- Jason Lemon For the AJC
Death −it's an inevitable reality. Humans have been coming to terms with that fact for centuries.
There are various theories on living longer, religious beliefs and theories on the afterlife. However, no matter the belief system we ascribe to, we are still certain that death− whether it be an end or a transition − is coming for all of us.
In spite of that, there are thousands of people finding unique ways to potentially beat death − or at least beat aging.
Some wealthy investors and renowned scientists are working very hard on trying to do just that.
Several startups and tech companies are actively working to help you beath death.
"I have the idea that aging is plastic, that it's encoded. If something is encoded, you can crack the code," said Joon Yun, a doctor who runs a health-care hedge fund and has given $2 million to fight aging and death, according to The New Yorker.
"If you can crack the code, you can hack the code!"
Although nobody has yet been scientifically proven to live forever, many scientists believe that it will someday be possible. Here's a look at some of the ways people are trying to become immortal. Some of it may sound a lot like “Black Mirror”, but this isn't science fiction.
Blood transfusions from teenagers
Harvesting the blood of teens in the hopes of achieving eternal youth may seem like something from “Twilight” or the plot of a horror film. But there's actually a startup doing this.
Ambrosia, based in Monterey, California, offers young blood transfusions to individuals 35 or older for $8,000 a pop, The Guardian reported in August 2017. Although the project is still dubbed "a study," Dr. Jesse Karmazin, who runs the project, suggests that it could combat aging.
The new research comes after a 2014 Harvard study showed that older mice injected with blood from younger mice had improved memory and ability to learn. Whether or not similar results will be shown in humans remains to be seen. But as of last year, about 100 older adults had signed on to pay the hefty price and receive the 1.5 liter injections of teenagers' blood, according to CNBC.
Head transplants to new bodies
In late 2017, Dr. Sergio Canavero, Director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, drew international outcry when he claimed that he would perform the first live human head transplant very soon.
Essentially, Canavero aims to take a living patient whose body is physically disabled and transplant their head on a fully-functioning body. While the doctor and his team have been experimenting with the procedure using cadavers, many in the medical community have warned that the technique just isn't advanced enough to make this feasible.
"Attempting such a thing given the current state of the art would be nothing short of criminal, and as a neuroscientist, I would really quite like the general public to be reassured that neither I nor any of my colleagues think that beheading people for extremely long-shot experiments is acceptable," Dr. Jan Schnupp, professor of neuroscience at City University of Hong Kong, told The Independent.
But Canavero dismisses concerns, telling USA Today: "Bioethicists need to stop patronizing the world."
Uploading consciousness to the cloud
What if you could make a digital back-up of your consciousness and memories? Could you live forever in a digital world or perhaps one day be downloaded into a younger, healthier body?
Tristan Quinn, a Russian internet millionaire has bet a hefty portion of his fortune on doing just that.
"The ultimate goal of my plan is to transfer someone's personality into a completely new body," Quinn said, explaining that he is attempting to unlock the secrets of the human brain and then upload an individual's mind to a computer, according to the BBC.
"Within the next 30 years, I am going to make sure that we can all live forever," he promised in 2016.
And Ray Kurzwell, director of engineering at Google, is on the same page as Quinn.
"We're going to become increasingly non-biological to the point where the non-biological part dominates and the biological part is not important any more," Kurzwell said, according to Express. He went on to suggest humans would have machine bodies by 2100.
Freezing corpses in hopes of future reanimation
In late 2016, news of a 14-year-old girl's decision to be cryogenically frozen after her death from cancer made headlines. The technology suggests that frozen individuals will one day be able to be reanimated when technology and science have developed further.
Scientifically, it's unclear whether this will actually work, but it hasn't stopped many individuals from deciding to take the gamble.
Currently, three organizations in the world offer the cryogenic freezing: the Cryonics Institute in Michigan – where the teenage girl is now preserved, Alcor in Arizon and KrioRus in Russia, according to Express. The Cryonics Institute charges $28,000 plus a one-off membership fee of $1,250.