford to freeze his parents' brains, he hopes to have his entire body put on ice for re-animation "as soon as possible" but he acknowledged he could be waiting around for quite a while.

"Trying to revive a whole human being is a difficult operation," he said of the process that some scientists say won't work because of the damage extreme temperatures cause to human cells.

"If you're getting a cryonic suspension then the intention is that modern scientific technology will allow the body to be thawed out, completely revived and rejuvenated so you look like you're 25 and you feel like you're 25 again.

"Life is too short - it shouldn't be three score and 10 years, it should be thousands of years."

Philip hopes he does not get Alzheimer's disease like his father had in the years before he died.

If he does end up with the same illness, Philip is considering what he calls "pre-mortal suspension" before the dementia renders him unable to make his own decisions.

His plan is to end his own life while connected to machinery that will prepare his body for the cryonics process.

Philip is currently working on a way to remove the need for human intervention when he dies and the process of initiating the cryonic state because of the potential legal implications for anyone seen to be assisting in his death.

"It will involve technology that will drain my blood, undertake the automatic perfusion and all of that," Philip said.

- ARM NEWSDESK

See the article here:
Brains on ice: The Aussie man planning to live forever - Warwick Daily News

Why Are We So Obsessed With the End of the World? – New York Times


New York Times
Why Are We So Obsessed With the End of the World?
New York Times
Last year, Don DeLillo published an exemplary preapocalyptic novel, Zero K, narrated by the son of a billionaire who's sunk his hopes, his fortune, his wife and himself into cryonic storage beneath the Central Asian steppes. Cryonics has for decades ...

Excerpt from:
Why Are We So Obsessed With the End of the World? - New York Times

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