A Silicon Valley billionaire is paying $10,000 to be killed so that his brain can be preserved in the hope that it will one day be uploaded to a computer so he can live on digitally forever.
Sam Altman, 32, a tech entrepreneur , has paid to join a waiting list at Nectome — a start-up that promises to preserve your brain so it can – hopefully, one day – upload it into a computer to grant your consciousness eternal life.
And the method, the company can confidently assure, is “100% fatal”.
But Mr Altman, who co-created the Y Combinator program which funds start-up companies, told MIT Technology Review that he’s confident minds will be digitized in his lifetime.
“I assume my brain will be uploaded to the cloud,” he said.
And he is not alone. Twenty four other people have also paid to join a waiting list at Nectome.
The company essentially proposes to embalm your brain – while you are still alive – with the intention of uploading it to a computer if or when technology permits, so that you can live digitally forever.
Netcome’s chemical solution can preserve a body for hundreds or potentially thousands of years so one day scientists may scan your stored brain so it can be reborn as a computer simulation.
But because the process requires ‘fresh brains’ the embalming chemicals need to be pumped into the client while they are still alive – effectively killing them.
“The user experience will be identical to physician-assisted suicide,” Nectome’s co-founder Robert McIntyre, a computer scientist, said.
Nectome’s storage service is not for sale yet and there is still no evidence that memories remain, or can be extricated from dead tissue.
But the company already has a waiting list of future clients, ready to jump on the opportunity if or when the procedure becomes legal.
And it may be available sooner than you may think. Medically assisted suicide is legal in five US states and Nectome has already secured a large federal grant for its research.
It is collaborating with Edward Boyden, a top neuroscientist at MIT, and it has already preserved a pig’s brain so well that every synapse inside it could be seen with an electron microscope – a scientific breakthrough that won it an $80,000 prize.
Netcome said that the process would involve hooking up a living customer to a machine which would pump them full of Nectome’s embalming chemicals.
The company believes the process could particularly appeal to people with terminal illnesses.
Other US-based companies already offer cryogenic freezing, which preserve bodies after death in liquid nitrogen in the hope that future advances in medicine and technology will allow them to be reborn.