Essay talk:On cryonics or similar technology

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A nice read. I'm also leaning towards cryonics being a bit of a pipe dream. Even if it ultimately becomes possible, current efforts to create human popsicles seems as worthwhile as an 18th century man attemping to develop driver software for a modern video card. Poor mice. Let's hope you're right about their hurry bits being well doped. (Concernedresident) -- (talk) 21:19, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

Thanks! There's been so much of this running around my brain lately due to the efforts over at cryonics I really had to try to write it out in a semi-coherent way. ħumanUser talk:Human 22:04, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

Nice one[edit]

I like it. Especially pointing out the problem: any "preservation" technology without a known resurrection method is cargo-cult science and pseudotechnology - David Gerard (talk) 23:27, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

Thanks. Like I said above, my head was full of cryonics and the more general "tech" I had to spew it somewhere. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:33, 24 February 2010 (UTC)
As Hamster points out on talk:Cryonics, a plausible resurrection method would be sufficient. But the thing is realising how stupidly far present cryonics is even from that. It does seem to me just a fancier method of shoving the brain in a jar - David Gerard (talk) 15:11, 27 February 2010 (UTC)


I actually find the brain only preservation thing quite "logical", because the technology assumed to fix all the damage from a normal icecubed person is so high anyway, they should probably be able to do that as well. I mean, from the sounds of it, we are talking about fixing every single synapse and dendrite here of an object (the brain) with more complexity than the galaxy!

Also, not to be outdone in sci-fi-ness, I put forth the proposition that future peoples are going to laugh with the idea that the only way to generate a human body is with "cloning" and such, and in fact, they are simply going to 3d print an entire body from the brain and outwards. Using cell "inks" identical in DNA and such with the patients, constructed in a synthetic life kind of way. Sen (talk) 02:58, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

On your second point, very good one. Very good indeed. I may need to think about that and address it in the essay. 3D printers are scary cool. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:28, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

Nice Musings[edit]

I enjoyed reading your thoughts here. However I think in the popular imagination it is often said that for example if someone dies of cancer "that they will be awoken when there is a cure for cancer." Of course the issue of curing cancer seems relatively minor when compared to the need in cryonics for a "cure for death." In fact many cancers are already curable of course. Similarly organ and tissue growth is something which, though in it's infancy is rapidly becoming a demonstrable reality.

I like the idea of someone running into a cryonics laboratory and crying "Yes! Finally, a cure for bowel cancer!" "Great!, Now all that's left for me to do is to cure "being frozen for two hundred years and having your head cut off!""

Espontaneo (talk) 20:28, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

Hehe, thanks! ħumanUser talk:Human 21:00, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

BenBest says[edit]

On For a new life[edit]

You are correct, rejuvenation is a key element in the cryonics program. Cryonics is based on the idea that future medicine will be able to not only cure all diseases, but cure the disease known as "aging". You say that "we all know the effects of aging", but it seems to me that you do not know very much about aging. Aging is the result of identifiable forms of damage to organs, tissues, cells and macromolecules. To reverse aging requires understanding of those forms of damage and how to either repair or replace what is damaged, which could involve molecular repair, stem cells, artificial organs, etc. For some insight into the molecular basis of aging, see Mechanisms of Aging. For some insight into means of rejuvenation, see Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence. Thinking that aging is "magic", beyond human or scientific comprehension is no longer defensible. And with understanding of the process comes the possibility of fixing the damage. --BenBest (talk) 18:14, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

on : Brain only - new body[edit]

Yes, there are many problems to solve. Cryonicists are people who believe that technologies of the future will be vastly superior to technologies of the present. Skeptics seem to be people who believe in current technology, but have no belief that science or technology can advance much beyond the present.
Yes, the most important goal in cryonics is to preserve the brain as best as possible. I think that within a couple of decades it should be possible to use stem cells to create artificial organs for a person cloned from their own genetic material. It should not require ten or twenty years for stem cells on the proper scaffolding to create a new liver or even a new heart or kidney. Some reptiles can generate entire new limbs that have been amputated. The means by which this is done is being studied, and may be applicable to mammals within a decade or two. The capabilities of biotechnology within a few decades should not be underestimated -- to say nothing of what can be possible within a century. --BenBest (talk) 18:24, 26 February 2010 (UTC)
"Cryonicists are people who believe that technologies of the future will be vastly superior to technologies of the present. Skeptics seem to be people who believe in current technology, but have no belief that science or technology can advance much beyond the present." No, it's more a belief that future technologies will not override current known limits of actual physics - David Gerard (talk) 15:13, 27 February 2010 (UTC)
I still think that even if cryonics works, humanity is sufficiently screwed that it wouldn't be worth it. Professor Moriarty 15:23, 27 February 2010 (UTC)
What limitations of "actual physics" do you have in mind, David? Be specific. --BenBest (talk) 18:01, 27 February 2010 (UTC)
Not just laws of physics, but basic biology. The brain isn't just a static mass of data. Consciousness doesn't just depend on what the brain looks like at a static moment, but the motions and connections forming and unforming between cells. It's an emergent property based on both structure and momentum. In a computer like analogy, the brain is like the processor and RAM combined, when it switches off, everything that was loaded on to it is lost, it no longer has this momentum. Anyone who thinks cryonics is plausible seems to assume the brain can be treated like a hard drive, where the data remains in tact once the power is off, so long as you preserve it right or can restore it properly. I don't think modern neuroscience is supporting that view. Indeed, if it was remotely possible, it'd would be fairly easy to bring someone back to life after brain death and cryonics advocates would be far better to apply themselves entirely to that problem, rather than the freezing/preservation one and then assume that future technology will just do it all for them as if by magic. Scarlet A.pngsshole 01:15, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

