Three Oxford academics from the Future of Humanity Institute have decided to be cryogenically preserved, in the hope that they can be brought back to life in the future.
Prof Nick Bostrom and Dr Anders Sandberg, both philosophy researchers at the institute, have signed agreements to pay a US company to remove and deep freeze their heads when they die. A third researcher, Dr Stuart Armstrong, has opted instead to have his whole body frozen at the time of his death — a process that can cost up to £130,000.
The three academics have taken out life insurance policies, costing between £25 and £45 per month, which will provide funds capable of covering the costs of preservation. The process will be undertaken when the researchers are deemed terminally ill. At that point, a team from the cryopreservation company will wait until they are pronounced dead by a doctor, then use a machine to circulate their blood while the body is cooled and the circulatory system filled with preservatives and anti-freeze.
At this point, Bostrom and Sandberg will have their heads removed while Armstrong’s will be left attached to his body. The patient — or what remains of them — will then be cooled using nitrogen gas to -124C, before being chilled further and immersed in liquid nitrogen for storage at -196C. They will then remain cryogenically preserved until technology reaches a point where successful revival is possible, a process referred to as reanimation.
Bostrom and Sandberg will have their heads frozen by Alcor Life Extension Foundation based in Scottsdale, Arizona — which already boasts 974 members and 117 patients in cryopreservation. Of those, 77 have only preserved their heads. Armstrong has instead opted to use a company called the Cryonics Institute to freeze his body.
Speaking to The Independent, Armstrong, explained that the insurance costs required to fund the preservation are ”a lot cheaper than joining a gym, which is most people’s way of trying to prolong life.” In fact, he’s so enthusiastic about the process that he plans to sign up his unborn child, too. “If you picture the world in, say, 200 years, when reanimation is possible, it will probably be a wonderful place,” he went on to explain. “I want to sign up the baby so she has the same chance.”
Bostrom, Armstrong, Sandberg are all researchers at the Future of Humanity Institute, which is itself part of the Oxford Martin School.