London Futurists Message Board Events/Meetups › New Meetup: Cryonics UK, One Year On - An update from David Styles

New Meetup: Cryonics UK, One Year On - An update from David Styles

David W.
Group Organizer
London, GB
Announcing a new Meetup for London Futurists!

What: Cryonics UK, One Year On - An update from David Styles

When: Sunday, May 16, 2010 2:00 PM

Birkbeck College
Torrington Square WC1E 7HX

Date: Sunday, May 16, 2010
Time: 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Location: Room 414, 4th floor (via main lift), Birkbeck College, Torrington Square, London WC1E 7HX.

Cryonics (to quote Wikipedia) is the low-temperature preservation of humans and animals who can no longer be sustained by contemporary medicine, with the hope that healing and resuscitation may be possible in the future. The rationale for cryonics is that people who are considered dead by current legal or medical definitions may not necessarily be dead according to the more stringent information-theoretic definition of death. It is proposed that cryopreserved people might someday be recovered by using highly advanced future technology.

About the speaker:

David Styles took over the role of "Organiser" for Cryonics UK from his long-serving predecessor a year ago, and has been the actor of a lot of change in that year. He is also serves on the Board of Directors for the Immortality Institute, though his work for ImmInst is not confined to cryonics-related matters.

About the talk:

David will describe the extent of changes in Cryonics UK over the course of the past year since he last spoke in London. The talk will include:

*) what problems and shortcomings have been remedied
*) how the organisation has grown and become stronger during that time
*) where UK suspension capabilities currently stand,
*) where the organisation is going from here.

There's no charge to attend this meeting, and everyone is welcome.

Why not join some of the meetup regulars for a drink and/or light lunch beforehand, any time after 12.30pm, in The Marlborough Arms, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ. To find us, look out for a table where there's a copy of the Stephen Hall's book "Merchants of immortality: chasing the dream of human life extension" displayed.

Note: the above information is a duplicate of a Facebook event page, where there's a larger number of RSVPs from interested attendees.

Learn more here:­
London, GB
Post #: 68
I missed Mr. Styles' last talk, and if I'm honest, the idea of someone being preserved after death seems quite unusual to me; so I'm wondering... What evidence is there that Cryonics UK are any more professional than some of the American Cryonics laboratories? Which seem to be taking unusual into the realms of downright freakish...
A former member
Post #: 376
I am going along to this as well, and I must say i am very skeptical of cryonics for these reasons.

1. Tell me if I am wrong but they cannot freeze you until you are clinically dead - so anybody who gets frozen is hoping that they can cure Death? Theres something "freaky" about that you cannot re-animate dead flesh and who is saying for sure that this will not be also true in the future. Death is Death and theres not much you can do about it and no amount technology can change that in my mind.

2. Ice Crystals - even with the best possible freezing processes there is always cellular damage because of ice-crystals, human beings are incredibly complex to freeze down requiring lots of different chemicals at various tempretures to reduce crystalisation. I don't buy that Alcor and similar companys have been able to acheive this properly and this is not just my opinion a lot more learned people than me are also very critical.

3. Brains seem to require electricity to run so when you die this goes off and I am assuming that all the neurons then lose their holographic memory?? (my understanding is that memory is stored as holographically in the brain which is why old memories seem to fade like old holograms) So my theory is even if cryonics of the future can get past points 1+2 they will be reanimating people with no memory at all - which would be utterly pointless to any future society!

4. And even if cronics can beat 1+2+3 why would any future want to reanimate people from the past? Yeah i can see how it might be interesting to re-animate maybe a famous person or a great thinker from the past but not for long. What contribution can somebody from 200-300 years ago really provide us with? Lets say that for some freak reason 5000 people from 1750 were frozen in a lake and could be reanimated now in 2010 using speciall just discovered technology or we could just leave them there. Once you start thinking about how much these people will need to be able to survive in our year it probably wouldn't be worth doing at all. Where would they work for example, how would they be housed the list is endless. Lets face it the way things are now they woulkd be better in the lake and whose to say that future 2500 is going to be able to indulge 1000's of relics from the 21st century.

