An Interesting Goal: Cryonics Without Repair

Cryonics as presently practiced is the low-temperature storage of a patient on death, so as to preserve the structure of the mind and offer a chance at being revived by a future medical community capable of rejuvenation, repair, and restoration to life. Cryonics as a medical technology has been under development at a slow pace since the early 1970s, with a steady delivery of improvements in process and methodologies. This piece from a recent issue of Cryonics Magazine discusses strategies and goals for future improvements in the cryopreservation process:

Let's start with the following definition of cryonics: "Cryonics is the stabilization of critically ill patients at ultra-low temperatures to allow resuscitation in the future." As you can see, nothing in this definition says that repair is an intrinsic feature of cryonics. But is this a reasonable perspective? Yes, cryonics patients will require a second look at their condition by a future doctor who will have more advanced medical technologies at his/her disposal. This could conceivably be called "repair." Most cryonics patients will also require rejuvenation biotechnologies. After all, it makes little sense to cure the patient's disease but leave him/her in a fragile, debilitated state. This could be called "repair" too, in particular if you believe that aging is the progressive accumulation of damage.

The repair that I want to discuss here is repair of the damage that is associated with the cryopreservation process itself. If we can eliminate this kind of damage, and the associated requirement of repair in the future, we will make the idea of cryonics a whole lot more attractive. Perhaps the most obvious advantage is that cryonics could not be dismissed solely by pointing to the (irreversible) damage caused by the cryopreservation process itself. In essence, such a form of cryonics would be akin to putting a critically ill patient in a state of true suspended animation. This would strengthen the legal position of cryonics patients because a decision to abandon a patient in such a condition would be more akin to murder (or at least serious neglect).

Another advantage would be that the absence of cryopreservation damage would increase the likelihood of the patient being restored to good health in the future. Less damage is also likely to translate into lower costs, too, and it is rather obvious that such an advantage can mean more security for the patient. Reversible cryopreservation may also lead to earlier treatment and resuscitation attempts, which may reduce challenges associated with re-integration [into society]. Cryonics without repair also matters in the here-and-now. Without the goal of reversible cryopreservation there are no objective, empirical criteria to evaluate the quality of care in a cryonics case. Last, but not least, we should do no harm. Allowing unnecessary injury of the patient because future advanced technologies should be able to fix it is a morally suspect gamble with a person's life.



A reversable cryopreservation is surely way better, than irreversible. It might also get attention of the different industries, like space travelling. Cryosleep, as shown in various sci-fi, can become reality then. A better way to preserve tissues and organs for further transplantation can also be achieved.

Posted by: Alexey Antonov at October 9th, 2013 11:59 PM

Post a comment; thoughtful, considered opinions are valued. Comments incorporating ad hominem attacks, advertising, and other forms of inappropriate behavior are likely to be deleted.

Note that there is a comment feed for those who like to keep up with conversations.