A startup is promising to preserve the consciousness of dead people by simulating their brains through computers. To do this, the brains need to be extracted from people while they are still alive.
The targeted brain preservation process is similar to uploading data into computers and running them sometime after. The only difference is that the data will be uploaded directly from the brains.
Nectome aims to “to preserve your brain well enough to keep all its memories intact: from that great chapter of your favorite book to the feeling of cold winter air, baking an apple pie, or having dinner with your friends and family” – all this even after your death, the company said in its website.
“We believe that within the century it could become feasible to digitize your preserved brain and use that information to recreate your mind.”
Nectome’s cofounder Robert McIntyre explained to MIT Technology Review that the technology will use a high-tech embalming process which can keep the brain intact even after hundreds or thousands of years. Specifically, the process will involve connecting people to a heart-lung machine and subsequently pumping the big carotid arteries (found in the neck) with the embalming chemicals – all this while the person is still alive but injected with general anesthesia.
McIntyre said that they already consulted lawyers familiar with California’s End of Life Option and the latter believes their mission will not violate the law even with the process being “100 percent fatal.”
McIntyre led a team of researchers that won the Brain Preservation Prize in 2016 for preserving a rabbit’s brain.
As noted by the MIT Technology Review, there remains no evidence that memories can thrive in the tissues of a dead person’s brain. Nevertheless, 25 people paid $10,000 to be included in the wait list of Nectome’s future clients. One of those who made it to the list was Sam Altman, a 32-year-old billionaire who is also financing the Y Combinator program, an organization that will fund Nectome to continue with its mission.
Y Combinator is an organization that provides seed funding for startups that they believe have built something impressive enough to raise money on a larger scale. The organization can also acquire long term investors for any promising startup. Y Combinator funded Dropbox and AirBnB.
Nectome has also acquired $960,000 from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.