Cryonics works to preserve humans at cryogenic temperatures after legal death in order to eventually treat their cause of death with advanced medical technologies. While the revival process is still a long way off, there have been developments within key medical and technological sectors that could help with this process. As these sectors advance technologically, they will impact not just the cryonics field, but also society as a whole. This impact could help develop society, both technologically, as well as culturally and socially.
Historically, most technological advancements have had profound implications for societies. The creation of bronze metalwork around 3300 BCE, for example, revolutionized ancient warfare and weaponry, influenced cultural goods such as artwork, and expanded trade across the ancient world. This new technology came after humanity relied heavily on stone tools for over 3 million years.
At Tomorrow Bio we may not be using stone or bronze tools, but the technology we are developing might have a similar revolutionary effect. Wondering how advancements in modern technology used in cryonics could impact societal development in the future?
Developments of medical technologies in cryonics will continue to benefit various cryopreservation practices, but may also help in advancing the revival process. Currently, revival from biostasis is still a long way off. However, there are technologies and studies in longevity that could potentially help in this process. These include:
Some of these technologies are already being utilized in medicine. For example, AI software is already helping to improve detection and diagnosis of cancer within patients. Regarding future revival, nanotechnologies could be instrumental for anti-aging solutions by carrying out in situ repairs on cells and tissue. The repairs could be done on cells and tissue damaged during the cryopreservation procedure as well as due to diseases and aging. Even cryogenics has been essential for advancing medical procedures. Cryotherapy is currently used to treat skin conditions from warts to certain cancer cells. Such a technology could be beneficial in areas such as organ preservation, where it could help reduce the time pressure for medical teams to transport an organ from a donor to a recipient.
But how could such technologies help develop society?
Advancements in medical technology could have two major impacts when it comes to the health of society: human longevity, and healthcare.
Throughout history, as medical technologies advanced, so too has human longevity and life-expectancy. For example, today someone with diabetes can receive life-saving insulin and live an almost “normal” life. If this same person was born before 1921, their life expectancy would be significantly shorter. With advancements in medical technology, life expectancy has more than doubled in the last 250 years, and could continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Perhaps in another two centuries, it could double again.
In addition to cryogenic technologies affecting longevity, these advancements could also impact human healthcare. As new medical technologies advance, so too will new procedures to assist in treating patients. For example, the invention of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 1977 has become essential for non-invasive imaging of internal bodily structures as well as diagnosing diseases. Developments in AI medical technology could help expand medical services through improved training, medical research, and patient treatment and care. This way there would be a greater number of treatments and procedures that people could benefit from regarding their personal health.
This is already a priority for the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, specifically goal number 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. In addition, medical technological advancements in healthcare could help humanity progress towards sustainable superabundance by overcoming one of the main spheres. This possible future predicts that technological advancements will reach a point that there will be more than enough of everything humanity needs: renewable energy, food, resources, and abundant longevity, intelligence and collaboration.
It’s not just the medical and healthcare sector that could help develop societies. Another application that cryonics technologies could be utilized in is in space exploration. Already, aerospace companies such as SpaceWork Enterprises and NASA are working to achieve deep sleep states to help with space exploration, specifically related to Mars.
If this technology were to advance, it could mean that missions to Mars could happen sooner than we think. And not just missions to Mars, but also other planets and celestial bodies. In addition to travel, it could also fuel human expansion across planets, meaning that eventually, there could be lunar or Martian colonies.
New medical technologies won’t just impact how we go about our daily life in the future, but also affect our societal attitudes. Think about when the Internet was first created to where it is now. Before, it was a simple platform used for information exchange on a small scale. Now, it impacts the way we communicate, engage with the wider world, how we conduct business and education, and much more. So, how could cryonics and its associated technologies change societal attitudes?
Cryonics as a sector is very much focused on long-term thinking. After all, when one signs up for cryopreservation, they do this expecting to live in the future. The revival process will require technological and societal advancements to make this possible, especially as this medical procedure becomes more mainstream. This means that as a society, it will require a shift in the collective consciousness that focuses on long-term thinking rather than short-term gains.
In the era of climate change, we can already see this need for long-term thinking reflected in new policies that focus on a green/blue economy, prioritizing sustainable development across all sectors of society. Could human cryopreservation help accelerate this line of thinking? And if so, what could this entail? Would society be mindful of what it does in the present, and how it could impact future generations?
Another aspect to consider is when people wake up in the future from biostasis. They will be from a different time and place. Will this impact future societies' relationship with their own past? Either way, the implication of cryonics is that it will call into question our collective relationship with the future, as well as the past.
Over time, societal understandings and beliefs about death have changed. From what happens when we die, to treatment of the dead, to advancements in medicine, death as a concept is never a constant. It is continuously evolving alongside society. So, in a future where people will eventually be revived from biostasis, how will this impact societal development? Cryonics members will wake up into a world that will be able to cure them of whatever caused their death, along with reviving them from cryopreservation. Given the extensive work that will need to be done for this to happen, could it be possible that in the future humanity will have finally defeated aging?
Now, the purpose of cryonics is not to achieve immortality, but rather allow people to choose how long they want to live for. There are speculations that in the future, humanity could reach a point where this is possible, whether it is through biological, cybernetic, or virtual immortality.
If immortality is achievable by the time cryonics members wake up, how will society perceive death? Will it be something that humanity can elect to experience? How will this impact funerary rites, rituals and customs surrounding the dead? Will it change our relationship with the departed? While cryonics isn’t striving to attain immortality, members may be able to experience this new societal development as a potential side benefit.
Cryonics and its associated technologies could revolutionize the way societies develop in the future, from the technology we use, to how we interact with intangible aspects of our collective cultures. As technologies of the past have helped shape and influence our societies to what we are today, human cryopreservation technology could very well do the same in the future. But what could this future world look like? Tomorrow Insight speculates this with some of our articles about future cities and technologies. So, how do you think cryonics can help society change?
Let us know in our Discord server, and see you tomorrow!