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The Brain Preservation Prize - John Smart - H+ Summit @ Harvard

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John M. Smart
Co-Founder, Brain Preservation Foundation
The Brain Preservation Prize:
Why Inexpensively Preserving Our Brains After Death is a Good Thing for Ourselves and Society, And What You Can Do to Help

Roughly 150,000 unique and highly experienced human beings die every day, 55 million every year—a staggering loss of diversity and complexity for our planet. While modern medical science has barely begun to make progress in preventing biological death, we have learned in recent decades how to easily and cheaply preserve the brain structures that encode our unique memories and personalities using plastination, or chemical fixation and embedding in plastic for long-term storage. Very recently, we have also learned how to verify that these unique structures have been successfully preserved. Due to its low cost (likely much less than a casket burial) and validation ability, brain (or body) plastination may become an option for anyone who would choose to exercise it in coming years.

There are a wide range of reasons and motivations for preserving our brains, the essence of our unique, individual experiences and identities. Some may do it for science (an anatomic gift to the ‘human projectome’) or in pursuit of a more scientific, democratic, free, or secular society today. Some may desire not to be revived in the future as a conscious entity, but rather to leave their memories and experiences for their loved ones, as an extension of the digital memorials we see today. Some will desire to be consciously revived and have their patterns “uploaded” into a future robotic or virtual body or “reintegrated” into a future biological body. Some will leave such issues to future generations to decide.

Curiously, given the accelerating technological change we have seen in the last century, it has become reasonable to expect the emergence of general artificial intelligence (GAI) within this century. Were this to occur, progress in nanotechnology, machine automation, medical science, and other fields relevant to reanimation might then shortly follow. As a result, our individual memories, or our conscious selves if desired, could then be brought back not in some far-future environment, but in a world where many of our friends and loved ones are still alive. The relevance and value of preserving our unique memories or selves should be beyond doubt in that scenario. To those seeking major ways to improve the human condition today, making the brain preservation option available and affordable to all, so that we all have free choice to exercise it or not, is a future very much worth fighting for.

The nonprofit Brain Preservation Foundation has been created to administer the Brain Preservation Prize, a series of awards for breakthroughs in brain preservation technology and services. We hope you will join us in our work to promote, better fund and execute this prize, support the international teams who will labor to win it, and help us to make brain preservation an option for all in coming years.

John M. Smart is an evolutionary developmental systems theorist who studies science and technological culture with an emphasis on accelerating change, computational autonomy, and foresight. He is co-founder of the Brain Preservation Foundation (BPF, BrainPreservation.org), stewards of the Brain Preservation Prize, and director of the Acceleration Studies Foundation (ASF, Accelerating.org) a nonprofit research organization that seeks to help individuals better understand and manage accelerating technological change and improve personal and collective foresight. He is associate professor and program champion for the Emerging Technologies MS and Technology Studies BS at the University of Advancing Technology (UAT.edu), and co-founder of the Evo Devo Universe research community (Evodevouniverse.com).

For further information on John Smart's presentation, visit accelerationwatch.com

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The Brain Preservation Prize - John Smart - H+ Summit @ Harvard

