Should non-medical hibernation be allowed for people?

Group 7

Introduction

It is widely known that Cryonics science has its own benefits in medical research and saving lives. The concept was first promoted in the 1960s and it has attracted a huge amount of attention because of its ethical issues and strong potential applications, instead of freezing, it is an ice-free process that 60% of the water inside the cell will be replaced with protective chemicals, which completely prevents freezing during cooling, the molecules automatically move much slower until chemical content stops at “glass transition temperature” (about -124 celsius). Moreover, It stated that the vitrified tissues would not be damaged as there is no ice formation, the blood vessels and whole kidney should be recovered and successfully transplanted with long term survival after vitrification at temperature of -135 C. Adventurous as they were, these experiments still stay at the animal stage, but the concept has been widely applied theoretically across NASA for space trips and future medical research .

Potential benefits

On the one hand, Cryonics technique helps to preserve bodys and protect organs fresh. So the main purpose of it would probably be saving lives. For example, Cryonics Myths illustrated that if the patient’s heart stops, the life support equipment would be helpful to restore blood circulation to maintain the brain, every cell and tissue to be active, which means that a cryonics patient can be just as alive at the beginning of cryonics procedures as any other medical patient cryonics patient can be just as alive at the beginning of cryonics procedures as any other medical patient. If the current medical treatment cannot effectively save the patient’s life, they could legally be transferred to “hibernation condition” as soon as the heart stops beating, the patient can be “preserved” as organs and brain active for a long time and will be revived until the disease can be cured.

On the other hand, cryonics preserves “heads”. In the entire body, there is one organ that is unique for each person: the brain. It is believed that by directing preservation efforts directing preservation efforts towards the brain, the brain is to be cryopreserved with better quality than the entire body to be cryopreserved. It is expected to regrow a new body around a preserved and repaired brain, which could be part of future medicine . Therefore, those smart scientists such as Einstein and Newton could live forever even if their heart stops beating because their brains will be preserved and restarted to work in the future under the condition that all relevant techniques are fully developed.

Public concerns

However, death is what humans must go through, Cryonics technique can postpone that process to a great extent but there must be some dispute and distrust, which leads to a lot of ethics problems. For example, people who wake up after a long time will definitely have a great generation gap with others, they may feel fear and unfamiliar with the new environment. They can’t communicate with their families as they could hardly accept the truth that the people they talk to might be more than 200 years old. Moreover, they might not easily accommodate the new living pace and working pattern at the time they awake.

In the future, this powerful technique will be a strong weapon used in wars or disasters. However, problems on who should stay alive under the flurried time. In the game ‘Fallout’ states a world which is suffering nuclear war, insufficient hybrinaying devices would be available for all residents so that only officers and rich people could possibly survive by using hibernation technology. When most residents realize they cannot survive, the rebellion will break the whole country even the world down quickly. People always fear unfamiliar things, besides, there are so many other examples stating the harm of cryonics . For example, should people be discriminated against after being revived from hibernation? Besides, cryonics techniques take a long process, during which period, who is going to be responsible for the regular maintenance and safety.

From the safety point of view, how to apply it safely to the public use is a great concern. It should not only ensure that humans who use this technology wake up on time, but also prevent physical damage to humans. Study shows that bears can recover urine and protein during hibernation. Some animals have constant temperature wake-up function, which can interrupt their hibernation according to the ambient temperature and heart rate cycle. Humans evolved from animals, but humans don’t take the natural hibernation habits of animals. The difficulty is that we don’t know how animals start and maintain this. It has a chance that individual cells of the body are changed. The nervous system or hormones may also have some effects.  Therefore, uncertainty and lack of knowledge make this process risky.

Additionally, hibernation has its own security flaws. For example, hibernating animals are basically immune systems stop working during hibernation, so there is a risk of infection.  From the research of the University of Vienna, hibernation also seems to affect memory. The groups who are hibernated forgot what they had learned. (Eva 2001) Hibernating animals only slow down the metabolism rate, and the tissue activity is still going on. Although hibernation can make animals stay still for a long time and survive, the maintenance time is limited so it probably causes harm to humans.Therefore, it doesn’t meet Duty Ethics and Virtue Ethics.

Initial Decision

In general, the existing ethical issues cover a variety of daily life, therefore, this technology is not practical and applicable for now. So, all of us could have discussed the disadvantages over the article. But after evaluating and taking the research, it is found that this technology has huge commercial potential development in the future, but not for recent years.

ALCOR LIFE EXTENSION FOUNDATION. (2020). Cryonics Myths. [Online]. Alcor Life Extension. Available at:https://alcor.org/cryomyths.html  [Accessed 21 November 2019].

BBC (2020). Human hibernation: Secrets behind the big sleep. [online] BBC FUTURE. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20140505-secrets-behind-the-big-sleep  [Accessed 24 March 2020]

Chinadaily.com.cn. (2020) Chinese scientists ponder benefits of human hibernation[Online].Available:https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/. [Accessed: 27- Mar- 2020].

“Redirect Notice”, Google.com.hk, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.google.com.hk/url?. [Accessed: 27- Mar- 2020].

Jones, L. (2015) . Here Are All The Reasons You Can’t Hibernate In Winter. [online] Bbc.com. Available at: <http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20151203-here-are-all-the-reasons-you-cant-hibernate-in-winter> [Accessed 26 March 2020].

Vyazovskiy, V., 2016. Could Humans Hibernate?. [online] The Conversation. Available at: <https://theconversation.com/could-humans-hibernate-54519> [Accessed 26 March 2020].

1 thought on “Should non-medical hibernation be allowed for people?

  1. An interesting topic with a clearly presented dilemma. Can you make use of the four ethical theories in your second assignments to support the reasons for going ahead and the reasons for opposing, please?
    Your approach is rather general; it should say why we should proceed with cryonics and why we shouldn’t.

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