5. And this is the big one - Come on guys surely you can see this is just a big con cashing in on the old promises of immortality? Seriously anybody who is willing to pay $100K+ on cryonics is must be falling for a scam how can we be 100% sure that these firms are straight about what they do . They offer vauge hope for fantastic sums of money there is definitly something very fishy about it. I really feel for people that have terminal illnesses and don't want to die, but surely they would be better off using that money to help their living familys and opting for a lower cost burial or cremation. It should probably be illegal (cryonics) except for scientific research when you really start thinking about it....
Dirk B.
user 9941666
London, GB
Post #: 51
I have heard it cynically claimed that the best way of ensuring a good preservation is to shoot yourself through the heart and fall backwards into a vat of liquid nitrogen. The chances of actually being preserved well is, as Richie says, pretty unlikely given present laws and medical constraints. The delay would (at best) be hours.

As for re-animation, that requires a full blown nanotechnology. For that reason alone a more realistic approach might be a destructive scanning of the brain and uploading into a Virtual Reality simulation. The slice'n'dice solution. Potentially doable with refinements of existing technology, although the computing power to reintegrate the data from the scanning into an operating brain will probably not exist for at least 20 years. Still, the longer you remain frozen the better chance you have.

Or had - maybe you opted for Cryonics and this is the sim!
London, GB
Post #: 69
I'm sceptical of this whole transhuman cult; however I can see "slightly" more of a possibility of reanimating the dead than some humongous computer taking over the world.

So, since part of my background is in Biochemistry, I'm going to take a stab at your questions, although I guess I should emphasize that I'm not a Doctor, and therefore might be giving blue or brown answers, however I will be delighted if anyone can find holes in my arguments.

1. There have been outlier cases where people deemed clinically dead have returned to life; and I believe in some rare neurosurgical procedures, it is necessary to disconnect the patient from life support and effectively 'kill' them before performing the operation, and then bringing them back to life (religious types are quite unhappy about this). However, all of this is on a very short timescale, and doesn't involve freezing.
1a. Experiments in animals have shown that cryogenic suspension is at least theoretically possible, albeit again on a very short timescale.

2. Organs for transplantation would be shipped at close to zero centigrade, and small organisms and cells (bacteria, virii, sperm, human eggs, etc.) can easily be stored in liquid nitrogen, so this seems more of a physical problem than a biological one. I don't know what Cryonics UK's answer is, but in theory you could perfuse the corpse with Ethylene Glycol. The problem there is that Ethylene Glycol would prevent ice crystals forming, but it's also a toxic substance and therefore wouldn't do you any good upon reanimation.
2a. The major problem I foresee is build-up of Calcium ions inside cells unable to form ATP (due to hypoxia), and thus producing lots of lactic acid - which would also need to be taken care of somehow.

3. As far as I'm aware, we don't really know for sure how memories are stored; one of the last developments I read from the field of neuroscience seemed to suggest that in patients undergoing deep brain stimulation, stimulation of a single neuron would trigger a specific thought - so for example, one neuron might correspond to a cheese sandwich, whilst another might correspond to Bob Marley. Presumably then, so long as problem 2a can be overcome, the neurons might be able to stabilize and generate electricity again, further assuming they were suspended before becoming permanently damaged.

4. Wouldn't it be fascinating to talk to someone from 1750? They'd have a completely different viewpoint and outlook on life to that which we have nowadays. Further, to Americans, 1750 is ancient history and therefore I suspect that their Historians and Sociologists etc. would love to have a first hand account of what it was like to live in those times.
4a. To your frozen lake people question, assuming full revival were possible, the Hippocratic oath requires that Doctors give assistance to those in need. I'm guessing some counselling / psychotherapy would be needed as well, but I don't see that as an insurmountable problem.
4b. Contract law requires that if you enter into a contract, both parties are required to fulfil their obligations. So, presumably in the case of someone getting frozen, they agree to pay a certain amount of money in exchange for indefinite rental of the corner of a laboratory somewhere, the employment of a technician to monitor the temperature of the corpse, top up the liquid nitrogen every so often, and the services of an independent auditor to ensure that the corpse has been adequately maintained else a clause in the contract so severe that it puts the laboratory out of business is triggered. I can't see any reason why such a contract, once agreed, couldn't be assigned to a friendly third party in the Will of the deceased.
4c. Presumably if someone can afford everything in 4b, they are already quite well off, and should therefore be able to support themselves independently upon reanimation.

