Regular TechCrunch readers have probably noticed a slight rise in profiles related to Y Combinator in recent days, with the founders rushing to get media coverage before Demo Day next week. Today, the MIT Technology Review has given us the details of one of the most ambitious and sci-fi sounders yet.
The startup in question is Nectome, which promises to preserve people's brains, for when and if scientists ever develop a method to download your memories to a computer. (In fact, the site Nectome suggests that the company hopes to develop this technology itself.)
As co-founder Robert McIntyre told Technology Review: "The procedure is 100% fatal. He adds: "That's why we are ideally located among Y Combinator companies . "
Now, you may think, if they will preserve my brain, then they will have to remove it from my body … after my death, is not it?
Not quite. Instead, to ensure freshness, Nectome plans to connect terminally ill patients (under anesthesia) to a cardiac lung machine that will inject embalming chemicals into their arteries – and, as mentioned, this n & # 39; 39 is not a survival process.
"The user experience will be identical to physician-assisted suicide," McIntyre said. "People believe it works."
How far are McIntyre and his co-founder Michael McCanna? Well, they bought and kept the brain of a recently deceased woman. And McIntyre's research on pig brain preservation has also won an award from the Brain Preservation Foundation.
The founder of the foundation, neuroscientist Ken Hayworth, said that digitally recreating someone's consciousness from a preserved brain would be possible in 100 years: "In speaking personally, if I were facing a terminal illness, I would probably choose euthanasia by [this method]. "
However, Hayworth suggested that Nectome would have crossed a line by asking users to join a waiting list.
By the way, the price to join the list is $ 10,000, with a refund promised if you change your mind. And yes, people have already registered:
Up to now, 25 people have done it. One of them is Sam Altman, a 32 year old investor who is one of the creators of the Y Combinator program. Altman tells MIT Technology Review that it is safe enough that minds will be scanned during his lifetime. "I guess my brain will be downloaded to the cloud," he says.
However, not everyone is a fan of the idea. Critics include McGill neuroscientist Michael Hendricks. "Burdening future generations with our brain banks is just arrogant – are not we leaving them with enough problems?" Hendricks told me this week after reviewing the Nectome website.
"I hope that future people will be horrified to see that in the 21st century, the richest and most comfortable people in history have spent their money and their resources to live forever on the backs of their descendants.I mean, it's a joke, right? They are cartoon villains. "