An Approach to Growing the Cryonics Industry: Build a Hospital First, then Add Cryonics Services

My attention was recently drawn to Cryopets, a newly formed cryonics provider that has a novel approach to nudging the cryonics industry closer to the mainstream. As regular readers know, cryonics is the low-temperature storage of patients immediately following death, aimed at preservation of the fine structure of brain tissue that stores the data of the mind. Given a high quality preservation, and then indefinite maintenance at low temperature, at some point the societies of the high-tech future will have the capability to revive those patients. There is nothing magical about it; it "just" requires mature molecular nanotechnology and its application to biological systems, as well as a very comprehensive control over biology. That is over the horizon now, but preserved individuals have all the time in the world to wait.

The challenge for the cryonics industry is that it remains small, a very niche concern, with limited funding for progress. Both it and the rejuvenation industry were once alike in this respect, but in the latter case sufficient technological progress was bootstrapped on limited funding, particularly recent work on senolytic therapies, in order to convince the world that there is a viable approach to treating aging as a medical condition. Cryonics has yet to have that moment, despite some early demonstrations of vitrification, thawing, and subsequent implantation and functioning of organs in animals.

How does one bootstrap an industry? Funding depends on interest, which depends on convincing people with viable technology demonstrations, which depends on funding. It is a slow and incremental process, and the only shortcuts usually involve philanthropic funding for research. The latest generation of initiatives include those trying to produce technology demonstrations and those trying to modernize the marketing of cryopreservation services and thus obtain a larger paying membership. The Cryopets principals, on the other hand wants to try building normal, everyday self-sustaining hospital businesses that offer cryopreservation as an additional service. Since it is far cheaper to start that effort in the veterinary industry, the initial focus is on building self-sustaining veterinary hospitals that offer cryopreservation of pets as an additional service.

The soft landing here, in event of failure of the primary goal, is a functioning business. In principle that makes this more attractive to investors than some of the other options on the table for advancing the cryonics industry. Though it really is the case that someone should fund one of the paths to reversible vitrification of organs! That is a very promising prospect, with immediate application to the large medical industry for transplantation, xenotransplantation, and future creation of universal organs from cell banks. In any case, Cryopets has an interesting idea at the core of its business plan, and a greater diversity in efforts to expand the cryonics industry is always a good thing.