Dynasty Trusts Lively Topic For Corpsicles
Dynasty trusts - also called personal revival trusts - are a hot topic among the cold dead. More than twenty states now allow trusts that pay out funds indefinitely to future generations. Now, cryonics clients can name themselves as beneficiaries before being frozen.
(Neuropatient placed in individual aluminum container after vitrification)
At least 142 human bodies (or just heads - it's cheaper) are being held in cold storage at Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale Arizona, and the Cryonics Institute of Clinton Township, Michigan.
Who wants to be a corpsicle? Mostly those who are single, male and wealthy. Kenneth Weiss, co-founder of RSA Security is working with Swiss bank. Robert Miller, owner of Future Electronics, Inc. is also planning for this frozen future.
Science fiction writers have been chipping away at prejudices about frozen and preserved people for generations. The word "corpsicle" was probably coined by Frederik Pohl in the mid-1960's. Larry Niven used it in stories like A World Out of Time:
"Your newspapers called you people corpsicles," said the blond man. "I never understood what the tapes meant by that."
"It comes from Popsicle. Frozen sherbet." Corbell had used the word himself before he became one of them. One of the corpsicles, the frozen dead.
(More about Larry Niven's corpsicles)
One of my other favorite early cryonics stories occurs in Doorways in the Sand, a wonderful 1976 novel by Roger Zelazny. The story's protagonist is an "eternal" student, whose education is being paid year after year from the trust fund established by his frozen uncle. And what would happen if his uncle were revived? "I deal with problems as they arise. So far, my uncle hasn't."
Update 27-Jan-2006: Readers have pointed out that the entire concept was clearly stated in Robert Heinlein's 1957 novel The Door Into Summer. I cover Heinlein's cold-sleep elsewhere on the site (see the page on stasis from this book which fully describes the technique), but I didn't reference it because cold-sleep does not involve freezing you solid; however, it is a long-term hibernation method. Here is the relevant passage from The Door Into Summer:
If a man had an incurable disease and expected to die anyhow but thought the doctors a generation might be able to cure him - and he could aford to pay for suspended animation while medical science caught up with what was wrong with him - then cold sleep was a logical bet...
And there was the usual straightforward financial appeal, the one the insurance companies borer down on: "Work while you sleep." Just hold still and let whatever you have saved grow into a fortune..."
It's a great fit for the article; thanks to readers who wrote in.
Read more about the related Terasem Conference On Law Of Transhuman Persons, which covers other legal aspects of this problem. If you're not quite ready for cryonic freezing, try cold-sleep instead (from Robert Heinlein's 1941 novel Methuselah's Children. Take a look at A Cold Calculus Leads Cryonauts to Put Assets on Ice; thanks to Fred Kiesche for the tip on this story.
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