Lesser of Two Evils By Gina Miller June 17, 2003
"The lesser of two evils" encapsulates how many enthusiasts feel about their cryonic suspension arrangements; that is, being frozen is the second worst thing that can happen to you. The worst thing that can happen to you is to die without being frozen. If one is to die in the traditional sense, meaning conventional burial, he or she has a one hundred percent chance of never returning to life. Those who are signed up for cryonic suspension believe that even the worst odds, for example a zero point one percent chance of revival is abundantly more likely than the alternative.
There are risks involved in cryonic suspension, however none so great as anything more than the state of already being dead. There is a risk that it may not work, but if it doesn't you risk nothing, and if it does you have life to gain. One concern is that the ice crystal formation that occurs within the cellular walls from the liquid nitrogen may cause so much damage that the data stored inside the body can not be repaired. This ice fracturing may also prevent containing memories inside the brain. Since a person's experiences and personality requires that these functions be in tact, the suspendee may wake up without past knowledge of their previous life and be required to learn all of life's developments over again. The essential good thing that cryonic suspension does offer, is that it does preserve the structure of your brain. Although we do not currently have any technology that is able to make use of those preserved structures.
The development of nanotechnology is a good candidate to not only make use of the structure of the brain, but cure the disease that caused the individuals death, reverse the freezing damage done to the cells, reverse the effects of ageing and last but not least, restore the patient to a functioning living state. Many of those who are signed up for cryonic suspension are aware of the emerging state of nanotechnology and believe that it will be the science to revive them. For those who follow the advances of nanotechnology, and are signed up for cryonic suspension, it is obvious that they would prefer not to be. Cryonic suspension in this case, is merely a back up plan in the event that nanotechnology does not arrive within their lifetime. If nanotechnology were to arrive in their lifetime there would be no reason for cryonic suspension because their ageing could be reversed while they are still alive. Any impending disease in the future could also be detected and prevented by nanorobots that are roaming and monitoring the body. Nanotechnology by itself could provide a means to immortality.
When considering "the lesser of two evils" as it applies to cryonic suspension, it is interesting to note that the common reaction by those who are against it, is that technology is evil. This I find to be a common thread when new advances are introduced to society. In the age of assembly lines, pioneered by Henry Ford, Charlie Chaplin made a rather entertaining film which suggested that industry turns one into a robot. In the movie 2001, H.A.L. an artificial intelligence guide on the ship, turns against his colleagues by taking control and ending their lives. These are just a few examples of the many technology gone awry movie plots. The science in the end, is the antagonist. This is demonstrative of societies fear that advances will take over or have terrible results. This is not a bad quality, as I'm sure it is useful to man as a survival defense. It may also be useful in preventing these types of technological disasters.
I believe much of this fear stems from the newness of an idea. It makes perfectly good sense that cryonic suspension is uncomfortable, after all, so far, we have all been born to expect death. Through out the history of time everyone has died. We are conditioned to accept death, and have created heavenly states to make it easier. At the same time, this is also the desire for immortality. Man has always strived for immortality. Reincarnation, heaven, Egyptian mummification, and ghosts are all exemplary of our need to live on. Cryonic suspension purposes that reincarnation could be achieved in actuality, by using science.
There are several standard arguments made, for example, "when my time comes, it's my time to go." In response one might ask if they would like to die tomorrow, and the answer is usually no. "It's not natural", but there are many things in today's world that we make use of that are not natural, even some that extend our lives, such as artificial organs, pacemakers and antibiotics. "I would get bored", imagine how bored one would be if they were not alive! Imagine how much one could learn and do if they had all of the time in the world to do it. Between death, and another chance of life, I believe cryonic suspension is the lesser of two evils.