Examining a Few Legal Aspects of Organizing Your Own Cryopreservation

As I've noted in the past, one of the challenges that faces present day cryonics as an industry is that it requires a measure of proactive organization and ongoing effort on the part of customers. You can't just sign up for cryopreservation, pay your monthly dues, and let matters coast along unattended - not if you want things to go smoothly when the service is needed. All sorts of obstacles, both organizational and bureaucratic, can rear their ugly heads: arranging your own cryopreservation is less a matter of agreeing to go to a party than it is a matter of agreeing to be the host and organizer of a party.

This, of course, greatly reduces the range of people who are willing to sign up for cryonics - no-one likes inconvenience, and there's a certain irrationality when it comes to using (or avoiding) inconvenient services that may save your life one day. There is, I think, an opportunity here for some service provider to emerge and offer a more managed cryonics membership, in which these issues are are smoothed away in return for a higher membership cost. But perhaps that lies ahead, in a future in which the cryonics industry grows much larger than it is today.

But back to the challenges: many of them are legal in nature, or involve the intruding hand of local government. For example, a coroner may wish to conduct an autopsy, which will certainly spoil the chance of a successful cryopreservation. Working through the legal niceties to ensure that the local coroner's office cannot do this is one amongst many line items that must be addressed - and addressed well, as it's not as though you will be up and able to talk your way through any problems that happen at the time. But here are a couple of recent articles that address some of these legal issues:

Medico-Legal Aspects of Human Cryopreservation Optimization

One aspect of cryonics optimization planning that has received little attention to date is to develop legal strategies to deal with medical and legal issues surrounding one's death, terminal illness, and the dying phase. In this memo I will outline some of the most important medical and medico-legal issues, how cryonicists could benefit from recognizing them, and suggest some legal and practical solutions.

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It has become clear that in the case of many topics we would all benefit from uniform and effective language. The next step is to translate the concerns discussed in this document in clear legal language so that templates can be offered to all members of cryonics organizations to draft their own Living Will and Advance Directives. One potential problem of such a general template is that it may not conform to state regulations and needs additional tweaking to make it valid in the state where the person lives.

Advance Directives and Transhumanism

Advance directives are documents which give guidance on what should be done when your health deteriorates to the point where you can no longer make decisions for yourself. Sadly, these documents are often neglected by the general public until it is too late, but it's even more crucial for transhumanists to think about and complete these documents.

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Of course, ideally in near-death scenarios you'd have the option of either vitrification
and cryonic preservation or brain plastination. Unfortunately, you can't yet use advance directives to specify that you'd like to undergo such procedures while still alive, when they would be most effective. But you can use advance directives in an attempt to minimize the likelihood of end of life care interfering with a successful cryopreservation. For example, you could specify that if your condition is deemed irrecoverable and keeping you alive could incur further neuronal damage, your body should be allowed to de-animate.

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We need to work towards a time when individuals do have the legal option of brain plastination or cryopreservation while still alive. But until such a time, the more people who make informed decisions about their end of life care, the better.

No-one likes to think about their own impending death - but if you want to take advantage of the opportunity offered by cryonics, the chance at something other than oblivion after you die, then you'll have to plan and organize effectively.

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