Relevance to Less Wrong: Whether you think it is for better or worse, users on LW are about 50,000x more likely to be signed up for cryonics than the average person.
Disclaimer: I volunteer at the Brain Preservation Foundation, but I speak for myself in this post and I'm only writing about publicly available information.
In 2016, cryonics remains a fringe operation. When it is discussed in the news or on social media, many express surprise that cryonics is a "real thing" outside of science fiction. Many others who do know about cryonics tend to label it a pseudoscience. Brain preservation (BP) through non-conventional cryonics methods such as those using aldehyde fixation is even more fringe, with most people not aware of it, and others dismissing it because it uses "toxic" chemicals.
Here's a rundown of some events important to cryonics/BP in 2016.
- The Brain Preservation Foundation prize
was won in February by Robert McIntyre and Greg Fahy. Their winning technique uses glutaraldehyde fixation followed by glycerol cryoprotection (in addition to a step to improve blood-brain barrier permeability and several other components) and allows for the preservation of neural structure as verified by electron microscopy across the cortex. McIntyre has since started a company called Nectome
in part to improve and refine this procedure.
- Aschwin de Wolf of Advanced Neural Biosciences announced in November at the CryoSuisse conference
that Advanced Neural Biosciences has developed a method that reduces dehydration in rat brain vitrification by using "brain optimized cryoprotectants." There is no peer-reviewed data or more detailed procedure available as of yet, and viability of the tissue may be a concern.
- A right-to-die law passed in Colorado
. Although not directly relevant to cryonics, it increases the number of locations where it might be possible to start brain preservation procedures in a more controlled manner by taking advantage of physician-assisted suicide in a terminally ill patient. This has been described as "cryothanasia" and is controversial both within the cryonics community and outside of it.
- As far as I know, cryonics and brain preservation remain illegal in France, China, and many other areas.
Current Cryonics Organizations
- Cryonics Institute
- KrioRus. They are planning on moving to Tver, which is a few hours west of Moscow (see Bloomberg profile
- There are other organizations that only do standby and/or cryoprotectant perfusion.
Essays about cryonics
- Tim Urban's post at Wait But Why
about cryonics has wonderful diagrams explaining concepts such as why many people consider death to be a process, not an event. Like most everything Urban writes, it went viral and is still being posted on social media.
Cryonics in the news
- In April, a profile of Elaine Walker
, who is signed up with Alcor, on CNBC led to a moderately large amount of press for cryonics.