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This startup wants to kill you and upload your consciousness to a computer, and people are already signing up

Published Mar 14th, 2018 2:27PM EDT
Image: Neil Conway

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While many new medical ventures like to hedge their impressive claims with warnings that sometimes things just don’t work out, one startup is declaring that their product will do something with 100% certainty: kill you. Nectome is a tiny company trying to do something monumentally huge by preserving your brain in digital form with unprecedented accuracy. The only catch? Well, they kind of need your brain in order to do it, which means you’re going to die.

As reported by MIT Technology Review, Nectome’s mission is allow you to live beyond death, though that’s where things start to get a little hazy. If all goes perfectly to plan, your brain, after being processed by the company during the procedure, will eventually awaken once more in a digital form. It won’t really be you, technically, but it’s still sort of you. Confused yet? We’re just getting started.

As far as modern science is concerned, cheating death is the ultimate impossibility. We’ve gotten to the point where cloning animals is a reality, and presumably the act of cloning a human being isn’t all that far off. Still, if you could great another “you,” it wouldn’t really do you much good because your body and mind and soul (for lack of a better term) is still bound by the laws of nature.

The same is true of Nectome’s brain preservation work. It’s still in the preliminary stages, but the company has offered a rough outline of how the actual procedure will go down. Keeping the patient’s brain fresh is of utmost importance for the process to actually work, so they need to begin embalming an individual’s body with their unique chemical cocktail while the patient is still alive. This kills the man.

The brain, meanwhile is stored in stasis where Nectome says it can remain for potentially hundreds of years. Then, theoretically, the relentless march of technological advancement will lead us to an age where preserved brains can be uploaded wholesale to a computer system and live on as a digital consciousness. That last part, of course, is entirely up the air, and Nectome is the first to admit that the fulfillment of its ultimate promise is really just a big waiting game.

This all might sound pretty strange and risky, and that’s because it is, but it hasn’t stopped people from joining the waiting list. The company is accepting $10,000 deposits to join the ranks of would-be patients, and over two dozen have already signed up.

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