On Hand-wavey calculation of probabilities and timescales[edit]

You wrote "The dumbest thing about modern 'cryonics' to me is that without a viable, established resurrection technology, the appropriate means of preservation are completely unknown." It is not "completely unknown" at all, and there is a very good model for it, the reverence to which you obliterated on the cryonics entry. The 2009 paper documenting the rabbit kidney study shows that the vitrified (not "frozen") rabbit kidney when rewarmed was able to function as the sole functioning kidney for several days.[1] The principle is fairly basic: preserve the structure well and the function can be restored — the same for a kidney as for a brain. There is nothing dumb about thinking that future medicine will be able to cure all diseases, and there is nothing dumb about thinking that future medicine will be able to rejuvenate people to a youthful condition. Cells, organs, and tissues will need to be repaired or replaced, and as long as the original structure of the brain can be maintained, it is reasonable to me that a future technology can restore it to youth and health. If it is not reasonable to you, then what we are arguing about is different subjective evaluations, not hard facts. Your subjective judgments are not objective fact. --BenBest (talk) 21:19, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

On Laws of nature[edit]

You confuse "laws of nature" with feasible technologies. It would be against the laws of nature to build a spaceship that goes faster than light, but it is not against the laws of nature to think that humans could be sent to Mars (or Pluto) and back, although it would be extremely expensive. Pluto may be beyond current technical capability at any expense, but that would not make it against the "laws of nature" or "laws of physics". In my opinion, new technologies and new sources of energy are likely to make access to space increasingly less expensive. I see signs of this all the time. Once again, the skeptical point of view seems to have a very limited view of where technology can go — very little advance beyond current technology is deemed possible. --BenBest (talk) 21:33, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
The laws of physics say very little about faster than light motion, just the impossibility of accelerating a mass to the speed of light. The laws of physics do not preclude travel to other planets, they dictate minimum energy requirements to do so. And remember, as I point out, most of this energy gets dumped as heat into the biosphere. ħumanUser talk:Human 20:09, 18 April 2016 (UTC)

For space travel[edit]

Unlikely. Within the solar system the marginaly more viable human habitation option would be good enough or simply keeping people awake and active. By the time you are looking at interstellar travel you pretty much have to have an awake crew for maintenance which means you only need to keep on had frozen sperm and egg samples for gene pool expansion at the other end. If any of this turns out to be possible it might well be the cryonics fanatics who do it perhaps with spinn off techs from something like organ preservation.Geni (talk) 00:12, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

I think space travel is the most likely initial use of any functional cryonic technology. Once we have successfully suspended and reanimated small, high-metabolism mammals and moved on to successful human trials, we will have eliminated some of the problems with medium-long space journeys (one the scale of years, solar system exploration) which are doable with today's technology. If we then figure out a reasonable way to propel an interstellar craft (and return it home), and trust that our method is good for much longer timescales (hundreds of years), it would make complete sense to outfit a mission to a nearby star. During most of the trip there is no need for humans to be awake and at the tiller, as long as on-board computers can recognize the need for in-flight reanimation to cope with unforeseen situations. It ain't that hard to keep a spaceship on course. ħumanUser talk:Human 17:11, 18 November 2010 (UTC)
I should edit it to read "Elon Musk has the money" instead of "NASA has the money"! ħumanUser talk:Human 18:56, 18 April 2016 (UTC)


  1. Fahy GM, Wowk B, Pagotan R, Chang A, Phan J, Thomson B, Phan L Physical and biological aspects of renal vitrification Organogenesis. 2009 Jul;5(3):167-75.