Recent breakthroughs in brain research and preservation have set all sorts of tongues wagging regarding the potential for the human race to effectively upload their minds and personalities onto hard drives – or, for now at least, to preserve their brains after death so that they can be brought back around for new technology. It’s all very sci-fi – but for one Silicon Valley billionaire, it seems that the future can’t come soon enough – at least when it comes to making his personality, thoughts and everything in between completely and utterly digital.
Sam Altman – head of YCombinator, an investment company – has made the news this week after it emerged that he is on a waiting list to be able to freeze his brain so that it can be then uploaded onto a computer – allowing it to be preserved indefinitely. He has paid the princely fee of $10,000 to be able to get onto the prestigious list, meaning that he is certainly serious about life after death – though death is the main factor in play here, as the company involved – Nectome – states that there’s no coming back from the procedure, at least in our current forms.
Robert McIntyre, who is one of Nectome’s co-founders, states that anyone wishing to take part in the process and scheme should be aware that the procedure is 100% fatal – meaning that if you do wish to have your memories and personality preserved for all eternity – for it to be eventually released onto a hard drive (or the cloud, as Altman himself has suggested), you are going to need to pay the ultimate price. That’s right – anyone wishing to preserve and upload their brains are going to have to be willing to die to do so.
Mind uploading and brain preservation are concepts that are both huge and ethically ponderous – and while Nectome’s services are not yet commercially available as a result of such quandaries and debates that are even yet to be fully discussed, it paints a picture of where we may be headed in terms of our evolution long term. While many people hope to go on living for as long as possible, forever is certainly a long time – and is this a risk that many of us would be willing to take? Sci-fi is leaping off the page and into the real world – and it’s fascinating to watch unfold!