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Would You Die to Have Your Brain Digitally Preserved?

Next-gen technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated. With computer chips that are capable of mimicking functionality seen in the human brain to the ability to edit one's own DNA, it's an interesting and exciting time to be alive. Which begs the question: would you die to be amongst the first humans to have their brains digitally preserved? Some people are racing to sign up.

Who is Providing the Service?
The new startup – known as Nectome – is pioneering new grounds in the IT sector. Through a process known as vitrifixation, or aldehyde-stabilized cryopreservation, the company promises to upload a virtualized, digital copy of your brain – but you have to be willing to die in the process. According to the company, the method used during this process is "100% fatal."

A recent statement by the company's founder, Robert McIntyre, states: "The user experience will be identical to physician-assisted suicide." A short statement on their official website reads: "Our mission is to preserve your brain well enough to keep all its memories intact: from that great chapter of your favorite book to the feeling of cold winter air, baking an apple pie, or having dinner with your friends and family."

In other words, it's a painless – yet highly controversial – process. There are also serious questions about the legality of the procedure, especially considering the fact that physician-assisted suicide is only legal in five of the 50 United States.

Who is Signing Up?

It's easy to chalk this up to another fad or hare-brained idea that will eventually fade out – but it's generating interest from many people. Nectome already boasts a waiting list of 25 people, including their latest sign-up: a billionaire entrepreneur from Silicon Valley named Sam Altman.

Apart from an indefinite wait, there is also the fee of $10,000 – which is refundable if one should change their mind at a later date. While Nectome has posted a full research timeline on their website, the team hasn't yet established an exact date for beginning any procedures.

Nectome started their project with the support of MIT, but they institution recently cut ties with the company. A statement from MIT reads, in part: "Neuroscience has not sufficiently advanced to the point where we know whether any brain preservation method is powerful enough to preserve all the different kinds of biomolecules related to memory and the mind. It is also not known whether it is possible to recreate a person’s consciousness."

In fact, Nectome's idea isn't entirely new. The Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Arizona already preserves more than 150 bodies – including their heads and brains – for future research in cryobiology and cryonics. The most prolific body in their possession belongs to baseball legend Ted Williams.

The Future of Digital Brain Preservation

While Nectome's new service is one of the most ambitious and innovative uses of technology we've seen thus far, there are serious concerns – surrounding ethics and legalities – that will almost certainly slow it's progress. For more information, visit their official website at {{|}}.


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