By Jim Mullen
I recently saw a show on TV about cryogenics – the science of freezing your brain after you die so that someday, when they find the cure for whatever killed you, they can insert your brain into a new body and you can pick up where you left off. Riding that motorcycle.
I’m not a doctor or a scientist, but it seems to me that there are two big problems with this idea, even if they ever figure out how to do it. One: What body are they going to put your frozen brain into? Maybe I’ve missed something, but don’t most bodies already have a brain in them? Are they going to take out my brain so they can put in yours? That doesn’t sound fair, even if they freeze my brain to reinstall later. Excuse me, new brain, but I was here first.
And if they use clones, well, it seems to me the clone might have a few things to say about it, like “You’re not taking my brain!” It seems we’d be back to square one – they’d have to take out one brain to put in another. And, really, is your brain that much more wonderful than anyone else’s?
Now, there is some debate about this. Half the time Sue doesn’t think I have a brain, but other times she wonders if I only have half a brain. Either way, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t pay to have it frozen. She’d rather spend the money on HBO or Starz or Netflix. It would be cheaper and certainly more entertaining.
And what would I do while my brain’s frozen? What if it takes 50 years, or 100, to cure me? Would I have to answer 50 years’ worth of email when I woke up? What if they put me in a body that’s worse than the one I had when I died? Will I have to learn how to use an even smarter phone than I have now? What will a house cost 50 years from now – a hundred million dollars? Where will I make that kind of money? As a greeter at Space Mart?
The second thing that bothers me is the freezing part. I drank a milkshake a little too fast a few years ago and it hurt like crazy. A brain freeze. So what if having your brain really frozen, really hurts? How are you going to tell anyone? Your mouth, along with the rest of your body, was burned to ashes and thrown into the ocean off of Maui or someplace.
So they wake you up 50 years later and you’re out of work, your wife is now married to Walt Disney and your head hurts like someone has worked you over with a nail gun. People will be telling jokes that you won’t get because you haven’t seen the holograms they’ve been watching, and you wonder who to vote for in our new 57-party political system. You’ll have to learn how to text (or whatever replaces it), something you haven’t even done in this life.
Then there’s the health issue. Have you ever taken a steak out of the freezer that’s been accidentally overlooked for, oh, six or seven years? Would you eat it? I would, but would a normal person like you eat it? Most likely you’re thinking, why take a chance? Well, what do you think your brain will look like after it’s been on ice for 50 or 100 years?
Maybe the cryogenic freezer lost power once every 15 years for a couple of hours. Maybe a little bit longer. You no longer qualify for a new body because you left a few IQ points on the freezer wrap. So they put what was left of your brain in some teenager’s cellphone, where you get to correct his spelling mistakes all day long because it’s the one job left where humans are better than machines.
(Contact Jim Mullen at JimMullenBooks.com.)