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How to Reboot Your Corpse

Thousands of bodies are already cryonically frozen, waiting for faster computers and medical advances that will undo their cause of death

3 min read

What is death? Over the centuries, the line dividing life and death has moved from the cessation first of breathing, then of the heartbeat, and finally of brain activity. But cryogenic methods first contemplated in science fiction may push the line even further. The idea is to freeze legally dead people in liquid nitrogen in the hope of regenerating them at some future date. Today’s cryonics scientists believe that this future may be a mere 100 years away. Alcor Life Extension Foundation, in Scottsdale, Ariz., the world’s largest cryonics company, charges US $150 000 to freeze and maintain a body and $80 000 for a head, typically paid for with a life insurance policy.

Ralph Merkle, a nanotechnology expert and a director at Alcor, believes the best approach lies in developing nanorobots that can repair the body at the cellular level before thawing. They would fix or replace diseased and deteriorated tissue as well as the tissue fractures and denatured proteins that result from the freezing process itself. The revival process would, ideally, restore the physiology of dead persons to a pristine level, not only undoing the damage of whatever disease or accident killed them but also enabling them to return smarter and healthier than they ever were in life.

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Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic

Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

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