Re: Future of Cryonics [was Re: I ask your views on Mike Darwin's posts]

Ken Clements (
Sun, 03 Oct 1999 12:41:43 -0700

"Robert J. Bradbury" wrote:

> [snip]
> Now, the obvious solution to this is to suspend yourself around
> age 70-100 (before you have lost a lot of function) and wait for
> the technology to get much better.
> Doing that requires a *significant* change in the legal environment.
> I suggested to the person I spoke with, that after she investigated it
> further, that Oregon might be an interesting place to put such
> an innovative idea on the ballot. They have a history of being
> very innovative in health care funding as well as things like
> "the right to die" [or suspend]. You probably want to do it
> after "The First Immortal" comes out as a movie.
> Robert

A member of my direct family is battling cancer, and my parents are almost 90, so I tend to think about this problem. What if you could be in suspension (for

the purpose of not loosing more function) and yet not be dead? I do not know the state of current hibernation research, but suspect that it would be politically easier to get funded than cryonics. I understand that slowing down

metabolism does not keep deterioration from proceeding, but it should be slowed

as well.

Suppose you were told that you have a degenerative disease, and are given one year to live. Now suppose that a hibernation technology was developed that could keep you at one tenth your normal metabolism rate for 24 weeks at a time. This would give you a schedule that would let you live your life for, say, two weeks every 6 months in which you would see your friends and family, pay bills, move your investments around, and let the court know that you are not dead. After the first year, you would have used up 48/10 + 4 = 8.8 weeks of your given 52 weeks to live. As you can see, this would give you a better shot at being around when a medical breakthrough gave you even more time.

It is also possible that this could lead to forms of treatment for some diseases. Having watched someone go through radiation and chemotherapy, I can tell you that it is something you would rather sleep through. I am confident that the new treatments that are coming on line will change all this soon, but we should keep looking anyway. I think that it is possible that some forms of chemotherapy would be more effective if the body temp is low enough so that the

fast dividing cancer cells stand out against the background of low metabolism body cells, and so that the chemical agents are not lost as fast due to general

metabolism. I could envision a system in which very low level chemical agents bioconcentrate in the fast cancer cells over a long period while you are suspended, and then when you are periodically brought up to full metabolism, these either kill those cells, or are markers for your immune system to come and kill them.

I think that cryonics is a good option for the dead. The point I am trying to make is that we should put some thought into the gap between the conditions of rapid deterioration (alive, but wasting away) and near zero deterioration (cryonics) for those who are not yet dead. Sometimes the best way to solve a problem (especially legal problems) is not to fight it head on, but to change the context to make it a non problem.