Robert Ettinger’s not dead. He’s frozen. And one day…
By now, Robert Ettinger should be well and truly frozen.
At 92, the man widely credited as the founder of the cryogenics movement had already seen the some of the best and worse of the past century.
He died on Saturday and reportedly became the 106th patient at his Michigan-based Cryonics Institute, where he joins his mother and first two wives. I genuinely hope it all works out for him and that he lives long and prospers… again.
No doubt Ettinger will one day emerge from his cryogenic slumber to a world full of sexy robots, foot-massaging carpets and toothbrushes that play dubstep.
He does, of course, face the small hurdle of figuring out in which order he’ll thaw out his first and second wife, a task that will undoubtedly be awkward in any century.
Then there is the chance that our as-yet-unborn brethren simply don’t wake him up.
Why, for instance, would the future want to resurrect frozen old dudes? What’s in it for our white-coated descendants?
They would have nothing to gain, for example, from having Mel Gibson stumble around New York circa 2078, mumbling racist things under his breath, slapping random people and telling pigeons about the time Danny Glover bet he couldn’t escape a straight jacket in the office and then he totally did.
Yes, Ettinger and all those who await warmer days, are much braver than I will ever be.
My vision of the future is one plagued by Cameron-esque images of woe. There’s no way I would risk waking up in the middle of a robot war or a decade in which shoulder pads are back in fashion.
What if all the things I’m not good at - like quilting or darts - suddenly become insanely popular?
The future has the potential to be a very nasty place, indeed.
Everyone will moan about the day Facebook became self aware and changed everybody’s interests and religious views to “punching children” so they all lost their jobs.
The tax-which-shall-not-be-named will still be furiously debated by two fiercely competitive, automated recordings that loop at half-hour intervals and steadily increase in volume until they have to be locked in a titanium box at the bottom of the ocean.
Reality will be called “television” and Big Brother will most definitely be watching - even if he is mostly watching a 57m statue of Snooki mud-wrestling seven different incarnations of Jennifer Aniston’s hair.
The sky will be a brilliant pink, or green, or whatever they decide to paint the inside of the giant concrete dome that protects Earth from the possibility of Shia LaBeouf trying to return after realising his “moon mission” was an ingenious way of permanently jettisoning him into space.
There is one thing, however, that may not be entirely unfamiliar.
People will be both happy and sad, optimistic and fearful, blessed and cursed. Their dreams and nightmares will come true, and they’ll be loved and alone.
Above all, they’ll be people. That’s what, I think, cryogenics is really all about. Robert Ettinger’s bold decision to freeze death’s cold embrace stems not just from his wonderful sense of curiosity - but his faith in people.
His kind subscribe to the idea that people will always be people. They believe that the world that awaits them will be as familiar as it will be alien. It’s a sentiment that is both comforting and terrifying.
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