Friday, October 11, 2013

Brain Preservation & Mind Uploading to Overcome Death : A high quality brain chemical preservation procedure can save thousands, perhaps millions of lives. If we or one of our loved ones are faced with imminent death in the near future, we want the real opportunity to choose such a brain preservation procedure to keep them in suspended animation

Ken Hayworth
Says the Brain Preservation Foundation in an open letter aimed at raising awareness regarding the science, ethics and legality surrounding the emerging scientific process of chemical, whole-brain preservation. This document is intended for members of the government, medical and scientific communities as well as the general public. Those who agree with  the Foundation's observations and reasoning can sign an ipetition in favour of their proposal.

According to Ken Hayworth, President and Co-Founder of the Brain Preservation Foundation, with proposed imaging technology scientists can theoretically gather all of the circuits of a human brain - the connectome - to collect the data necessary to recreate a person. Hayworth is currently a Senior Scientist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus (JFRC) in Ashburn, Virginia. Prior to moving to JFRC, Hayworth was a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University.

The open letter has called upon the medical and scientific community "to seriously evaluate the possibility of chemically preserving an entire human brain at the ultrastructure level, to develop the surgical techniques necessary to do so, and when a verified protocol is developed, to work with appropriate members of the medical and governmental community to integrate an elective chemical brain preservation procedure into mainstream medical practice in hospitals in every country of the world." The letter further says "We profess this right because we realize that sooner or later we will contract an illness for which current medical practice is insufficient to prevent our death. At which time, instead of simply allowing the natural decay process to proceed, we should have the option to have the exact structure of our brain’s neuronal circuits immediately preserved by the best means possible, which by today’s laboratory standards is rapid glutaraldehyde fixation (via vascular perfusion) followed by further chemical fixation and embedding in plastic for long‐term storage."
We live in very exciting times. Soon, people all over
the world may have at least two reliable and proven
ways to preserve their brains, including their
individual memories and identities, after they die.

There are many who would desire the option to perfectly and inexpensively preserve their brains at the nanometer scale today, for the possibility that future science might be able to read their memories or restore their full identities, as desired. millions of people have at least briefly considered the possibility of having themselves or their loved ones cryonically preserved (very low-temperature preservation and storage) in the hope that future medical technology might revive and cure them. Giving sceintific details of the process, the letter says "We choose brain preservation over natural decay because we accept the current scientific consensus that
our unique conscious self is generated by processes within our physical brain. Further, we accept that all the memories, skills, and personality traits that make us unique are hardwired into the physical and molecular connections among our brain’s hundred billion neurons. Such a structural basis of memory and personality is demonstrated by the fact that surgical patients are often put into a state of Profound Hypothermia and Circulatory Arrest (PHCA) in which all patterned brain activity is halted for up to a full hour, yet these patients revive with memory and personality completely intact. The structural basis of memory and personality – the synaptic connectivity between neurons – can be preserved essentially perfectly by today’s chemical fixation and plastic embedding techniques. Extrapolating from current technologies for the nano‐imaging of plastic embedded brain tissue, we believe that one day science will have advanced sufficiently to allow complete retrieval of memories from such a preserved brain. Thus, to us, brain preservation is a way to prevent the permanent loss of our uniqueness and a way to pass this uniqueness on to future generations."

The letter has sought that the brain preservation procedure must be considered an emergency surgical procedure demanding as rapid a response as CPR, defibrillation and PHCA. Under today’s laws, if a patient’s respiration and blood flow has ceased, if there is no brain activity, and if current medical techniques are unable to restore these processes within a relatively short period of time then the patient is declared legally dead. In current law there is no consideration given to the possibility of preserving the patient in a static state for long periods of time (decades) so that they can reach future medical technology capable of bringing them back to life. These laws must be modified to reflect the advances in science and technology that have made such a scenario likely.  

Hayworth, in his recent paper in the International Journal of Machine Consciousness, has discussed in detail the roadmap to achieve the goal of Brain Preservation & Mind Uploading, what he calls, "landing a man in cyberspace and returning him safely to consciousness."

The Brain Preservation Foundation has announced a cash prize for the first individual or team to rigorously demonstrate a surgical technique capable of inexpensively and completely preserving an entire human brain for long-term (>100 years) storage. The Foundation feels that the development and deployment of a standardized, high quality Whole‐Brain Plastic Embedding (WBPE) procedure is going to be an important achievement to advance the research to achieve the final goal.

Interested? Sign the ipetition.

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