Looking at the present from as little as five years ago, advents in technology have accelerated to the degree that it would seem we're living in a world that used to be relegated only to science-fiction books and movies. We have drones to deliver us things. We have the world's first AI citizen. Flying cars are apparently an actual thing. And now, a legitimate startup called Nectome wants to literally upload your brain to the cloud. If this sounds suspiciously like the new Netflix series Altered Carbon, or a Ray Kurzweil book, that's because it is. Hey, looks like the singularity is happening, after all!
But really. According to Business Insider, Netcome's co-founder Robert McIntyre, an MIT graduate, has plans to describe his technology for "exquisitely preserving brains in microscopic detail using a high-tech embalming process" to potential investors next week at Y Combinator, a well-known Silicon Valley startup accelerator. The company has already received over a million dollars in funding, including a federal grant, as well as an $80,000 prize for using the technique to preserve a pig's brain.
To be clear, Nectome is only attempting to develop a way to preserve the brain, and its reticulate web of synapses and neurons as best it can—it does not yet have plans on how one would upload that data to the cloud, or whether it would be able to preserve important, human-identifying stuff, like personality or memories. The idea, essentially, is that they'd do the embalming and then, sometime in the future (maybe 100 years or whatever), technology will advance to the point that someone might be able to upload all of it onto a computer (or whatever crazy thingamajig we'll be using instead of computers a century from now).
And there's also a caveat: you have to be dead for the procedure to take place—and ideally, freshly dead. That's why Nectome is currently working with terminally ill patients and assisted-suicide legal groups to identify candidates for the procedure, which they believe will be 100% legal (in states like California, where assisted-suicide is legal). Because the procedure is fatal, it will essentially amount to a form of euthanasia.
That hasn't stopped at least 25 people from joining the company's waiting list. For a $10,000, fully-refundable deposit, you too can be one of the first to have your brain preserved, should Nectome's storage services ever go to market. Who knows? Maybe you'll wake up inside a computer in the year 3,025, fully sentient, to find you still can't remember where you put your goddamn car keys.