Cryonics and society: Freezing at death with hopes of scientific resurrection

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Cryonics and society: Freezing at death with hopes of scientific resurrection

Cryonics and society: Freezing at death with hopes of scientific resurrection

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The science of cryonics, why hundreds are already frozen, and why more than a thousand others are signing up to be frozen at death.
    • Author:
    • Author name
      Quantumrun Foresight
    • March 28, 2022

    Wikipedia defines cryonics as the low-temperature freezing and storage of a human corpse or severed head, with the speculative hope that resurrection may be possible in the future. Robert Ettinger who is known as the father of cryonics brought the idea into vogue in his 1962 book, The Prospect of Immortality.

    Cryonics and society context

    Scientists who study and practice in the field of cryonics are called Cryogenists. As of 2021, the freezing procedure may only be performed on corpses that are clinically and legally dead or brain dead. The earliest record of an attempt at cryonics was with the corpse of Dr. James Bedford who became the first to be frozen in 1967.

    The procedure involves draining the blood from a corpse to halt the dying process and replacing it with cryoprotective agents shortly after death. Cryoprotective agents are a mixture of chemicals that preserve the organs and prevent the formation of ice during cryopreservation. The body is then moved in its vitrified state to the cryogenic chamber which has sub-zero temperatures as low as -320 degrees Fahrenheit and filled with liquid nitrogen. 

    Cryonics is not void of skepticism. Numerous members of the medical community think it's pseudoscience and quackery. Another argument suggests that cryogenic revival is impossible, as the procedures could lead to irreversible brain damage. 

    The ideology behind cryonics is to preserve bodies in a frozen state until medical science advances to a level—decades from now—when said bodies can be safely unfrozen and successfully revived through various future methods of call rejuvenation aging reversal. 

    Disruptive impact

    Up to 300 corpses in the US have been recorded as stored in cryogenic chambers as of 2014, with thousands more signing up to be frozen after death. Many cryonics companies have gone bankrupt, but among those that have survived include The Cryonics Institute, Alcor, KrioRus, and Yinfeng in China. Costs for the procedure range between $28,000 to $200,000 depending on facility and package. 

    A question that's often asked about cryogenics is how the subjects will blend back into society when they are revived after decades or possibly centuries in stasis. Some theorize that revived individuals who wake up to a strange and different world could recreate a community with other cryogenically revived people, and this would be their way to begin reintegration with society. Alcor (mentioned earlier) has also made provisions in their business model that keep tokens of emotional value that belong to the subjects that could help them reconnect with their past, while also reserving part of the cost for cryogenics for an investment fund that subjects can access upon revival. The Cryonics Institute invests a portion of patients' fees into stock and bonds as a kind of life insurance for these people. 

    Wider implications of cryonics 

    The wider implications of this cryonics may include:

    • Psychologists and therapists working to develop a means for helping these clients with the potential psychological effects that cryonics may produce upon revival. 
    • Companies like Cryofab and Inoxcva producing more cryogenic equipment in response to the growing demand for liquid nitrogen and other tools for the procedure. 
    • Future governments and legal statutes having to legislate for the revival of cryogenically preserved humans so that they can reintegrate into society and access government services.

    Questions to comment on

    • Do you think cryogenically revived people will face stigmas from the new society they might wake up into and what might they be? 
    • Would you like to be cryogenically preserved at death? Why? 

    Insight references

    The following popular and institutional links were referenced for this insight: