LEGAL ASPECTS OF FOREVER FOR ALL By R. Michael Perry, Ph.D. Scottsdale, AZ Terasem Movement, Inc. 4 th Annual Colloquium on the Law of Transbeman Persons December 10, 2008. Legal Aspects of Forever for All. Introduction
LEGAL ASPECTS OF
FOREVER FOR ALL
R. Michael Perry, Ph.D.
Terasem Movement, Inc.
4th Annual Colloquium on the Law of Transbeman Persons
December 10, 2008
My book Forever for All deals with the ages-old problem of mortality from a modern perspective. It is claimed that the problem in all its aspects can be addressed scientifically. While some of the proposed approaches are expected to be developed only in the more distant future, cryonics is currently available and is recommended for addressing the problem here and now. Today about 1,200 have signed up for cryopreservation at their legal death, hoping that future technology will restore them to a functioning, healthy state, which means that the best possible preservation is desired. To date cryonics procedures can only be started following legal death, which offers a challenge to those desiring the best preservation, a matter of greatest concern, from a legal standpoint. If cryonics is successful, on the other hand, those resuscitated may face new, unprecedented legal issues based on possibilities for replication and creation of “designer beings” including replicas of past individuals who weren’t preserved. Civilization also will likely give thought to “compassionate” efforts to end all animal suffering. There are many other issues of this sort; only a beginning can be made here.
Here I propose to consider some legal issues connected with:
The problem of getting a good cryopreservation
Basically, we in cryonics see the practice as a medical procedure, but legally it qualifies as “disposal of a dead body” (or other remains). With a normal medical operation, one might be anesthetized and the operation performed without much fanfare. With cryonics, the procedure can be started only after the patient is legally dead (barring a few jurisdictions, which have not yet been used, and not counting pets). Under certain conditions terminally ill cryonicists might want to hasten legal death so the procedure can be started in a timely fashion, but there is the additional complication that cases of “suicide” are normally subject to mandatory autopsy which is highly damaging to the preservation process.
“Very lucky lady” maybe. Arlene Fried, public case, cryopreserved 1990, cancer patient, brain tumor, self-dehydrated to deanimation, required about 12 days. Considered a very good preservation for its time. Needless to say, however, we in cryonics don’t want to have to go through this to get a good preservation ourselves. So what to do about it?
A “Singularity”—where machine intelligence exceeds present human levels and technological advances would be very rapid, is considered realistic by many thoughtful people and not too distant on the scale of history. It could, many would say will, usher in possibilities that seem to be “just science fiction” today. Among the possibilities: the ability to “express” personalities at the human level in artificial computational devices. The human personality could then be “uploaded” from a natural original. This for instance could simplify a resuscitation from cryopreservation—reducing it to a brain mapping operation followed by data crunching and transmission to a suitable body for awakening.