Wednesday, September 16, 2015

In Defense of Cryonics

The current issue of Technology Review contains Michael Hendricks' scathing condemnation of the proposal of cryonics, i.e. the idea of freezing your body or at least your brain as soon and as rapidly as possible after death, with the goal of being revived in a distant future where technology has progressed to the point where it is possible to do so.

Due to the difficulties of recreating decayed and destroyed tissue, this resurrection might well not be in the flesh, but could involve scanning and recreating the configuration of the brain as closely as possible, using a computational simulation. It is this particular vision that Hendricks argues against.
Hendricks is an expert on nematodes, specifically the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, which tends to live in soil and feed on decaying organic matter when not spending time in the lab. I can see why Caenorhabditis dislikes the prospect of his food ending up in  Alcor's freezer instead of the soil, but the core of Hendricks' arguments is not as compelling to me.

Hendricks makes five especially salient points: