Friday, April 15, 2016

The growth and decline of cryonics


Cryogenic storage has become known as an alternative to burial. While a substantial fraction of the public finds cryonics acceptable, enrollment remains miniscule. One of the greatest unknowns is whether cryonics companies will be able to operate continuously until reanimation of those in storage becomes possible. Two failure modes are considered; organizational decline and political attack. The cryonics industry has adopted a strategy that implicitly targets atheist millionaires and alienates women. This is a result of neglecting science in its marketing efforts. American cryonics organizations have also incurred an avoidable political risk by refusing to use the funeral industry as a sales channel. Two alternative strategies are suggested that could minimize failure risk by reversing the stagnation of the industry. A “repackaging” of cryonics could accelerate growth and improve services, as well as the political position of the industry. This repackaging includes a restructuring of the channels for funding cryonics. Integration with the mainstream assumes using the funeral industry as a sales channel. While both political experiences and research results have made the need for these developments apparent, pioneers of the industry have resisted them.

Public Interest Statement

The search for a “fountain of youth” has occupied mankind since the beginning of human history. Cryonics (freezing at death) offers one of the latest solutions. Revival with a regenerated body is seen as possible, assuming technology has become sufficiently advanced. However, cryogenic storage must be maintained, probably for hundreds of years. This paper was written to alert cryonicists of the need for greater organizational robustness, if there was to be any hope that this experiment would succeed. Literature on organizational failure and on barriers to enrollment were reviewed. Two strategies for restarting growth were presented. Unfortunately, industry leadership refused to accept that there were problems and even censored earlier versions of this paper. While cryonicists consider themselves to be taking a scientific approach to life extension, this response to criticism suggests religious fanaticism. An analysis of leadership attitudes and behavior indicates that cryonics has become a religion for many.