Ask the Audience — Cryogenics: Crazy Like a Fox or Just Crazy?

Today I read this disappointing (and disappointingly paywalled) New Yorker article about cryogenic preservation. For those of you not steeped in science fiction as a child, cryogenic preservation is the idea of freezing your corpse in the hopes that someday an advanced civilization will use their futuristic technology to defrost and then resurrect you. This is a concept that most people (including the author of the piece, Jill Lepore) find ridiculous, and the reasons one might think that are obvious — the prospect of spending eternity stuck in an ice-cold metal canister in storage somewhere sounds pretty silly, and the eventual success of such a project seems dubious.

That said, the reason I was disappointed in the article was that I don’t find the idea of cryogenic preservation absurd; I was a bit surprised by the tone of the article (which talks about the silliness of the concept’s 91-year old chief spokesman and the absurdity of several mid-twentieth century sci-fi works that discuss the idea), since I wasn’t sure that cryogenics was that crazy.

So, out of curiosity about this, I thought I’d ask the readers of this blog to post comments about their thoughts on cryogenic preservation. Does it strike you as farcical? If so, why? Do you understand the motivation behind it but think its ultimately misguided? Any few brave souls willing to admit that they (like me) think it might be a good idea?

I’ll post a rundown of people’s comments as well as my own views this Friday.

isI say disappointing rather than bad because the author approached the subject in a different way than what I had hoped for.

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5 thoughts on “Ask the Audience — Cryogenics: Crazy Like a Fox or Just Crazy?

  1. Dear Josh-

    I will not use our marital assets to cryogenically freeze you. Instead, I will take many vacations in the Caribbean. I love you.

    -Wifey

  2. I certainly can understand the thrust behind a desire to continue living indefinitely. What I don’t understand is the desire people have to preserve their specific bodies. Rather than being cryogenically frozen, I would simply prefer that my consciousness be downloaded into a computer. Whether I remained dormant or continue pondering in that time is a little irrelevant. I’m content to wait until I can be uploaded into a smokin-hot body that will better suit my moderate ambitions to one day beat David in a tennis match.

  3. Pingback: Cryogenics – Stonesoup Readers Say – Not Really Crazy « stone soup

  4. Consider that they are already printing and regrowing simple organs in the lab, and that brain death is a long process that can be interrupted even using our primitive technologies. People ignorant of these facts are the only ones that find cryonics funny.

    Thomas, you can’t upload without preserving the information in the first place. There aren’t any scanning devices in existence that can download your essence from your decaying brain matter. The best we can do is stop the decay process and wait for better technology. Cryonics is about preserving the brain, not the rest of the body. The other body parts (such as the head) come along for the ride in most cases, but this is primarily to minimize damage to the brain.

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