SENS5 Video: Max More on the Necessity of Cryonics

A billion people will die between now and the earliest plausible date for the first package of rough and ready but working rejuvenation therapies - say twenty years from now. Another few decades will pass for the technology to work its way out to global availability at low cost, and the deaths by aging will continue in less fortunate regions while this happens. Even after aging is completely conquered, there will be an ongoing toll of death due to accidents and whatever passes for disease in the age of medical nanotechnology. Death isn't going away completely for we biological folk, no matter how well we do in the field of medicine in the foreseeable future: medicine can't wave away falling rocks.

Thus will always be a role for what we might term post-mortem critical care: technologies and services to preserve the fine structure of the brain and the mind it contains following death, and keep them preserved until such time as that patient can be restored to life. At present the only post-mortem critical care option is cryonics, with what looks like a fair few years to wait for technology to advance to the point of restoration, and thus an unknown chance of eventual success for any individual - but a significantly greater chance than is offered by the grave, of course. In contrast, in a future in which the technology to restore a preserved person exists, cryonics and other preservation technologies like plastination will occupy a more dynamic position in the medical toolkit, and patients might expect to wait in a preserved state only for transport to the nearest major population center.

At last year's SENS5 conference, Max More, CEO of cryonics company Alcor, gave this presentation on the future of his industry:

Cryonics involves the cryopreservation of humans as soon as possible after legal and clinical "death". Legal and clinical death differ importantly from biological death or true (irreversible) cessation of function. It is therefore a mistake to portray cryonics as an alternative to cremation or burial. It is true that cryopreserved people are not alive but neither are they dead. Cryonics should be seen as part of the field of life extension. Cryonics enables the transport of critically ill people through time in an unchanging state to a time when more advanced medical and repair technologies are available. Even after "longevity escape velocity" has been attained and aging has been largely tamed, cryonics will continue to be needed for people who die of accidents or diseases for which there is no cure at the time.
Comments

"A billion people will die between now and the earliest plausible date for the first package of rough and ready but working rejuvenation therapies - say twenty years from now."

That seems very optimistic. Certainly more-so than this:

"Another few decades will pass for the technology to work its way out to global availability at low cost, and the deaths by aging will continue in less fortunate regions while this happens."

I can't see us getting there any sooner than thirty years, but once we're on our way I think most countries will get their act together quickly. I can't see anyone holding office who doesn't offer aging reversal to everybody.

Posted by: Ben at March 15th, 2012 1:02 AM

It is an interesting presentation and a good overview of your methods. However, not being able to answer a simple question about the functional status of the defrosted tissue is a big shortcoming of the Cryonics method. The experiment that one of the meeting participants proposed, namely to see if LTP is still present, is critical. Without such data, your method is nothing else but an idea and cryonics is just an expensive burial. Your explanation that there is a shortage of funds is not compelling - cryopreserving an organotypic hippocampal culture or an acute slice should not be an expensive undertaking, given the complexity of the technology that is being used.

Posted by: Andrius Baskys, MD, PhD at March 18th, 2012 10:46 PM

Hello Dr. Baskys,

My understanding is that the LTP experiment has indeed been done by Greg Fahy. I don't see any published papers on it, however the result was announced at a cryonics conference in 2007.

Anyway if I were you, I'd be careful about throwing around analogies taking the form of "oh if we don't have such and such a particular data we might as well be burying people" -- that's the kind of hyperbole I've seen far too much of already around this topic. It gets old fast. Yes, we need to be voraciously attentive to all the data, true, agree, got it... There's no need to throw around dirty insulting phrases like "cryonics is just an expensive burial" to accentuate the point for crying out loud. Besides, it doesn't make any sense: we already know (any child knows) that cryonics is at least slightly more likely to conserve memories than burial. We even have data such as electron micrographs supporting this. So it's pure conversational garbage to suggest that lacking LTP data would mean we're just doing expensive burial.

Still, thanks for commenting on the topic. I look forward to seeing anything further you have to say.

Posted by: Luke Parrish at May 3rd, 2012 10:47 PM

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