A former Alcor president, Steve Bridges opened up the conference with a question: “Why are we here?” His answer: “Alive = Good. Dead = Bad.”
Over the past 100 years, technology and medicine have improved our ability to revive people who early were considered clinically dead. Although there is no proof that cryonics will work, this and other lines of research and current technology trends suggest recovery after a time of preservation is at least a possibility. To cryopreserve someone is to use cryogenics technology to keep the patient in an unchanging frozen state. Cryonics seeks to add as little damage as possible, while preserving the patient for possible recovery in the future when the appropriate technologies are available.
Instead of freezing the body, Alcor uses vitrification; that is, a glassy “freeze” that prevents the damage ice crystals would cause to cells. Much of Bridges talk was a recap of this technology, membership in the Alcor service, funding, and research.
Alcor is developing their facilities, procedures, and financial backing. Bridges believes that Alcor needs to spend more time and money on research now, to learn more and improve the technology. While Alcor has in the past been distracted by talking about a positive future into which people might wish to be revived, he suggests a return to focus on the present. There are so many unanswered questions left to be answered by laboratory research.
Also of importance are legal issues, ways to make the organization stable financially, offering services to a national membership, whether not the technology is truly preserving memory and the basic essence of a person, how to grow the membership, and how to attract technical and professional employees and researchers.
Bridges talk served as both a recap of Alcor and cryonics as well as inspiration to the members participating in the conference. He hopes that members will participate in a discussion of these issues, rather than passively listening to presenters. The fact provided were straightforward, with an emphasis on bluntness and the work that needs to be done. I think it is important that Alcor continue to state that this technology is unproven. No promises are being made, and this full disclosure should help to lessen the impact of those who argue that Alcor is a scam and/or a cult. Joining Alcor is a choice, one informed by what we know and what we need to find out.