The theory goes that your head would either be grafted onto a clone – or implanted into an android.
Already, around 800 people have chosen to be decapitated on death, and their head entombed in a vat of liquid nitrogen, while celebrities like Simon Cowell are planning on freezing their bodies when they die. (Maybe there will be an army of cloned Cowells in the future? Scarily, maybe some will have your head. Just a thought.)
But what are the chance of having your head successfully reanimated? And would you risk it?
Here are the reasons why I won’t be freezing my head any time soon.
There are no guarantees of success
Of course cryonics companies are going to say you’ll be revived in the future. Yet the chances of this happening any time soon are remote, according to most experts.
So how much faith should we have in these companies?
In actuality, it would be hard to resurrect Walt as he was cremated.
If the company can’t even get their promotional material right, what hope is there for reanimating your head in a few centuries’ time? Who’s to say the company will still be around in, say, 1,000 years?
What happens to your head?
OK, say you can be regenerated…
You would have to be the ultimate optimist to believe that preserving your head will lead to you being reborn in utopia.
Watch any sci-fi film about cryonics and they invariably end badly, with the reanimated person begging for death.
Who’s to say your head won’t be grafted onto a dog’s body for the amusement of the rich?
Or planted on a robot and subjected to all sorts of nefarious fantasies dreamt up by humans – or even aliens who have taken over the world, or Terminator-style robots?
Tormented by your memories
The most-likely scenario for early participants is that, if your head does survive, your memories will be downloaded.
This is played out in the TV series Cold Lazarus, where an evil media corporation broadcasts a dead man’s memories. And in Black Mirror, where a man’s personality is resurrected.
Who will control your memories? Are all your thoughts pure? If a corporation gets hold of your mind, they could broadcast the most salacious ones. Are you willing to go down in history damned by your own mind?
Surely, it’s preferable to write a book…
Who says you will come back healthy and pain-free?
The head contains the most complex structure in the body – your brain.
To regenerate each cell back to perfect health would be difficult even with the nanotechnology futurists are anticipating. There is no room for error. And they are working with a brain that was probably aged and at the end of its life anyway.
Studies have shown that freezing the brain in the short-term causes memory problems at the very least.
Imagine if you are reanimated and yet have a form of locked-in syndrome, where you are conscious but unable to communicate that fact.
Are you willing to take that risk? And also be subjected to further pain with the many resuscitation processes and possibly ops you will need?
The dislocation of dystopia
Many experts say it could be centuries before we perfect the technology needed to reanimate a person.
So say you are awoken from cryostasis in a few centuries’ time – can you imagine how the world will have changed?
You may be able to trace your descendants but you will have no friends or family, unless they have been successfully preserved and reanimated at the same time.
The future is likely to be over-populated and resources-scarce. You probably won’t possess the skills needed in society in the future, or the assets, so could be seen as a drain on society.
So it looks like you will only be alive again as a guinea pig for the pioneers of reanimation, before the experts find out whether or not their techniques are successful.
Your choice might well be a life of loneliness and destitution – or as a lab rat for some stranger’s experiments, begging to die.