How much is your life worth to you?
If you suffered from a disease which might strike you down at any time; and a treatment was available, which cost six thousand dollars per year… would you be willing to scrape together that much cash for it? If the best available treatment only had a fifty percent chance of success… would you be willing to pay three thousand a year it? If the best available treatment only had a five percent chance of success… would you be willing to pay three hundred a year for it?
My own answers to all three questions are ‘yes’.
After reading and researching about cryonic preservation, my best estimate of its success – that is, eventual revival – is somewhere in the neighbourhood of five percent. I have also learned that arrangements can be made for one’s own cryonic preservation for around three hundred dollars per year. I have filled out the forms, signed the paperwork, sent in my first installment. (If you want to know how to sign up yourself, feel free to ask.) Put simply – I’m putting my money where my mouth is.
Medically, the procedure I have signed up for isn’t “freezing”, which involves ice; instead, it’s “vitrification”, which lowers the body’s temperature in a way that avoids the creation of tissue-damaging ice crystals.
Legally, according to the “Uniform Anatomical Gift Act” of my cryonic provider’s location, and the “Trillium Gift of Life Act” of my home province, what I’ve actually signed up to do is donate my whole body for scientific research. There’s no actual guarantee that, if vitrified, I will ever be revived – though that is the goal being aimed for.
Philosophically, I have not encountered any significant evidence in support of the idea of an immortal soul. The best conclusion I’ve been able to reach is that minds are processes created by brains, and when the brain is sufficiently damaged, the mind ceases to exist, like a candle blown out. If it’s possible to avoid dying, I’d rather avoid it; and for a number of causes of death, like getting hit by a car, there aren’t really any ways to avoid them, and only a few possible ways to even potentially survive such lethal levels of damage to the body… but people keep coming up with new tricks all the time, and it’s possible that whatever does end up killing me will be curable at some point in the future – and it’s also possible that the vitrification process will be reversible at some point in the future. I’ve already mentioned my estimate of that possibility.
So… if I don’t manage to live long enough for a technological Fountain of Youth to be discovered, then, if all goes well (or at least as well as possible, given that I’ll be dead), my body will be transformed into a glass statue – and, like Sleeping Beauty, like Rip Van Winkle, like the various Kings Sleeping Under the Mountain… like Han Solo in carbonite, like Dave Lister, like Khan Noonien Sing, like Ellen Ripley, like Philip J. Fry, like Captain America in the iceberg, like Buck Rogers… like Rana sylvatica… I will await the possibility of my eventual awakening.
And if it doesn’t work, then, worst-case scenario is that I just stay dead. Which is what would happen if I never signed up for cryo in the first place.