Wednesday, 9 May 2018

A Door to the Future

Benjamin Franklin wanted a procedure for stopping and restarting metabolism, but none was then known. Do we live in a century far enough advanced to make biostasis available---to open a future of health to patients who would otherwise lack any choice but dissolution after they have expired?

We can stop metabolism in many ways, but biostasis, to be of use, must be reversible. This leads to a curious situation. Whether we can place patients in biostasis using present techniques depends entirely on whether future techniques will be able to reverse the process. The procedure has two parts, of which we must master only one.

If biostasis can keep a patient unchanged for years, then those future techniques will include sophisticated cell repair systems. We must therefore judge the success of present biostasis procedures in light of the ultimate abilities of future medicine. Before cell repair machines became a clear prospect, those abilities---and thus the requirements for successful biostasis---remained grossly uncertain. Now, the basic requirements seem fairly obvious.

DREXLER, K. Eric. Engines of creation. Anchor Books, 1986.


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