This newsletter starts with a word to the cryo-curious – and to people who are unsure what that concept means, but would be curious if they knew more about it!
You’ll also find news below about other events or projects that might interest you.
1.) An ambulance to the future
One of the most important innovations in medical history can be said to be the creation of the ambulance.
If someone is injured, or suffers a medical emergency, the timely arrival of an ambulance can make all the difference between life and death. That person was the victim of “being in the wrong place”; they needed medical help, but they weren’t in a location where medical help was immediately available. However, an ambulance meant they could be transported to a facility with the resources to treat them: equipment, medicines, and trained healthcare professionals.
There may be scope for observers to quibble about the costs of any given ambulance service. Some critics might say that an ambulance service could be provided at less cost, whilst still being able to meet the majority of the demands placed upon it. However, it’s rare to find someone who complains about the very idea of an ambulance service. You don’t hear people saying that if someone experiences a medical emergency away from a hospital, that’s simply too bad – they should stoically accept their fate. Nor is it said that any family members who request an ambulance for their injured parent, child, or sibling are being selfish or immature. Instead, society embraces the idea that it is natural to demand speedy, safe transport away from the initial danger zone into a place where the medical emergency can be properly dealt with. That way, the injured person has a chance to be treated, and to live on, potentially for many decades to come.
But consider our attitude towards someone who suffers a medical emergency at “the wrong time”. They happen to have a disease which is about to kill them, but which medical science is likely to be able to cure in, say, twenty years’ time. What should we think about the provision of a possible “ambulance to the future” for such a person?
To be precise, the mechanism under consideration is the low-temperature cryonic preservation of the person, in such a way that they enter something akin to deep coma in which all their normal physiological processing is suspended.
Suppose, for the sake of argument, there was a chance of at least 5% that such an “ambulance” might work. Should we embrace the possibility of such a rescue vehicle? Or should we instead urge the victim of this medical crisis to avoid thinking about any such possibility? Should we tell them, in other words, to stoically accept their fate (their impending death)? And if any of their family members, wishing to be able to converse and interact with the dying person in the future, request the provision of this kind of ambulance service, should we rebuke them for being selfish or immature?
Of course, the analogy is far from perfect. With an ambulance that transports a patient through space, to a hospital, there are plenty of previous examples of the journey succeeding. But with cryonics, the journey of a human patient through decades of low-temperature bodily suspension has never yet completed. We can read about people starting that journey, when they are cryopreserved by various organisations in, for example, the USA or Russia. We can also see photographs of the storage cylinders inside which cryonics patients are preserved – sometime their entire bodies, and sometimes just their heads (under the expectation that the science of the future will be able to regrow a new body around the person’s brain). But there is no guarantee that medical science will ever progress to the point where these patients can be successfully reanimated.
However – and this is the key point – nor is there any clear case against medical science making such progress.
Someone who is cryo-curious is open to the possibility that, indeed, the low temperature preservation of one of their beloved relatives or companions, on the point of their legal death, could result in them having a new lease of life some decades in the future.
They’re curious to find out more – even though they might be a bit shy to speak publicly about that topic.
By this point in the discussion, someone who is cryo-curious likely has lots of questions buzzing around their minds.
If you’re in or near London this Saturday, 20th May, you’ll have the chance to ask your questions. Or just to listen to other people discussing the ins and outs of cryonics.
There are some details on one of the London Futurists meetup pages. It’s free to attend, but you should click through to the event’s Eventbrite page to register in advance.
The schedule for the day looks like this:
Morning session (from 10am):
- Max More: “Introduction to Cryonics and Cryonics as Plan A”
- Aschwin de Wolf: “The Science and Practice of Cryonics”
- Emil Kendziorra: “Introduction to Tomorrow Biostasis and European Biostasis Foundation”
Break for lunch
Afternoon session (from 2pm):
- Garret Smyth and Max More: “History of Cryonics in the UK – 1980s to Today”
- Tim Gibson: “Introduction to Cryonics UK activities”
- João Pedro de Magalhães: Introduction to a new cryo company
- Open discussion and networking.
