Not Even Close

Now there’s a misleading headline!

According to CBS Denver, “Startup Offers ‘100 Percent Fatal’ Procedure To Upload Your Brain“.

Even a cursory reading of the article, something the headline writer must have neglected to do, reveals quite a different story.

What Nectome is actually offering to do is plasticize not-quite-dead people. Or maybe “glassticize” would be a better word; the article says the process will turn a body into “a statue of glass” that will last for centuries.

Regardless, there’s no cloud upload involved. The founders of the company are just hoping to preserve bodies at the instant their process kills their clients in the hope that someday there will be a way to read the memories locked in the glass brains and computerize them.

Assuming this isn’t a hoax–and it wouldn’t be the first time a news agency has been fooled–it’s still a horribly speculative notion. Reaching their goal would require at least three major and separate medical and technological breakthroughs:

There’s no evidence that memories are preserved in the brain after death. Nobody is anywhere close to reading memories out of a living brain, much less a dead one. And AI technology capable to preserving a human mind is even farther from realization.

I only see only significant difference between Nectome’s approach and the bizarre idea of cutting someone’s head off after they die and freezing it in the hope science will eventually be able to unfreeze it intact and grow it a new body: if you get Nectomed, your heirs can stand you up in the corner of the living room, instead of paying thousands of dollars to a cryogenic facility.

Someone needs to remind Nectome’s founders that it’s only in the performing arts that you can legitimately suggest that someone go out and knock ’em dead.

4 thoughts on “Not Even Close

  1. The wording of the headline is as bizarre as your interpretation of it. I read it as an opportunity to “upload” a “100% fatal procedure” for “your brain”.
    How this might be done and, more to the point, why anyone would want to do it puzzled me, but I’m already puzzled by so many of the things I read on my feed every morning that another scarcely registered.
    There’s the guy, for example, who is seriously arguing that “the problem” of baseball games lasting so long could be solved by simply not having the team that is ahead bat, in the last three innings. That is, if one team is up, say, by six, coming into the 7th, the last three innings are halved, with only the team that’s down batting, the other team just playing defense. That could shorten the game by a third, he argues, and eliminate those “boring” blowouts, where half the crowd gives up and heads for the exits, anyway.
    That it would also eliminate one of the most exciting things in baseball, the “down” team scrappily refusing to lie down, fighting back to win, or at least make it a close game, hasn’t occurred to this mental vacancy, it seems- or, he just doesn’t care, since he usually leaves at the end of six innings, anyway, whatever the score, and he probably spent the entire game looking at his phone.
    That’s what I mean. With ideas like that seriously being considered by anyone, some days I’m about ready to upload a fatal procedure for my brain…. and then, I realize that baseball, real baseball, begins in less than two weeks, and I have tickets for a late exhibition game, sooner than that, and… yeah, thanks for the offer, but I’ll pass.


    • Your interpretation is easy. 120 volts administered via the ears is probably close enough to 100% fatal for the FDA. Even better, it’s well-understood technology.

      Interesting point raised by one of the commentators on the Mariners’ broadcast last night regarding some of the rule changes they’re introducing in the minors this year. He’s in favor–or at least, not opposed–as long as they stay in the minors. Shorting the pitch clock should establish good (i.e. in line with historical norms) habits early, and they’ll carry those habits into the majors. Putting a runner on base to start extra innings should shorten games, which is (he says) probably a good thing for kids who are still developing.

      I’m not sure I buy all of his conclusions, but he’s got a reasonable argument.

      As I’ve said before, I’d be okay with a pitch clock in the majors as well, as long as the existing rules about batter delays between pitches are also enforced. (Now that Ichiro is back with the Mariners, I’d be really interested to see how pitcher and batter clocks played out against his well-known sleeve adjustment routine.)

      But bring the free runner to the majors, and I’ll be screaming in pain as much as anyone.


  2. God, this is macabre. I am a giant fan of the gonzo author Robert Anton Wilson (Illuminatus), but I hit a screeching halt in his memoirs when he described how his longtime “Immortalist” resentment of death led to his authorizing the cryonic preservation of his daughter’s brain afer she was tragically killed in a retail holdup. People do irrational things at these times, but to me, this is almost as grotesque as mummification. Ew.


    • No argument from me, other than “almost”?

      I can kinda, sorta see the sense in cryogenic preservation of the entire body, and almost see the logic behind freezing a head–if medicine reaches the point where it can thaw everything out and heal whatever killed you, it can probably grow you a new body too–but just the brain? I mean, the skull is there for a reason. Wouldn’t just handling the brain in preparing it for freezing do even more damage?


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