Three senior people at Oxford University’s Institute for the Future of Humanity have just announced that they are signing up for cryonic storage after death. This is a service which flash-freezes your brain when you die, in the hope that future technology will enable you to be defrosted safely. The Oxford academics think there is a 15% chance the process will work, but they believe it is their only hope of long-term survival. To coin a phrase, “better fresh than frozen; better frozen than dead.”
Ken Hayworth and colleagues at the Brain Preservation Foundation are developing an alternative approach to brain preservation, which involves chemical fixation, and then embedding the brain tissue in plastic for room-temperature storage.
Brain preservation is a massively under-funded endeavour. Globally, we lose 150,000 minds to death every day, and although we expend huge resources to extend our lifespans by five or ten years, we spend almost nothing on the most radical approach to death, which is abolishing it altogether. If, as Hayworth and others believe, a major push could develop the technology in just a few years, our grandchildren will think we were insane not to do it sooner.
For reasons I explain in Six Important Questions, brain preservation could also bridge the gap between the arrival of the first AI and the arrival of live uploading. And it could ease the tensions that will arise if and when uploading becomes available. In numerous ways, brain preservation is key to safeguarding our future.
We need an Apollo Project for brain preservation.