A tech billionaire has paid $10,000 to be on a waiting list to undergo a fatal process so his brain can be uploaded online. Yup, had to say that twice to get my head round that.
Entrepreneur Sam Altman is one of 25 people on a waiting list at startup company Nectome, which is promising to upload its customers’ brains to a cloud.
Altman, 32, who will have his mind ‘eternally preserved’, will have to die in a process ‘similar to physician-assisted suicide’.
Nectome’s co-founders, Robert McIntyre and Michael McCanna aim to preserve human brains in ‘microscopic detail using a high-tech embalming process’.
The process of uploading the mind results in the brain being ‘vitrifixed’ – the company’s term for turning the brain ‘into glass’.
Nectome has already won two prizes from the Brain Preservation Foundation, for preserving a rabbit’s brain in 2016, and a pig’s brain in 2018, writes the Guardian.
According to Technology Review, for the procedure to work, the brain must be ‘fresh’.
This new startup that wants $10,000 to murder you in the same room as a computer is called "Nectome" which is literally Latin for "when I have been killed" https://t.co/NR8BjG4pmz
— Joseph A. Howley (@hashtagoras) March 13, 2018
Nectome says its plan is to ‘connect people with terminal illnesses’ to a machine in order to pump its mix of scientific embalming chemicals into the big carotid arteries in their necks ‘while they are still alive’.
Altman told Technology Review he’s pretty sure minds will be digitised in his lifetime.
I assume my brain will be uploaded to the cloud.
There is a lot of philosophical debate, but to me a simulation is close enough that it’s worth something. And there is a much larger humanitarian aspect to the whole thing. Right now, when a generation of people die, we lose all their collective wisdom. You can transmit knowledge to the next generation, but it’s harder to transmit wisdom, which is learned. Your children have to learn from the same mistakes.
That was fine for a while, but we get more powerful every generation. The sheer immense potential of what we can do increases, but the wisdom does not.
People are dying today, and they're not interested in waiting for all the facts to be in. It's easy to lampoon #Nectome, but people who want it, should have access to our best guess of what might work. And in the meantime, this accelerates learning.
— T. Dalton Combs (@TDaltonC) March 13, 2018
Technology Review reported how the Nectome team demonstrated the ‘seriousness of its intentions’ in January, when McIntyre, McCanna, and a pathologist spent ‘several weeks’ at an Airbnb in Portland, Oregon, waiting to buy a freshly deceased body.
In February, they obtained the corpse of an elderly woman and were able to begin preserving her brain just 2.5 hours after her death. It was the first demonstration of their technique, called aldehyde-stabilised cryopreservation, on a human brain.
Fineas Lupeiu, founder of Aeternitas, a company that arranges for people to donate their bodies to science, confirmed that he provided Nectome with the body. He did not disclose the woman’s age or cause of death, or say how much he charged.
I can’t even begin to image what’s next…