Saturday, August 11, 2007

What is Needed in Cryonics

What is needed most, in the science of cryonics, are rapid intervention and less toxic vitrification solutions.

Rapid intervention will continue to be a problem for cryonicists, for so long as there are so few of them. Let's face it, if a cryonicist experiences sudden legal death in a small town such as, Scobey, Montana, on a warm summer day, what chance is there for anyone to intervene before "information-theoretic death" occurs? ("Information-theoretic death is the destruction of the human brain, and information within it, to such an extent that recovery of the original mind and person that occupied the brain is theoretically impossible by any physical means." Thanks to Aubrey de Grey for introducing this terminology to me.)

My thinking is this:

If I believed I could beat a raw egg, shell and all, with an electric blender for several minutes and put it in a Dewar's, and that, at some point in the future, nanotechnology (or some other science, or force) could reassemble that egg in precisely its pre-scrambled configuration, then I would believe in the cryonic methods of today. Unfortunately, I don't believe we will be able to repair that degree of damage anytime soon, (and by "soon" I mean hundreds of years), IF EVER.

On the other hand, I do believe it is likely that, within a decade or two, we could be able to preserve a human brain with minimal damage, and that relatively minor repairs would be possible. Sadly, not only do I see little progress toward this goal in cryonics, but huge obstacles stand in the way. To be blunt, thinking of unqualified people "trained" by Charles Platt, (or someone like him), attempting to cryopreserve me with equipment designed by similar persons, seems like a futile waste of time and money.

Even if I did have an INFINITE amount of faith in nanotechnology, it only stands to reason that, the longer a person is cryopreserved, the more opportunity for additional damage to be inflicted, or a total catastrophe to occur. Who knows what will happen over the course of centuries? Will every single person responsible for caring for suspended cryonicists during that time be diligent? (That could be a LOT of people, with the turnover rate in cryonics!) Will there be some sort of natural disaster, or man-made disaster (for example, terrorist activity), that will prevent LN2 from being delivered to the facility?

In my mind, being cryogenically preserved in the most pristine condition possible exponentially increases one's odds of being resuscitated. It's very frustrating to feel the science is THISCLOSE to successful cryopreservation, yet so little progress is being made. The people at SA don't seem to realize that "standby, stabilization and transport" have been performed for hundreds of years. There is a lot of existing equipment for transporting patients and restoring circulation, yet these haven't been put to good use at that facility. Far too much time and money is being spent on "reinventing the wheel," there, and an inferior wheel, at that. Platt doesn't research existing equipment before he starts building his own designs, and when someone calls it to his attention, he doesn't even bother to look it.

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