If your end-of-life goals include preserving your brain completely intact at the synaptic level so it can potentially be reproduced in microdetail in the distant future and your consciousness reborn, then you’re in luck! A company called Nectome, with financial support from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health and the startup accelerator Y Combinator, plans to provide you this opportunity.
Nectome has perfectly preserved a pig brain—and amazingly, the brain of a recently deceased woman—using their technique. However, because the process requires the brain’s owner to be alive, the woman’s brain sustained some damage. Their success with the pig brain creates hope for a special population—terminally ill humans who wish to be euthanized using this technique.
Unfortunately, the procedure is literally a suicide mission, which of course raises ethical and legal concerns. Euthanasia is a crime in many states. However, with the end goal being life reproduced, the federal financing targets the development of the process, revitalizing brain research.
Those who undergo the future revival procedure should not expect their consciousness to emerge in the future as themselves. The brain dies in this process, experiencing a combination of cryogenics and embalming. If successful, an identical consciousness with all your precious memories, knowledge, and wisdom would be would be created. That’s a lot to wrap your head around.
Scientists hypothesize that consciousness is a product of the architecture of the neural network instead of some other aspect of the brain, such as its biochemical composition or nucleic acid sequences. Right now, we do not know enough to guarantee specific outcomes. This research would undoubtedly answer many questions. However, as with countless other biomedical experiments, there may be no definitive answers to ethical questions surrounding the wisdom and intentions of manipulating life in this manner. Regardless of these issues, the technique will likely yield promising, much-needed neurological research. And we will be one step closer to solving the mysteries of the human brain.