Suspended Animation Conference 2011: Cryonics Scientists, Practitioners and Enthusiasts to Gather in Fort Lauderdale, May 20-22

· January 25, 2011

Cryonics – the use of low temperature to preserve bodies no longer maintainable by contemporary medicine, with the hope of later resuscitation – is far from a new idea.  The practice goes back at least to 1967, when James Bedford was cryo-preserved by the Cryonics Society of California.  But the technology has progressed tremendously since then, with organizations like Alcor and the Cryonics Institute making use of advanced techniques for preserving cryonics patients with less and less damage, increasing the odds of eventual successful resuscitation.  Most exciting has been the development of vitrification, which allows the preservation of the body in a special glassy state, avoiding the damage ensuing from the traditional freezing process.  And millions of dollars are being spent to keep the science and practice of cryopreservation moving forward.

If you’re interested to learn more about this technology – with a view toward contributing to the science or practice, or maybe being cryo-preserved yourself – you may be interested in the Suspended Animation Conference being held later this year in South Florida.  During May 20-22 2011 cryonics scientists and enthusiasts from around the world will gather at the Hyatt in Fort Lauderdale to learn about and advance the state of the art.  Speakers will include cryonics pioneers such as Dr. Steve Harris, Dr. Brian Wowk, Dr. Greg Fahy, Dr. Ralph Merkle and more.

Furthermore, after the conference presentations, attendees will get the chance to visit Suspended Animation Inc.’s nearby laboratory and witness cryo-preservation technology first hand.  Unlike Alcor and the Cryonics Institute, which handle both preservation and storage of patients, Suspended Animation focuses only on the first stage, getting the patient’s body effectively vitrified; storage must then be handled by a separate organization (such as Alcor or CI).  The concept is that this more specialized focus will allow Suspended Animation to truly excel at their task.

I have to disclose a certain bias here: I myself am signed up for cryo-preservation via Alcor, in the unhappy event that my quest for non-cryonic immortality doesn’t pan out.  I don’t particularly want to have my body frozen – I’d rather keep breathing, or get directly uploaded into a robot or some such.  But, to put it crudely, freezing seems more hopeful than rotting!  If you think this sounds sensible you may wish to head to Fort Lauderdale to hear more details.  And if you think it sounds crazy, hey, maybe you should check it out anyway, just in the spirit of open-mindedness.  South Florida’s quite pleasant in the late spring!

5 Responses

  1. Mark Plus says:

    We’ve seen the same guys speak at these conferences for 20 years or more. I don’t doubt their motivations for wanting to live, and I don’t disparage whatever crystallized intelligence they bring to the table.

    But as far as I can tell, these men have run out of ideas. Cryonics need some serious rebooting to break away from its technocratic command economy, and I’d like to see the development of an open innovation model and inducement prizes to attract fresh human minds and a lot more resources to the project.

    And, as you know, I have a problem with the role of “nanotechnology” in cryonics, because I don’t think the clankety-clank version imagined by Drexler and his friends can exist in our universe.

    Basically I propose the following scenario: Cryonics has some problematic legacy ideas from both Robert Ettinger’s “Mad Men” era writings in the 1960′s, and from the writings of frustrated L-5 Society members in the 1980′s who realized that they couldn’t colonize space in their lifetimes and started to grasp at straws like “nanotechnology” and “mind uploading” to try to buy more time. If someone invented cryonics now as a new idea, how would he go about making the case for it without this baggage, but based instead on current scientific and technical knowledge and plausible extrapolations from the same? Turning cryonics into an open innovation project could do something like this, and result in new insights and avenues for progress the long-time researchers hadn’t seen.

  2. Ben Goertzel says:

    Mark Plus…

    Firstly, I must say that I have found the cryonics community to be quite open to new ideas.

    Also, unlike what you allude, there have been new developments in cryonics since the good old days — vitrification being the obvious example. I would love to see more $$ going into cryonics research, and I’m sure this would lead to more and more exciting innovations. In my view the main bottleneck in cryonics research currently is not interesting ideas for better cryonics tech, but rather funding for experimentation with, and subsequent refinement of, these ideas.

    You mention open innovation. Actually I’m a huge booster of open-source software and hardware, and I would love to see an open-source cryonics technology initiative. However, I don’t really think lack of openness is a major problem in the cryonics world. I would bet that if you wanted to do cryonics research yourself, you’d find most existing cryonics researchers — even if working in commercial companies — more than happy to their their ideas and experiences, even at a fairly detailed level.

    You mention prizes to encourage innovation. I think that’s a great idea for cryonics, actually — I’d love to see a Cryonics X-Prize!! However, putting together a serious prize requires either a lot of money to spare; or a lot of connections and time and a particular sort of bent for salesmanship. It’s an obvious idea, the problem is executing it, right? Do you plan to take a shot at raising funds for such a prize yourself?

    Also, let’s not delude ourselves that offering prizes is some sort of cure-all for hard science and technology problems. The Methuselah Mouse Prize is funky and laudable, for example, but it’s not really the driving factor behind modern longevity research. Prize money is valuable mainly as a catalyst for R&D funding from other sources, which then does the “heavy lifting” funding-wise.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hey “Mark Plus”,

    When are you going to open up your own blog to the comments posted on it? It seems, from this behavior, that you are not open minded yourself and are unwilling to post polarizing views on your forum. If this is the case, why bother even having a blog? It sure is nice of you to criticize and conveniently quote “nanotechnology” and “mind-uploading” on this forum post and your blog without offering any real viable solutions yourself. It sure is fashionable to criticize cryonics, and easy to criticize its so-called short comings when written from such an ignorant, short-sighted angle as you have.

  4. Peter Christiansen says:

    “I myself am signed up for cryo-preservation via Alcor, in the unhappy event that my quest for non-cryonic immortality doesn’t pan out.”

    Exactly the same reason I sign ed for cryonics. Frankly I hope I am wasting my money but in the unfortunate case that I am not, at least I will be contributing to the science of cryonics and have another shot, albeit perhaps a long one.

    Not being suspended is so – well – 20th century.

  5. Matthew Deutsch says:

    @Peter; Well said.
    I am a teenage Alcor member, my number is A-2561-N.

    My view of current medical standards for death is if I go into irreversible cardiac arrest, having mainstream doctors handle me instead of cryonics personnel is like having Sweeney Todd remove my tonsils.

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