5. I think the problem here is that so far there is so little information about the probability of reanimation that it's next to impossible to make any sort of decision about whether it's worth the effort / expense for what currently seems like a wafer thin chance of reanimation.
5b. The cryogenics company would effectively be agreeing an open-ended contract with the client, while the client presumably wants to ensure that there is absolutely no possible chance whatsoever that the cryogenics company accidentally (or even deliberately) defrosts him, unless the future Doctors are on standby with the jump-start machine. Now, I'm guessing no sane company would agree a clause so punitive that it puts them out of business, should they inadvertently thaw the client when the Cleaner trips over the plug to the refrigeration unit. And, without that clause and an independent auditor to trigger it, it would be pretty easy for the company to just re-ice the corpse, wipe the over-temperature records and pretend like nothing happened, until long after the incompetent technician is dead and future Doctors discover that the client has already started to decompose.
5c. Interestingly, once you are clinically dead, you can do what you like with your body (relevant public health and outrage laws permitting). Personally, I've given thoughts to cremation, followed by a scattering of ashes across Brighton beach on a windy summer day.

An even bigger problem I foresee is that death isn't just a nice clean on/off; the older you get, the more chance you have of suffering a stroke, before you die of that or some other cause shortly thereafter (there's about 85% chance your recorded cause of death will be some form of circulatory disease) - this would mean that you would be (possibly severely) mentally disabled before you were put into the chiller - and we're all agreed that once brain cells are destroyed, there ain't nothing modern or future Doctors can do that will bring them back.
A former member
Post #: 383
Interesting points - I still think is a big con and totally impossible but lets say that for fun that cryonics is possible.

There was a old sci-fi story i remember reading about Time Travel, what they did in this story was manage to get a man from 1000 years in the future. When they got the guy and asked about what life was like he gave lots of interesting answers - anti-gravity belts, teleportation, instant communication ect. BUT he was next to useless to the scientists and historians as he sold insurance and had no idea how any of the amazing future technologies actually worked. I am a imagining that the 1750 lake crew would also be not much real use, once you discounted the dangerously infected, the poorly educated and pirates/criminals you would probably be left with one musician who only really knew about pianos and someone who knew a lot about compasses! I think the novelty of 1750 man would wear off pretty quick for most people.

And for people of our time frame which hope to be reanimated in the future - I ask again what possible use will they be to future society. So great you made millions in stocks and shares and can easily afford cryonics as a option and a trust fund for your hypothetical re-animation. Lets say that 10,000 people do this with a average spend of about 1 million per person, thats 10 billion tied up on vauge promise - why should people be allowed to do this? It seem's amazingly selfish to me jusy from a financial point of view to have dead people holding onto huge amounts of cash/property after death instead of passing it down to the next generations.
Why would a future society look kindly on these people if protecting their interests fo 100's of years causes social problems. I think that prehaps future societys might not be happy with thier obligations to to these "undead" and what use is a 21st century city trader in 2267 when they dont even use stock markets anymore. Let's face it the people that choose to be frozen are not usually Nobel Prize Calibre, they are just people that can afford it.
I can't see why future societys will want to re-animate ancient rich oligarch's if they cannot garuntee it will be a good thing. You have people with 250 year old points of view getting in your face and potentaily causing a lot of problems. Lets also say that the re-animated because of thier ancient trust funds and insurance payouts find themselves 100 X finacially better off that the residents of 2267 - whys that fair?
People always assume that the future will be richer and better able to handle these things but again thats "blue sky thinking" the future is justs as likely to be a lot harder. We could well look back at 1950-2025 as a selfish period which the residents of 2267 are still paying for.

Sure its a great fantasy to be able to "time-travel" to the future and I do enjoy reading sci-fi about cryonics, but as a reality i just don't really see the point. Sure i would love to wake up in 2267 and ride the Phobos space elevator and travel to Alpha Centurai in a week but no-one garunteeing thats what 2267 will be like. 2267 could well be a time/place you don't want to be at all and you can't exactly go back to 2010!!
London, GB
Post #: 76
You may well be right, I certainly wouldn't advise anyone to spend money on cryonics, but I think it's worth researching, so that we can discover definitively whether of not it's possible; and if not, whether there might be any further medical benefits that could have accrued from the research.

Regarding temporally displaced people, that's two different scenarios, and while in each case we might end up with the village idiot, there's still a possibility that we get someone worth talking to (or even a genius).

Now, supposing that through whatever means, your time traveller from the future managed to arrive back in 2010, we'd still have the benefits of knowing that anti-gravity belts, teleportation and instant communication were confirmed as being possible, and in what timescale, plus some cursory information about how complicated they were - from their relative size, cost and popularity (even though our time traveller has no clue how they work), and thus we know given enough effort, some bright spark will be able to invent them, instead of spending a lifetime on something else that might definitely be impossible.