I’m looking forward to seeing you there!
By the way, the picture above is taken from a Tomorrow Biostasis video featuring their Berlin-based “biostasis response” ambulance. The narrator of that video, Emil Kendziorra, is one of the speakers on Saturday.
(You can see more photos of one of these “ambulances to the future” in this tweet of mine from November last year.)
What I’ll say next may sound dramatic, but I believe it’s true. Attending this event could make a life-or-death difference for you, and/or for people that are dear to you. That is, the difference between someone’s brain being irreparably damaged after their legal death, and that brain being sufficiently preserved that it can be reanimated some time later this century.
2.) Longevity Med Summit report (online)
Adrian Cull, host of the Longevity Cafe meetup and founder of the Live Forever Club, attended the Longevity Med Summit in Portugal at the beginning of May, where world-leading scientists gave talks about their research in a variety of areas, such as:
- AI in longevity medicine
- hyperbaric medicine
- immune system
- supplements (e.g. NMN)
- systems biology
Adrian is preparing a presentation covering some key points he learned at the Med Summit, including various discoveries that might, however, still take years to translate into clinical treatments, as well as tips that we may be able to take advantage of today.
Adrian’s report of this Summit will take place on Zoom from 7pm-8pm UK time on Wednesday 31st May. He is setting aside time for questions and open discussion.
For more details, and to register to take part, click here.
3.) The Future of Food (today)
Vertical farming. Lab-grown meat. Halophytes and saline agriculture. Protein from insects. Changes in the management of food waste. Disruptions to food supplies.
These are some of the topics that are likely to feature in the Fireside Conversation taking place later today (from 6:30pm UK time) on the Voice Channel of the Future Surge Discord.
To take part – either just to listen to the conversation, or to offer your own ideas and questions – click on this invitation to the Future Surge Discord server.
4.) Progress with the Vital Syllabus
It’s time to give a big “thank you” shout out to London Futurists member Dalton Murray for regularly suggesting new videos to be added into the Vital Syllabus project.
My general rule is that videos are added only if:
- At least two people say “Yes” to them
- No one has said “No” to them.
Dalton has been posting his suggestions in the Vital Syllabus group on Facebook.
If you have a Facebook account (even if you don’t use it much), and you support the ideals of the Vital Syllabus project, I ask you to take a look at any posts in that group that are still awaiting feedback, and review the associated videos.
(If you prefer LinkedIn and/or Discord, you can find groups via this link where you can also recommend new videos for the project.)
5.) London Futurists Podcast episodes
Since the previous London Futurists newsletter, three more episodes of our podcast have been released. In case you missed any of them, here are the details:
Episode 37: “GPT: To ban or not to ban, that is the question”
Episode 38: “How to use GPT-4 yourself, with Ted Lappas“
Episode 39: “The key workforce stills for 2026, with Mike Howells“
6.) Assessing AI Risk Skepticism
How should we respond to the idea that advances in AI pose catastrophic risks for the wellbeing of humanity?
Two sets of arguments have been circulating online for many years, but in light of recent events, are now each mutating into new forms and are attracting much more attention from the public. The first set argues that AI risks are indeed serious. The second set is skeptical. It argues that the risks are exaggerated, or can easily be managed, and are a distraction from more important issues and opportunities.
In our webinar on Saturday 27th May, we’ll be assessing the skeptical views. To guide us, we’ll be joined by the two authors of a recently published article, “AI Risk Skepticism: A Comprehensive Survey”, namely Vemir Ambartsoumean and Roman Yampolskiy. We’ll also be joined by Mariana Todorova, a member of the Millennium Project’s AGI scenarios study team.
Questions likely to be addressed include:
- What are the main arguments against worrying about catastrophic outcomes from developing and deploying new forms of AI?
- Which of these arguments are the strongest?
- How should the overall set of these “AI Risk Skepticism” arguments be assessed?
- What are the reasons in practice why people become AI Risk Skeptics and/or AI Risk Deniers?
- How can the discussion of these risks be improved?
For more details, and to register to attend, click here.
// David W. Wood
Chair, London Futurists