Interview With Joe Waynick, Alcor CEO

The Immortality Institute film project - a wide-ranging series of interviews with members of the healthy life extension community - is progressing well. I'm sorry to say that I missed my interview opportunity with Bruce Klein for the silliest of organizational errors on my part, but we will hopefully get that done the next time he is in the neighborhood.

The latest sample of work to date is a video interview with Joe Waynick, the CEO of Alcor, the well-known cryonics provider. Waynick has been instrumental in steering Alcor towards a much more professional, growth-oriented culture - I've said before that I believe this sort of change is essential for the cryonics industry. The industry serves a very necessary purpose:

Death is not a topic that people like to think about, and that is just as true of healthy life extension advocates as anyone else. We have to recognise, however, that the future of healthy life extension (regenerative medicine, stem cell therapies, understanding the biochemical processes of aging, and nanomedicine, to name a few fields) will not arrive soon enough to benefit everyone. Many people are too old, or suffer from other conditions that will kill them before cures can be developed. This is an unpleasant reality that we must face.

Do we just write these people off and forge ahead regardless? Of course not. Instead, we turn to the science and business of cryonics, a serious effort to solve this problem that has been underway since the early 1970s.

Cryonics is the only option for life extension open to many older and seriously ill people: those who cannot wait for the promised therapies of the next few decades. It is the science of placing humans and animals into a low-temperature, biologically unchanging state immediately after clinical death, with the expectation that advances in medical technology may eventually enable full restoration to life and health. A small industry of cryonics providers exists to freeze your body on death, in the hopes that future scientists (most likely using nanotechnology and nanomedicine) will be able to revive and repair you.

In order to serve this purpose for everyone who might want to take advantage of it in the future, however, cryonics must become much more progressional, grow, legitimize and publicize itself. This is not to demean the sterling efforts of many volunteers over the years, but for real growth, cryonics must move beyond volunteerism and amateurs - no matter how dedicated and skilled they might be. We can hope that this process is underway.


The problem with cryonics is that as of yet, does not have a real "product" to sell. In order to have a real product, effective neuropreservation must be developed. Effective neuropreservation means that there is no freezing damage done to the brain during the cryopreservation process and that the neurological structure is intact. This is most likely to be realized through vitrification, which has been developed by 21st Century Medicine.

If effective neuropreservation is developed and the neurostructure is shown to be intact in EM scans, I think cryonics will receive wider acceptance among the baby boomers. If the brain is shown to be intact, it is not a far stretch of the imagination to see that some kind of stem cell regenerative process could be used to regenerate the body for revival in the future.

Posted by: Kurt at December 19th, 2004 9:02 PM

Agreed; one of the reasons I was happy to see the Suspended Animation Inc. effort last year (which doesn't seem to be going anywhere too fast yet, alas) was the promise of sensible spin-off technologies. Spin-offs, productization and diversification are an essential part of the process and have yet to happen for cryonics.

Posted by: Reason at December 19th, 2004 9:48 PM
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