Many years ago I decided that when I died I would become cryogenically frozen when I died.
Of course, that decision carried no weight - the procedure costs more than one hundred thousand dollars, money which I didn't have to set aside.
A couple months ago I walked into Style's living room. Mystery was there.
I'm not sure that either of us has ever called the other by his real name.
"Want to see something really cool?"
Of course I do.
He pulls off his boot, and from under his sock he finds a stainless steel anklet. It looks like a medical tag.
"I'm getting frozen."
No way. We'd talked about it years ago when we lived in Project Hollywood, but he'd actually done it. Sure enough, his tag had instructions on it to call Alcor, the leading cryonics outfit.
"it's a lot easier than you think. You should get it taken care of."
So right. Is it expensive?
"Nope. You just get insurance for it. It comes out of your checking account every month and you don't worry about it."
Wow. Insurance. Why did I never look into this enough to realize that you didn't have to fork over the whole $150k in advance?
A few weeks later I sat at my computer and remembered our conversation. Time to get things done. I quickly found Rudi Hoffman, the best insurance agent for Cryonics.
I called him up, and was pleasantly surprised. He was super friendly, took a lot of time to answer all of my questions, and wasn't at all what I was expecting for an insurance agent. It turns out Mystery used him too. Everyone does, because he has connections with insurance companies that are cryonics friendly.
I went with $250k of insurance. I'm going with full body preservation. Mystery went with brain only.
It's a tough choice. Brain preservation is slightly higher quality (fewer fissures) and less expensive. Whole body preserves everything, so if for some reason there's a need for the rest of the body, it's there.
I picked whole body because from what I've read it appears that within my lifetime it will catch up to brain in quality. And even if it doesn't, the quality of the freeze is close enough. I'd hate to get to the future, find out that we still need bodies, and not have mine with me.
People who choose brain are basically betting that if we can reanimate people, we'll also be able to regrow bodies OR we won't need them (we'll all be in the matrix). Not a bad bet, either.
The costs from Alcor are around $30 a month. That includes membership fees which support future research as well as "standby", which means that if you get terminally ill or are in critical condition, Alcor will send a team to wait by your bedside.
Insurance varies greatly between people and situations. If you're young, as most of my readers are, it will be very cheap.
There are two viable types of insurance, universal life and term. Term means that you are covered for a certain period of time, and then the policy becomes worthless. I got term for 20 years and it costs around $25/mo.
Universal life will cover you until you die, but it is more expensive. Talk to Rudi and he will explain the different benefits and drawbacks to each.
I chose term because I know that I'll be rich within twenty years, and would rather pay less now. I also didn't like that UL was basically term with an investment component - I'd rather invest my own money.
I insured for $250k instead of the $150k required. I did this because future advances in technology may be more expensive (they're working on a better storage method right now). Probably a good idea.
Will it Work?
We can't bring people back from the dead. Not even close. We can't really even preserve a single organ for a long period of time, and we can't freeze animals larger than bugs and bring them back.
So we're a LONG way away. And to be totally clear, there's no guarantee whatsoever that I'll ever come back.
The scientists think that the current quality of freezing (more accurately, vitrification) is probably good enough that future technology will be able to bring people back to life. They think this because examinations of brain tissue that they vitrify seems to indicate that it is well preserved.
No one knows for sure, since we don't have the technology to revive people.
But... the idea is that in TIME, which we dead people will have plenty of, it will someday be possible to revive the frozen people. Think of how far we've come in 1000 years. How far will we go in the next 1000?
Why Do It?
Most people aren't too keen on the idea of getting frozen and potentially living forever. This is so baffling to me. I can't even begin to comprehend why ANYONE wouldn't want this.
I consider the likelihood of heaven, afterlife, or reincarnation to be just about a 1% probability combined. Not likely, but you never know. (For you religious types, there are some thoughts by clergypeople on Alcor's site)
That means that if I die I'm most likely looking at nothing. Just like when a plant or animal dies.
There are a million things that could go wrong with freezing.
Lightning could burn down the facility. They could run out of money. Pirates could steal my body and eat it.
Or maybe it will be something more mundane: there's just no way to revive people. The religious people were right and souls leave the body when you're dead and there's no way of coaxing them back in.
Who says they'll even WANT to bring us all back. Maybe there's no incentive.
These are all remote possibilities that, when added up, become a very real possibility.
ANY chance is better than NO chance. Period. The upside is SO HUGE (immortality and a chance to experience the future), that it would be foolish (to me anyway) NOT to do it.
Is $55 per month going to impact my life in any real way? No. Is the chance at living forever going to impact my life? It would quite possibly be the BIGGEST impact to my life besides being born in the first place.
Huge upside, minimal downside.
People always have these weird what ifs -
"What if they enslave you?"
"What if they use your body for science?"
"What if you come out all messed up?"
"What if the future is terrible?"
My answer is always the same. WHO CARES?
It's like the shot from half court that a basketball player makes at the buzzer. If it doesn't go in, then you lost nothing. No big deal.
Anyway, I'm working through the application process right now and won't be officially signed up until I get my medical test in the US in November, but I couldn't wait to write about it any longer.