Silicone-based start-up wants its users to die so as to preserve brains for upload to the cloud

For anyone who fears the abyss of death but also has a spare $10,000 lying around, there’s a wild-sounding new way to (maybe) cheat the grim reaper. Of course, the veyr procedure will kill you.

Nectome, a Silicon Valley startup funded by Y Combinator, is similar to cryogenics companies in that it operates on a simple premise: If your body or brain could be preserved indefinitely, someday technology might come around that could bring you back to life. There’s one big difference, though. Cryogenics companies want to freeze you after you die. Nectome needs to kill you, because its tech requires that you be alive at the time.

Next week, at YC’s “demo days,” Nectome’s cofounder, Robert McIntyre, is going to describe his technology for exquisitely preserving brains in microscopic detail using a high-tech embalming process. Then the MIT graduate will make his business pitch. As it says on his website: “What if we told you we could back up your mind?”

Nectome uses a chemical cocktail that turns your brain from a living lump of cells into a ball of frozen glass, theoretically preserving all your neural connections for future scientists to recreate. The catch is that you must be alive for it to work.

The company has consulted with lawyers familiar with California’s two-year-old End of Life Option Act, which permits doctor-assisted suicide for terminal patients, and believes its service will be legal. The product is “100 percent fatal,” says McIntyre. “That is why we are uniquely situated among the Y Combinator companies.”

So, Nectome is pitching the service as a form of doctor-assisted suicide, which is legal in the state of California. The company’s hope is that patients with terminal diseases will choose to end their life with this method, which comes with the chance they’ll be resurrected. Nectome is still trying to navigate the state and federal legal systems to ensure they won’t be arrested, but in the meantime you can drop $10,000 to join their waiting list.

 

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