Are the cryonics technicians that freeze the dead a key to the immortality of human beings?

Are the cryonics technicians that freeze the dead a key to the immortality of human beings?


Technology is changing the way we work and the jobs we do.

Will artificial intelligence and robots be exempt from routine tasks? Will they facilitate our work life or will they completely take away our work?

As part of a new series of the BBC uture of Work (The Future of Work), we pay attention to the techniciansin cryonics , they try to help their clients cheat death.


Do you have an open mind in relation to the future? Do you have medical experience and can you complete tasks under pressure? Do you feel comfortable working in front of a corpse?

This is not the description of a job for a grave robber.

They are the ideal attributes of a cryonics technician: someone who preserves the bodies of the newly deceased with the hope that they will one day be revived.

Job advocates describe it as the “ambulance for the future.”

They say that as medicine advances, these technicians could become common in hospitals by “offering” believers a second chance in life.

However, there are doubts that it will become that way.

Buying time

The patients are stored in liquid nitrogen.  (Photo: Cryonics Institute)
Image caption Second chance? The cryonics technicians try to protect the body from decomposition by storing it at extremely low temperatures. (Photo: Cryonics Institute)

Cryonics is based on freeze someone after death is declared legally to keep your body and mind at least dañad you can.

This aims to buy time for the patient until the medicine can bring him back to life and cure him of whatever they have died.

As soon as the patient dies, the watch runs to start the procedure.

The heart stops pumping blood and the brain no longer receives oxygen, which means that in a matter of minutes the ability to create new memories is lost, and soon after the cells begin to die.

This means that the technician must get to work immediately after the individual is declared legally dead, cooling their body in an ice bath to stop the process of degeneration.

The blood is then drained from the body and replaced with cryoprotective agents, similar to antifreeze, in an attempt to stop the formation of ice crystals in the blood cells.

The body is then placed in a storage tank and brought to the temperature of liquid nitrogen (-196C) in an attempt to preserve organs and tissue.

Skills needed

Although cryonics has been practiced since the 1970s , in reality only the United States and Russia have small storage facilities.

In the state of Michigan (USA), the Cryonics Institute has approximately 2,000 registered live people and 165 patients who have already gone through the process.

Dennis Kowalski is the president of the institute and performs some of the cryonics procedures. During the day, he is a paramedic.

Dennis Kowalski (Photo: Cryonics Institute)
Image caption Dennis Kowalski is a paramedic and he says it is the perfect training for the procedure in cryonics. (Photo: Cryonics Institute)

“The training to be a paramedic is perfect to become a cryonics worker in standby mode,” he says.

“You also need someone with a funeral director’s license (because you’re legally handling corpses), experimenting with an infusion pump (to inject fluids into the patient’s circulatory system) and basic surgical skills.”

The role of the future

The Cryonics Institute operates as a cooperative with only three full-time members, but Kowalski believes that this will grow as the medicine evolves.

So far, only 5,000 people around the world have registered, but the numbers are growing, so funeral homes can start offering this as an option , he says.

“Artificial intelligence, genetic modification, stem cell engineering: all these fields are claiming what we are doing, which is to provide people with the best possible opportunity.”

One of the 5,000 is Dr. Anders Sandberg, a researcher at the Future Institute of Humanity at the University of Oxford.

Anders Sandberg (Photo: Fisher Studios)
Image caption Dr. Anders Sandberg chose to have his head preserved after death, although the possibility of reviving is only 3% (Photo: Fisher Studios)

He is on the board of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Brain and chose to keep only his head after death, despite the fact that a success rate is estimated for him to live on only 3%.

Like Kowalski, Sandberg argues that the skills needed to become a cryonics technician are already in use in many medical professions.

“At this moment, cryonics is seen as something impersonal and based on the belief that it is uncertain, but I think it will grow.”

“In the future, would not it make sense to have a cryonics technician in the hospital? When a heart or brain surgery is done, the body temperature is lowered to gain more time and I imagine that in the future we will start doing more surgeries at a low temperature. “he says.

“This is a job you could want to do if you started as a nurse, it would not be a great leap from a technical point of view, although it is social, since it uses arguments from medicine.”

“There is a lot of resistance, but from a practical perspective it makes sense and could save us from a lot of wasteful medicine,” says Sandberg.

Cryonics and cryogenics

Although they sound similar, the scientific community considers cryonics and cryogenics two different things.

The cionics specifically relate to the preservation of the human body after death.

The majority of those who support the process admit that they do not know if there will be technology to revive people or if the techniques used to prepare the body for storage will have worked.

Embryonic stem cells frozen in a laboratoryCopyright of theGETTY IMAGESimage
Image captionCryogenics has many applications in modern medicine and can be used in stem cell research.

Cryogenics , on the other hand, has many applications in today’s society.

It involves the freezing of matter at temperatures of -150C or less.

In medicine, this includes freezing embryos, ovules, sperm, skin and tissue to preserve them for future use.

Clive Coen, professor of neuroscience at King’s College London, suggests that the application of cryogenic techniques validated to the brain or the entire body is doomed to failure .

This is because the application of antifreeze during the preservation process does not reach the whole brain and it would be impossible to thaw every part of the body at the same time.

“The defenders of cryonics are naive when comparing their illusions with the successes achieved in the storage of very compact cells, such as sperm, at low temperatures,” he says.

Researcher in laboratoprio.Copyright of theGETTY IMAGESimage
Image captionCryogenics are currently working to freeze other organs.

“And they should not forget that any process of resuscitation that is not instantaneous will simply start the decomposition process again.”

But Professor Coen says that cryogenics is an exciting field.

Although the brain is too complex, cryogenics are currently working to freeze other organs. This could revolutionize the transplant process, which should no longer be immediate.

“People work hard in this field trying to store organs like the kidney and even the heart in the long term, that would be a great help to our health and well-being,” says Professor Coen.

“But a whole body? Forget it.”

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