Tales of Future Past v2

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Future Living

Here's a tricky one to evaluate, because it's one of those predictions like my Uncle Bernie picking up a cheque; it hasn't happened yet, but you never know. This depiction of man as Birdseye frozen dinner encapsulates the idea of preserving the dead by quick freezing.  The premise being that it's so that they can be revived in some future time when medical science has progressed so far that it's possible to not only revive the dead, but cure the illness that dispatched them, though I would have thought that the former was the just the teensy bit trickier of the jobs.

There are supposed to be a couple of thousand people who have willed their remains to the deep freeze at  up to $120,000 a pop, which shows tremendous faith in the utility companies if nothing else. Frankly, I'm a bit sceptical, despite umpteen sci-fi stories where people, aliens, dinosaurs, and oversized mantises are forever plopping out of glaciers fresh as a daisy.  

Never mind the metaphysical question of what happens to the soul after death -- what if memory turns out to volatile and vanishes when the brain is switched off?  Will the first cryonics pioneer be revived at some future date only to discover that there's nobody home?  And then there's that sticky little problem of what sort of a world you'd wake up in. Would it be a technological utopia waiting to welcome you as an honoured elder with a choice apartment and a fat pension, or would the first person you see be Dr. Zoidberg?

Having had some experience in freezing and human tissues, I know that the problems of preserving even something as simple as embryonic tissue without it coming out resembling thawed strawberries is fraught with all sorts of difficulties. The idea of preserving an entire human body (a dead one at that) without incurring massive damage is downright hair-raising.  In fact, the advantages of freezing are pretty much cosmetic. In terms of damage and chances of revival, you could do as good a job by freeze drying with the advantage of cheaper storage costs.

I'll grant that the jury is still out on cryonics, but the odds are long and the final verdict is rather like making an argument from inevitability (Given enough time, you can revive the frozen dead, Communism will eventually succeed, I will win the lottery, and Star Trek spin offs will cease to suck). Maybe someday it will be possible to repair all the damage from freezing, cure a fatal disease, and bring a corpse back to life, but there is a very large gap between the possibility of reviving the dead and the impossibility of doing so.

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