  1. 1. The Brain Preservation Prize Why Inexpensively Preserving Our Brains When We Die is a Good Thing for Ourselves and Society, And What You Can Do to Help H+ Summit Harvard  June 2010 John Smart, Co-Founder, Brain Preservation Foundation johnsmart@gmail.com Brainpreservation.org
  2. 2. The Promise of Chemopreservation, or “Plastination” • Medical Science • Computer Science • Neuroscience • Electron Microscopy Anatomists can grossly preserve (for fine tissue display) whole human bodies. Electron microscopists can perfectly preserve neural tissue at millimeter scale. Can we do the latter for the whole brain? © 2010 BrainPreservation.org
  3. 3. The Brain Preservation Prize A Model We Greatly Admire: • Preservation Protocols • Verification Protocols • Motivation 25% of Prize First Whole Mouse Brain, Using any preservation protocol. 75% of Prize First Whole Pig Brain, Using a protocol adaptable to humans. © 2010 BrainPreservation.org
  4. 4. The Brain Preservation Foundation A 501c3 (pending) Mission • Prize admin, fundraising, and outreach to potential competing teams. • If prize is won, strong global advocacy for brain preservation affordability and access. Current Prize Purse $100,000 Can you help us increase it? © 2010 BrainPreservation.org
  5. 5. Plastination vs Cryonics: A Potential Disruptive Technology Brain Preservation Adoption Factors • Cost • Simplicity • Dependability • Validation • Have my friends done it? Cryonics $30,000 and up. Ongoing freezing systems required. Progress in protocols, but still unverified. Plastination Est. initially $20,000 to… $10,000? Hail The Pioneers $5,000? 1967 to Today Simple, dependable, potentially verifiable. © 2010 BrainPreservation.org
  6. 6. The Plastination Process in Overview Emergent Hospital or Hospice Setting: • Glutaraldehyde Protein Fixation Contract Preservation Setting: • Osmium Tetroxide Lipid Fixation • Plastic Resin Cell Fixation For the Prize Only: • Nanoscale Validation For Emergency Glutaraldehyde Perfusion (EGP) to be a Legal Postmortem Choice, with Priority over State’s Right to Destructive Autopsy, Laws Will Need to Change. Except in Switzerland and a Few Other Foresighted States. © 2010 BrainPreservation.org
  7. 7. Motivations for Plastination: The Human Connectome, Biomimicry, and Bio-Inspired Machines Brainbow (multiflourescent mouse brain) Jeff Lichtman and Joshua Sanes, 2007 © 2010 BrainPreservation.org
  8. 8. Motivations for Plastination: Cultural Preservation, Human Experienceome, Virtual Memorials What would it be like to see the world from the eyes of others? To see yourself from your friends and “enemies” perspectives? Greg Panos and his ‘Digital Mom’ PersonaFoundation.org In the future, we may read brain images without reviving a person, if they so desire it. “Jack into a Cat’s Brain,” http://bit.ly/byj1df (Stanley et. al., J. Neurosci. 1999) © 2010 BrainPreservation.org
  9. 9. Motivations for Plastination: Accelerating Change, Uploading, Patternism, Digital Self Our Individuality/Identity/Self (NCI) Contains: - Consciousness (Self-Awareness) (NCC) - Awarenesses (Experiences) (NCA) - Emotions (NCE) - Thoughts (NCT) - Memories (Data) (NCM) Consciousness is transitory, variable, cycling, activity-dependent. Like a pattern in a stream. Identity is much more persistent. © 2010 BrainPreservation.org
  10. 10. Motivations for Plastination: Pascal’s Wager – Preserve Now, Decide the Rest Later Who decides later? • Family • Institutions • State • Your Avatar (if intelligent) • “Future Society” The humblest (and most popular?) choice. © 2010 BrainPreservation.org
  11. 11. Next Steps – What We Are Doing 1. Publicizing the $100,000 Prize to Potential Teams 2. Fundraising to Increase the Prize 3. Formalizing our Nonprofit, Building our Board 4. Funding and Hiring a Summer Intern  An anonymous donor has pledged to match up to $2,000 for the intern position 5. H+ Summit Harvard Fundraising Goal: $2,000 Let’s Get This Prize Won and Done! © 2010 BrainPreservation.org
  12. 12. Next Steps - What You Can Do 1. Volunteer to help the BPF team with prize fundraising and outreach. Apply for Summer Intern position? 2. Donate $50 or more to the BPF Prize or Intern position 2. Read and sign our online petition (booth or website) 3. Be a fan of our new BPF Facebook page (36 fans) and subscribe to our blog, Connections (when it launches) 4. Help your friends see that they and their society are their patterns, not their matter. Help them appreciate and grow both their biological and digital selves. 6. Respect other people’s end-of-life choices. When necessary, demand that they also respect your right to a legal, accessible, affordable brain preservation choice. 7. Be happy! 21st C science and technology are magical. We are incredibly lucky to be alive, right here and now. Thank YouThanh ou
  13. 13. Brainpreservation.org