Further, since insurance is all about risks, we should be able to glean useful information about how far technology has mitigated risks by comparing 2010 insurance rates with those from whatever period our traveller has fallen back in time from (perhaps in 2345, people will be insuring against attack by Terminator style robots). Heck, if nothing else, our traveller would be able to tell us who wins the forthcoming World Cup football.

Going the other way, with someone skipping forward in time, at the very least, we have a fellow that will make a good living on the chat-show circuit - similar to Mel Brooks' "2000 Year Old Man". However, humour aside, there's many old ships manifests from the 1700's that list lots of different sorts of people who travelled by boat, not just Sailors.

More interestingly though much of what we know about history only concerns major events, with very little known about ordinary folk. However, we actually have voices from the past that are of enormous value to modern day Historians, in the form of diaries. So, for example, whilst somewhat earlier that 1750, Samuel Pepys (merely a Clerk) gives us one of best accounts of the Great fire of London, and Giacomo Casanova (an itinerant actor / priest) gives us one of the only available accounts of 18th century Venice, vast amounts of information regarding Carriages of the period, and numerous accounts of styles and customs of different European countries of the time. More recently, and quite serendipitously, a diary of a Sailor from the 1700's came to light, and that has been of interest to historians, so imagine what lost day-to-day information that Sailor could reveal to us if he had been discovered rather than his diary.

As to money, the dead holding onto funds is nothing new. Back in days when Church attendance was compulsory, it was de rigueur that people would leave money to the Parish they lived in, so that mourners would pray for their immortal souls. If you've ever looked at old Wills, you will frequently see money set aside by very ordinary people as a charitable bequest such as the interest on a sum of money held in trust to repair the local church, fund places at school for children, or aide the poor and sick etc. etc.

Many of these charitable trusts have long been forgotten about, swept up into bigger charities, purloined by greedy local councils or become worthless as rampant inflation has eroded their value etc. The point is that sums of money are already controlled by the dead, it's just less common these days since we're generally less religious, and taxed so heavily by the Government; who insist that they're being generous to charities using Government money (when what they really mean is using money taken from hardworking taxpayers). Although, perhaps a better way to look at it is to say that in the past people "wasted" money on having monuments erected after death, so is it any different for people to "waste" money on effectively becoming their own monument?

Anyway, as previously mentioned, Contract law requires that the contract is fulfilled, no ifs, no buts... So, whether or not rich buggers have any use to future society is immaterial, and regardless, since when has life ever been fair? We might not be happy about it, but it's a fact that some people simply have it better than others, often through just having had the good sense to pop out of the correct womb, rather than having any discernable talent - Therefore, the choices I see are either to waste time complaining about how life isn't fair, move to a Communist country or make the best of what you have right now.

Finally, I don't think anybody is claiming the future will be richer or better (we might only get a Neuromancer style Dystopia); but wouldn't you just love to find out whether things get better or worse? Are the Global warming doom mongers right? Will the world have been taken over by computers? Will we still have the internet? Will anyone have built a space lift? What will transportation be like? Will mankind have migrated to other planets? Will we have encountered alien races? Will the average lifespan have been significantly extended? Will people of the future be more intelligent or still keep making the same mistakes we do? Will there be a global government? Will we still need money in the future? The list of questions could go on and on...
Dirk B.
user 9941666
London, GB
Post #: 60
As for who might bring someone back, or why, consider the timescales.
Bringing back via scanning and simulation might be well less than 50 years away, since a major constraint is computing power. A full blown nanotech revival would be further off, barring a Singularity driven by Artificial General Intelligence.

For someone (youngish) who gets frozen now, it is possible their children will still be alive, and almost certainly their grandchildren, at that future date. Would you bring your dead parents or grandparents back?
Maybe another reason to have lots of kids.
A former member
Post #: 384
To freeze yourself in the hope that the technological singularity will happen within 50 years is probably a much more reasonable idea! Thanks Dirk made me smile smile.

Also i like the points you made J. about my fantasy people from 1750 - its a easy mistake to think people from the past are less intelligent/capable than we are now. Can't believe i fell for that one again.... sigh
You also made some good points about how this has been done before with regard to money controlled by the dead and giving all your possesions to the church.

So we have it I think, Cryonics in a nutshell is: The vauge promise of time-travel for hardcore sci-fi fans with life threatening diseases, A 21st century folly!

Dirk B.
user 9941666
London, GB
Post #: 61
It may or may not be a folly.
If you are dying and have the cash it's the only shot you are going to get at living again no matter how improbable.
The alternative is dead forever - guaranteed, 100%.
Like they say, you can't take it with you.
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