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Cryo-sleep and Suspended Animation would be incredibly disruptive technologies


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#1
starspawn0

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When people use the term "cryo-sleep", they usually mean one of three things:


* Literally freezing the human body, usually well below the freezing point of water.

* Cooling the human body to above-freezing temperatures, while keeping life processes still functioning, albeit it very, very slowly.

* Hibernation at temperatures near to normal body temperature, but perhaps as low as room temperature.


The last two of these are what the post is about: imagine in the near-future it becomes possible to slow your life processes way, way down, so that you basically don't age for the duration of the "sleep"...

The first thing to point out is that if the method is "hibernation", then you could be chronically sleep-deprived if it lasts more than several days. Animals that hibernate often have to come out of it briefly to sleep, before returning to the hibernation. But for stretches of several days at a time, hibernation should be tolerable and would slow the aging process down quite a lot.

The cooling method probably won't have this drawback, and it appears there is evidence that it is actually possible in humans: first, there are cases of people being trapped in ice or icy water for basically a whole day, who quickly recover after being warmed-up and after a little CPR. And there is also the now widely-used procedure of lowering body temperature before major surgery. This requires using drugs to inhibit the body's temperature regulation mechanisms, and involves replacing blood (temporarily) with a liquid to protect the body from damage -- but it appears to be safe. What we don't yet have is evidence that it is possible to safely cool the body to just above freezing for days at a time, in a repeatable fashion, so that upon recovery there is very little risk of damage to the brain and body.

Assuming this arrives in the near-future, here are some implications:

* First, if you are a sufficiently wealthy individual, who is frustrated with the pace of technology (e.g. life-extension and/or anti-aging), you could elect to "leave the world" for months at a time in cryo-sleep, venturing out occasionally from a cryo-clinic to check on how technology is progressing. All your friends would age by many years, while you would appear to age not at all. Eventually, when you see satisfactory progress, you would choose not to go into cryo-sleep again.

* Maybe the process becomes cheap enough to where large numbers of people start doing it, to save on aging for stretches of time in their life when they know nothing exciting is going to happen (e.g. during cold, bleak winter months for retirees). Perhaps there will be businesses similar to floatation tank services, whereby you sign a waiver, and then your body is placed in a pod for a month or two in suspended animation. If you did this a few months out of every year, you could expect to live to 120 years old or more.

Think of the effects on food costs, employment (number of services needed), energy usage, and other things. If enough people do it often enough, it would have a powerful effect on the economy.

* If you have an incurable disease you could have your body stored until a cure is found. This idea comes up in the film A.I. Think of how many lives would be saved. (Also think about the saved health care costs!)

* Young potential mothers, not ready to deal with the responsibility of raising a child, could have their fetuses placed in suspended animation until they are ready to give birth. (Perhaps it could even be tried after the child is born, but would certainly not be ethical.)

When could this arrive? Hard to say. I don't know enough about it to hazard a guess, but am pretty confident that it will arrive much sooner than major life-extension and/or anti-aging progress.
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#2
funkervogt

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Excellent post. 

 

 

 

* If you have an incurable disease you could have your body stored until a cure is found. 

Among incurable diseases, count severe mental illnesses that cause afflicted people so much torment that they want to kill themselves. See my thread on this:

https://www.futureti...uicidal-people/

 

 

 

 

* Young potential mothers, not ready to deal with the responsibility of raising a child, could have their fetuses placed in suspended animation until they are ready to give birth. (Perhaps it could even be tried after the child is born, but would certainly not be ethical.)

I've long thought that this could be the perfect solution to the "abortion" issue. Make abortion illegal, but make cryonic suspension of first trimester fetuses legal and free. 

 

 

 

When could this arrive? 

I think we'll find ways to freeze humans in a manner that doesn't obliterate their cells and tissues before the end of this century. However, we won't find ways to safely revive them until well into the next century. 


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#3
starspawn0

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I agree with you about "freezing".  Methods that don't actually freeze cells (keep them above freezing) will see use sooner.



#4
starspawn0

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I thought I would add this:

Company sent proposal to NASA for Mars missions for a cryosleep method that reduces metabolism by 70%:

https://www.ibtimes....-planet-1667286

Probably with even lower temperatures the metabolic rate could be reduced by 90% or more. That would slow aging, probably, too. So... if you are wealthy, there is likely to be a near-term method to extend your lifespan significantly -- long enough to benefit from technologies we only have the faintest inklings of today.
  • Yuli Ban and funkervogt like this

#5
zEVerzan

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I'm really into the idea of a very powerful person deciding to be put to cold sleep so that they could view their legacy and be rejuvenated by new technologies, only for them to awake in a world incredibly changed in a way that doesn't benefit them at all. Everyone they ever knew or relied on to maintain influence is dead, and they're basically lonely and old in a world so beyond their understanding that they've gone from being on top of the food chain to the very bottom.

 

Also, relevant xkcd

cryogenics.png


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I always imagined the future as a time of more reason, empathy, and peace, not less. It's time for a change.
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#6
funkervogt

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I'm really into the idea of a very powerful person deciding to be put to cold sleep so that they could view their legacy and be rejuvenated by new technologies, only for them to awake in a world incredibly changed in a way that doesn't benefit them at all. Everyone they ever knew or relied on to maintain influence is dead, and they're basically lonely and old in a world so beyond their understanding that they've gone from being on top of the food chain to the very bottom.

 

Also, relevant xkcd

cryogenics.png

At least that rich guy would still be alive. 






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