Aug 172020

Welcome back! You died, but you paid some hacks to cryogenically freeze your head and maybe body so you could be brought back to life after science cured death and whatever condition caused your death. And it worked! It worked just like you imagined it and you’re back! Welcome!

Just kidding- that didn’t happen. If you imagine anything like that happening you imagine wrong. If you’re dead, you’re still dead. If you paid someone to freeze you, you’re just a really expensive corpse of a really dumb person. But if that were the case, you’re actually still pretty lucky because there’s no version of you being dethawed in the future that wouldn’t be literally worse than the worst thing you can imagine.

The starting premise for this idea seems to be a vaguely imagined future that somehow values long dead humans enough to find a reason to dethaw and heal them. I want someone to really flesh that out for me. How does that all work? What does that society look like and what is their motivation to bring us back? Is there a contract to dethaw us out that someone is legally obligated to honor or is just out of the goodness of their heart? Are there not enough people in the future? Or maybe they want to interview us about historical events? None of that makes sense to me.

There is no legal framework for anything like that or any guarantee it would be enforceable by a future legal system, so that’s out the window. And I just can’t imagine people doing it just to be nice, plus I’m not sure it is nice. And if the future is depopulated or needs fresh genes or something they’d do a lot better to raid some sperm banks. Or just take your sperm or eggs without the ethical questions of costs of fully reviving you. Maybe we’re counting on being thawed out because of some antibodies in our blood they might need. I do like that sci-fi premise, but again why wouldn’t they just leave us in a coma and make us a blood farm? And I just can’t get over the vanity required to think the future cares enough about our personal opinions of the past to go to the trouble of reincarnating us.

I will concede if we found a frozen caveman that we could somehow thaw out and interact with, it would be pretty enticing. The problem with that comparison is that we would have something to learn from a caveman about their lifestyle because they hadn’t been writing and filming and tweeting about it with increasingly excruciating detail for the past 100 years. Also I think, or hope, scientists would see reincarnating an ancient human in modern times would be horrifying psychological torture for them and immoral as hell.

Okay, but maybe a descendent we’ve never met would want to thaw us out and provide the resources? I don’t know, I guess I can’t rule that one out because family can become a pretty bizarre institution. Still seems pretty far fetched to me but we’ll file that one under not totally implausible I guess.

But in general I wonder- if the level of technology is sufficient in the future to bring back frozen dead people, is there just not enough to do with that level of technology to benefit the living? Is the future bored, or so perfect they have to dig up old problems to solve?

And even if it was so trivial they could just flip a switch to bring us back- what’s next after they wake us up? We’re useless invalids in their society. Is there a retraining program they have set up to catch us up on maybe a century of human history and technological development? Again, why? Why would they do anything like that? 

What is our value to them, nostalgia for our ridiculous present? Doubtful. I think it’s probably way more likely the future would resent the past we came from and want nothing to do with the cultural baggage we’d inevitably bring into their world.

Oh but maybe we’re special, maybe we’re an Einstein or Tesla and they have a unique reason to want to meet us… idk, I guess I can’t rule that one out either but I think maybe the Vinn diagram of people of historical importance and people who think cryogenic preservation sounds like a good idea doesn’t really overlap.

Even in the delusionally optimistic scenario where we wake up in a world that even wants us there, the idea that we’d enjoy living in that world or have any chance of thriving in it is equally delusional. I’m sure a lot of people would like to believe they are superbly adaptable and open-minded enough to face whatever future they woke up in. And if I really think hard I can maybe think of a few people in history that were so far beyond their own time that they might make something resembling a functional transition to our world. But even that’s generous because I’m thinking of them in their prime, not after they died from something and got themselves frozen. I’d love to meet Nicola Tesla and he had a pretty progressive intellect. But if he got himself frozen after his death we’d have to cure his pidgeon obsessed dementia before we can even speak to him about viciously berating women about their looks. It’d be a long, unpleasant road for him before we can ask him what he thinks about string theory or something. It doesn’t even really make sense in the rare cases, but I guess I can’t rule it out entirely. Maybe Samuel Clemons could handle it, but then I can’t see a guy like that choosing it, so that’s the Vinn diagram thing again.

Anyway if there are humans that could stay sane through reincarnation and a century of cultural transition, they are exceedingly rare, I’m definitely not one, and anyone who thinks they are is very likely mistaken.

So I’m still waiting on any fully developed concept for how and why the future would even bother thawing us out, let alone how that could be a good thing. Actually that’s kind of a lie. I can think of a few reasons they’d bother. Actually without even trying I can think of a whole funhouse of nightmarish reasons they would bother.

So you’re a forgotten meat popsicle in a refrigerated warehouse somewhere. Maybe there’s a few pieces of paper defining who and what you are, and the conditions you were hoping to be revived in or whatever. Time passes, people die, paper gets lost, companies go out of business, assets get sold, you’re still a forgotten meat popsicle in a warehouse. One day someone actually figures out some interesting methods to revive dead human brains, but they are ethically unapproachable by mainstream medical research. But the animal trials were just so promising. So some Joseph Mengele wannabe sonnovabitch sets up shop in North Korea and buys a load of questionable assets from companies with embarrassing business models. Now you’re a forgotten meat popsicle in a shipping container headed to a research facility in North Korea.

I could get insanely graphic with this but I’m hoping that paints enough of a picture of where this is headed. In the best case you never actually experience the horrors that your revived flesh is put through, in worst case you may experience entirely new depths of suffering that a living human being could never experience because they could just die. So pretty much if you’re a straight up Cenobite Hellraiser level masochist looking to explore existential horror beyond mortality, then yeah, I guess go for it, cryogenic preservation might be a reasonable option for you. But unless that’s you, which it isn’t, you don’t want to risk a literal hell for a slim shot at being confused and alone in a future that doesn’t look anything like you’d imagined or hoped it would. 

So those are the main points I wanted to cover. The future has no motivation to thaw you out and treat you like a person at all, but it would still probably suck for you even if they did. Plus someone probably will have a motivation to thaw you out and treat you like meat, and that would suck way worse. So this is a general PSA- Don’t get cryogenically frozen. You’re already dead, that’s the hard part and you’re past it. Just stay dead, it can’t be that hard, cavemen have been doing it for thousands of years and they’re still fine with it.

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