James Bedford, a psychology professor at Glendale College in California who had just died of cancer, took his first step toward coming back to life. On that day, the professor became the first person ever frozen in cryonic suspension, embedded in liquid nitrogen at minus-321 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bedford was neither the first, nor the last, to attempt the impossible — beating death at its own game, according to Michael Shermer’s book “Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia” (Henry Holt), out Jan. 9.
With scientific advancements exploding at an exponential pace, some believe the Grim Reaper could soon be out of business.
Here are three ways scientists are striving for immortality that are getting so close to success that they would amaze even Bedford — if he ever wakes up.
Cryonics is the process of suspending a just-deceased person in a frozen state until the remedy for what killed them has been discovered. Then, theoretically, the person can be thawed out and cured…
Some believe that we will one day extend our lives by merging with technology. Singularitarians predict there will be a theoretical future moment when artificial intelligence will overtake and either merge with or replace human intelligence.
The premier evangelist for the singularity is scientist and futurist Ray Kurzweil, Google’s director of engineering, who created the first text-to-speech synthesizer and the CCD flatbed scanner…
Proponents of “mind uploading” go further than Kurzweil, believing that you won’t even need a body or a brain to exist, because one day human consciousness will live on a computer.
The key to uploading the brain is the connectome, which is a comprehensive map of the brain’s neural connections and pathways that equals the sum total of one’s brain function. Scientists are currently trying to figure out how to assemble and preserve the connectome of a brain. Once that’s achieved, they will theoretically be able to download a human being’s conscious mind.