It's amazing how popular being alive is. By the way people act you'd think being dead is a bad thing. Wait. Being dead is a bad thing. In fact it's the single worst thing that's ever going to happen to you. Why wouldn't you want to avoid it, or at least undo it at a later date? Modern technology and science are advancing at an exponential rate and it only makes sense that eventually we will be able to prolong life almost indefinitely. And most assuredly we will be able to cure things in the future that we cannot cure now.
The idea of preserving your corpse only to be brought back to life and cured later seems ingenious, fascinating, totally plausible, and a good idea to many people. Cryonics is the process that, immediately after being declared dead, the body is frozen in an effort to preserve it, keeping all the organs and cell structures intact. The thought behind this is that future science will eventually be able to treat the cause(s) of death. So the body is thawed, fixed up in some futuristic Cryo Jiffy-Lube, and you're flying your space car home before dinner. That's the theory. Believing in the possibility and actually going through with the process is an exercise in idiocy for the following reasons.
1. Most of your body is destroyed in the process
The current "industry standard" for cryonics, which is not a science, is that upon death the body is pumped full of anti-coagulants and then flash frozen in a bath of liquid nitrogen. Basically, the body is turned into a TV dinner.
Even people in the industry agree that this method is less than ideal. The body is about 60% water and the brain is 70% water. Freezing water takes on a crystalline structure that might look nice and smooth for hockey but is jagged and rough microscopically. All those ice crystals do a number on your cell structures. Even worse, you can think of your brain as an ice cube you just dropped into a glass of hot water. Oops. That cracking doesn't sound too good.
What's left to work with after this process is completed might look nice and preserved but at the cellular level you're screwed. And now not only does future medicine have to figure out how to cure what killed you, they have to figure out how to undo the problem that ALL YOUR CELLS ARE NOW RUINED. And I thought curing cancer was hard.
2. It's ridiculously expensive
It's hard to put a price tag on the possibility of being reanimated in the future so that you can accomplish all those things you didn't get around to accomplishing the first time you were alive. Oh wait, no it's not. Alcor has done it and the price is $80,000 to freeze your head and $150,000 to freeze your whole body. Jesus! That's a lot of dough. I can't think of a worse thing to spend my money on considering I won't even see the benefit until after I'm dead. What's the fun in that? Oh right, I might come back to life. I'll get to that.
Without going too much into economics, unless you are rich and money is no object, your best bet is to spend the money WHILE YOU ARE ALIVE. You are guaranteed to receive all the benefit of that money if you do. On the other hand, spending it on freezing your corpse is a gamble-- a huge gamble. It would be like dropping $80k or $150k on a single number at the roulette table, only the wheel has several billion numbers on it. Oof. The chances of all the things going right necessary to make this venture worthwhile is astronomical, as we'll see here shortly.
Things More Fun to Spend $150,000 on Than Cryonics
- Starring in your own rap video
- Buying the New York Mets
- The best night in Vegas ever
- Lifetime supply of pistachios
3. The company will probably not be in business
How long will it take before science and technology advance to the point of reanimating your dead body? One hundred years? A thousand? Who knows. But I can say with certainty that only a handful of companies have been around for over a hundred years, and those companies offered services everyone needs, like clothing. They did not offer some high-end product with dubious benefits. So what happens when you go with a budget company for ensuring your future reanimation and they go bankrupt? Impossible to tell. But maybe the government will give them a bail-out so your frozen body doesn't melt into a puddle of goo.
Again, without going into economics, companies in the cryonics business constantly need to be generating revenue. This is pretty much true for any company not named Solyndra. Once they have your money there is little incentive for the company to care much about your popsicle body. Why would they? You're dead! They aren't going to be getting any more money out of you. So their efforts need to be focused on generating more and more clients. As they do this, unfortunately, logistics and sheer numbers start to become a huge problem. There are over 350 million humans just in the United States. And the science to bring people back after being frozen is not right around the corner, not even close, so all these frozen heads and corpses are going to need to be stored somewhere. Ultimately, the chances of your frozen parts ending up in the trash in order to make room for new paying customers is pretty good.
4. You'll probably be a zombie
Assuming the whole cryonics concept is plausible (see #1), what's left after the body is reanimated would probably be less like how you remember Aunt Marge and more like something out of a Stephen King novel. For starters, the brain would need to be restored at virtually a 100% success rate. Even 99% won't cut it because as we see with stroke victims, they lose about 1% of their neurons and their life is irreversibly altered. Loss of memory, coordination, and personality are all consequences of only losing a small fraction of your brain cells.
Even if the brain could be brought back intact, there is still the issue with the rest of the body. The common consensus is pretty much that cell damage would be so bad that you would end up with mush, or at the very least a cadaver. So even if they could reanimate the junkheap you used to call home you wouldn't be much more than a walking decaying zombie. On the bright side, you'd probably win every Halloween costume contest ever.
5. If you're not a zombie, cultural and temporal shock will make life horrific
Even if we get past all the issues with 1-4 now what? You've just been brought back to life not knowing where you are, the year, who the people around you are, or anything about the environment you're waking up to. How is that not one of the most terrifying situations imaginable? Complete and utter ignorance of everything. It would be like being born with a fully developed adult brain and wondering what the hell just happened. One second you're cozy in a nice warm bath and suddenly you're breathing air, cold, dry, and someone is smacking your butt and cutting part of your body off. What about that isn't terrifying?
Not to mention, people that were incorrectly declared dead and wound up waking up at their own funeral have died from the shock. If that's enough to kill someone, waking up from a cryogenic state is what? A million times worse? The sheer lack of knowledge about anything would be utterly traumatizing, something similar to waking up on an alien ship after being abducted. Scary and terrifying are the only words that could describe this situation.
6. Assuming it all works you'll probably be enslaved, shunned, or ridiculed
So humanity has worked out the kinks. You're alive. You're not a zombie. You don't mind the fact that you don't know anything about anything and you're ready to get in your flying car and zip around town. Then to your horror you realize you've been brought back to be a slave, or generate energy Matrix-style, or all "cryos" (as they have come to be called) are second class citizens like District 9 and are treated like crap, or humans have evolved to where your appearance constitutes a gross disfigurement and you are shunned from society. Is it too late to get a refund?