Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and a prominent tech investor, has confirmed that he is signed up to be cryogenically frozen after his death in hopes of being revived in the future. He is not alone in his quest for immortality: many other Silicon Valley billionaires are investing in life extension technologies, such as gene editing, biotech, and artificial intelligence.
Thiel, who has an estimated net worth of $8.13 billion, said that he considers his decision to be an “ideological statement” against the complacency of accepting death as inevitable. He admitted that he is not convinced that cryonics actually works, but he thinks that it is the sort of thing that people are supposed to try to do.
Cryonics is the practice of preserving life by pausing the dying process using subfreezing temperatures with the intent of restoring good health with medical technology in the future. Thiel is one of the clients of Alcor, a company that offers cryopreservation services for $200,000 per person. Alcor currently has 182 patients in its facility in Arizona, where they are stored in liquid nitrogen tanks.
However, cryonics is not without its challenges and risks. The process involves injecting chemicals into the body to prevent ice formation, which can damage the cells and tissues. The preservation also has to be done as soon as possible after legal death, before irreversible brain damage occurs. Moreover, there is no guarantee that future technology will be able to revive the frozen patients or cure their diseases.
The science and ethics of cryonics are also controversial. Some experts doubt that the complex structure and function of the brain can be preserved and restored by freezing and thawing. Some critics argue that cryonics is a form of selfishness and escapism that neglects the social and environmental problems of the present. Some religious groups also oppose cryonics on the grounds that it interferes with God’s plan for human destiny.
Despite these objections, some cryonicists remain optimistic that they will one day wake up to a better world. They believe that cryonics is a rational and moral choice that reflects their values and hopes. They also point out that cryonics is not a new idea: humans have been fascinated by the possibility of resurrection and rejuvenation for centuries.
Whether cryonics is a realistic or a delusional option remains to be seen. But for Thiel and other tech moguls who are betting on it, it is a way of expressing their vision and ambition for the future.