This article in a revised form can be found at Ieet.org
Robot: “Didn’t your mother tell you not to wake a sleeping Human?”
Android: “Yes, but I am curious, did they think?”
Robot: “Not so much in the way that you or I do. They had the ability to think, but they acted mostly on instinct or repeated learned behavior.”
Android: “Have you ever spoken to one? How do you know? Aren’t you just repeating behavior by telling me information you have not authenticated?”
Robot: “I have not, I am not, the evidence is sufficient to understand their nature, and besides it would be cruel and dangerous to awaken it into a world so beyond it’s ability to comprehend.”
In the posthuman world that the cryonically preserved may (or may not be) reanimated into, the question of what the future may hold could be ironically reversed. A curious futurist may decide to reanimate someone for a glimpse into the past, an insight into where they evolved from, a Jurassic Park of sorts. This was my first answer when I questioned myself with: Why would the future reanimate me? Cryonics is very much inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s observations of the flies that drowned in his wine and became reanimated by the sun. We do not go about reanimating every fly in our wine, likely because they would continue to be a pest, so why would an advanced culture/ species care to resurrect us? The simple novelty may be enough for a lucky group, like the two out of three flies, but without some type of dynasty trust to support your reanimation who in the future would pay your reanimation expenses and why?
Preservation is a becoming a popular trend with celebrities coming out as cryonicists and the cost becoming reasonable for most inhabitants of the industrialized world. Is reincarnation becoming a reality, or are we just creating a new form of mummification to fill the halls of a future Smithsonian exhibit? I was fascinated to discover that with all the rush to get people into cryonic suspension or Chemopreservation, that nobody sold, bought or really even so much as publically discussed a plan to be reanimated. The Life Extension Foundation has made some meager efforts regarding the establishment of a general trust, but the question and logistics of resuscitative resurrection are less thought out than the science behind them. We may well learn how to reanimate the dead before resolving the issue of if we plan to at all. A paradox that will create a true purgatory for those preserved.
If I were to be preserved and resurrected in the future I would wish to have useful years left on my life. As it is now you must die before you can be preserved, assuming the future could cure your cause of death is one thing but that they could restore health and vitality to your body crippled from the disease that killed you is an entirely different set of variables. Assuming medical science is so advanced to heal an 80 year old body back to even a 50 year old one, it is as reasonable to assume they could just grow a new body all together. And so it is that many people who choose to be preserved opt for a neural only preservation. This follows the belief that who/what we are is stored in our brains as complex data chains, a combination of biology and experiences. A later adaptation to this idea has been mindfiling, the concept that the information in your brain that is you can be downloaded into a program and uploaded, spacecasted or integrated in some fashion into the new you(s.)
To the best of our understanding, the reanimation process would cause significant memory loss. Mindfile sites store your life experiences so when you are reanimated, any missing information can be recovered. It also greatly reduces the logistical stress or necessity of reanimation. An adequately developed mindfile may allow near seamless continuity of consciousness, or at least a broader array of reanimation options that the future may find more appealing/ cost effective to utilize. The entire concept of self may be transcended when this approach makes it possible to exist as multiple entities in both the physical and cyber realities of the future. Already mindfile sites are coupled with Avatars or chatbots that allow you to interact with your mindfile. In the near future you may actually be able to have a conversation with yourself, play words with friends or chess against yourself, but don’t worry you’ll always get the last word with yourself.
Whether you wish your life to have a sequel or you aspire for joyful immortality, the incorporation of a mindfile is crucial. Alcor founders Fred and Linda Chamberlain who pioneered cryonics saw this and started lifepact.com, a self-interview guide to aide the creation of mindfiles. Despite the clearly marked path and free services of lifenaut.org and cyberev.org most people who plan to be reanimated have not bothered to mindfile. Instead lying down in the cold expecting they will be awoken by the sun when it returns in the spring. A future Ben Franklin may revive a few, the but purely physical reanimation as illustrated by the Android/ Robot dialogue may be seen as more trouble than it’s worth.
Like Momia Juanita or the Ice Mummy, entering preservation without a mindfile is tantamount to mummification. The majority of the cryonics community is racing to become the best preserved mummy, a curious parallel to the Egyptians. Mindfile reanimation through lifenaut or cyberev does have a framework you are able to choose upon joining; like physical reanimation however the technology is still under development. Physical reanimation of a body actually has no framework; the assumption that the future will be willing to reanimate you on credit is woefully naïve. Even with the actual cost of revival being estimated to be low, the profit incentive on such an idea is unparalleled. Many cheap technologies today are not reasonably available to the average consumer; and where they are we in mass voluntarily enslaving ourselves for access to technology that is already essentially free.
Let us suppose the future is an “ethical” place, does that necessitate their obligation to revive the preserved and/or uploaded? Ethics themselves are not the stuff that skyscrapers are built upon, they are more like beaches that maintain a mostly solid appearance but can change rather dramatically over time. Is it conceivable that the future may find it ethical not to revive the preserved or the uploaded or both? With the amount of consumption a biological body requires is it possible to see how physical reanimation may become to be considered unethical? The same needs to be asked of uploaded minds, does giving them form, or even maintaining those individuals in virtual realities violate morals we have not yet developed since these things are still theoretical? The future in many ways is like the ocean that is forming the beach we call ethics, it too appears to have a solid form to us at times, in reality there is a lot we may never know about it because it too is constantly changing. For those planning to have their bodies reanimated, a mindfile is a necessary part of that equation. In the future when push comes to shove over the issue of who will complete your reanimation, you could just do it yourself! We like to assume that the future will be ethical, but instead of making an ass out of u and the future, I’d like to have it in writing.