Neuroscience: Brains of the Dead Can Be Preserved for Simulations of the Human Mind?

Can brains be preserved and revived later?

We have been dreaming of attaining immortality since the dawn of humanity. Now we could have come a lot closer to this dream. Researchers announced that they are offering the ability to conserve human brains with the help of chemicals to upload brain data to the cloud in the future, making them immortal.

  • Company offers to make brains durable.
  • In the process of preservation, the patient dies.
  • Brain data will be uploaded to the cloud in the future.
  • A simulation of the human mind will then be created at some point from the data.
  • Waiting list slots cost $ 10,000.
  • 25 people are already on the waiting list.

The scientists at the US startup Nectome offer to keep the brains of their customers durable for an extremely long period of time, in order to preserve the neuronal structure. In the future, the brain data will then be scanned and reactivated with the help of a kind of computer simulation.

In the process of preservation, the patient dies

The substance used for this process has already been successfully tested on animals. Blood flow to the brain is replaced by embalming chemicals that maintain the neuronal structure even when they kill the patient. In other words, the whole process has a big rag: The chemical agents used to preserve it have to be used on living people, but this process is 100 percent deadly, explains the founder of Nectome Robert McIntyre to "MIT Technology Review", the Magazine from the internationally recognized Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition, there is currently no method for uploading brain data.

Simulation of a biological neural network for the first time in 2024?

The brain must be very well preserved for the process if there is to be hope that it can be uploaded or reactivated at some point. For this, the process must be carried out at the moment of death, more precisely the process must be the cause of death. Another disadvantage for those affected is that a complete simulation of a biological neural network is not yet possible. The researchers hope to demonstrate the first such simulation in 2024. However, there is still no timetable for when such a brain loaded into the cloud has the ability to interact with the outside world.

Process is similar to medical aid to suicide

In the process of preservation, those affected will at least not experience any pain, the scientists explain, thanks to the pain medication that was administered. For those affected, the user experience will be similar to medical aid for suicide, McIntyre continues. Nectome believes the service they offer is legal in some U.S. states with certain euthanasia laws, including California.

A place on the waiting list costs $ 10,000

The company has already received $ 1 million from investors. USD 120,000 was obtained from a US start-up center (Y Combinator) founded in March 2005. A waiting list is now intended to generate additional income. Because if you want your brain to be preserved, you have to sign up on a waiting list and pay an additional $ 10,000. However, it is still unclear whether enough data can be read from a brain preserved by the company's method, which is required to create a simulation of the human mind.

Is the business model fraudulent?

Some critics consider the business model to be fraudulent because storing neural connections is by no means sufficient to use this data to generate a simulation of a person's personality. So far, however, 25 people have already been put on the waiting list and paid $ 10,000 for it. These assume that their brains will be uploaded to the cloud at some point.

The startup has already received two awards for its developed process

Nectome was founded in 2016. The process developed by the company has already received two awards from the Brain Preservation Foundation for the maintenance of a rabbit brain in 2016 and for the maintenance of a pig brain in 2018. However, the project appears to be extremely questionable from an ethical point of view, and assisted suicide is prohibited in many countries, including Germany. (as)

Author and source information

Video: Lisa Feldman Barrett: How the Brain Creates Emotions. MIT Artificial General Intelligence AGI (August 2020).