Cryonics is the science and business of the low-temperature preservation of the body and brain upon clinical death. By preserving the fine structure of the brain, you preserve the data stored within - the mind itself. Cryopreserved individuals can then wait for as long as needed for technologies to advance to the point at which they can be restored to active life. Typically, this is envisaged to involve molecular manufacturing and medical nanorobots capable of cellular repair - none of which is impossible under our present understanding of the laws of physics.
But the vitrified waiting part of the equation requires the cryonics community to continue and expand from generation to generation. From this community are drawn the (presently few) professionals in the cryonics field, financial support for operations, and other necessities for running a cryonics provider as a long-term business. Those older folk who presently support cryonics expect to be cryopreserved, and their legacy protected by younger supporters - which means that all the normal advocacy and community engineering undertaken in any successful field of human endeavor are especially important here.
This noted, I see there are two reports published online in recent days from members of the community who attended a meeting of younger cryonics supporters and advocates, held earlier this month in Florida. That is the home state of the Life Extension Foundation; the founders of that organization have long supported the cryonics community, both financially and otherwise.
The event was funded by Bill Faloon and the Life Extension Foundation. Cairn Idun, creator and coordinator of the Asset Preservation Group, created and coordinated this event as well. Although the Asset Preservation Group was created to devise means of protecting the assets of cryonicists during cryostasis, the group has expanded its concerns to many related issues, including nurturing future generations of cryonics activists to replace the current generation of aging cryonics activists.
Overall I am very enthusiastic with how the weekend went. I made many valuable connections, as did most (if not all) of the others, I believe. It also lifted my spirits, which I also believe was a common experience. Bill Faloon wants to make this an annual event.
The young cryonicists' travel was subsidized. I suspect this led to a greatly different selection filter than usually prevails at conferences of what Robin Hanson would call "contrarians". At an ordinary conference of transhumanists - or libertarians, or atheists - you get activists who want to meet their own kind, strongly enough to pay conference fees and travel expenses. This conference was just young people who took the action of signing up for cryonics, and who were willing to spend a couple of paid days in Florida meeting older cryonicists.
Those young cryonicists weren't heroes. Most of the older cryonicists were heroes, and of course there were a couple of other heroes among us young folk, like a former employee of [Methuselah Foundation] who'd left to try to put together a startup/nonprofit around a bright idea he'd had for curing cancer (note: even I think this is an acceptable excuse). But most of the younger cryonicists weren't there to fight a desperate battle against Death, they were people who'd signed up for cryonics because it was the obvious thing to do.
And it tears my heart out, because I am a hero and this was like seeing a ray of sunlight from a normal world, some alternate Everett branch of humanity where things really were normal instead of crazy all the goddamned time, a world that was everything this world could be and isn't.
You know what? I'm going to come out and say it. I've been unsure about saying it, but after attending this event, and talking to the perfectly ordinary parents who signed their kids up for cryonics like the goddamn sane people do, I'm going to come out and say it: If you don't sign up your kids for cryonics then you are a lousy parent.
This sort of event sounds like something worth making an institution in the community. Cryonics has a long way to go to become mainstream, but every step is a step closer. So many, many lives will be lost between now and the advent of working rejuvenation medicine - and the methodology presently exists to save those lives though cryonics. Most people are not aware of it or interested in it, however, and cryonics provision needs to be scaled up to handle the masses. Scaling is a trivial problem compared to convincing people that a viable workaround to death exists; as soon as there is desire for a product, there will be competition and development.
As pointed out above, we do not live in a particularly sane world. We could argue that the fact that cryonics is a fringe movement with a working way to evade death shows that most people don't much care about evading death, and certainly don't much care about helping others to evade death - at the very least during those parts of their lives where they are active and healthy enough to be doing something about it.