Cryonics: An Example of the False Promises of Technology

At the time of the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century, technology awakened great expectations and enthusiasm. The prospect of a kind of technological utopia electrified the air. There was a subconscious yet unbounded confidence in technology, vaguely analogous to the absolute confidence that Christians once placed in Divine Providence.

So great was the hope of expelling misfortune from our path that even the banishing of death was considered possible through the marvels of technology. One example of such hopes was the development of the science of cryonics in which bodies and brains are frozen and preserved at extremely low temperatures in the expectation that future technological advances will be able to revive them.

First proposed in 1962, cryonic societies formed and eventually began to develop procedures for preservation. As a result of this technology, around 250 people worldwide have had themselves frozen after death awaiting a technological resurrection in the future. In more recent times, the optimism surrounding the issue has waned.

It is interesting to note that one of the first mentions of possible resurrection due to technology is from the latter part of the eighteenth century. This hope is expressed in a 1773 letter by Benjamin Franklin, in which he expressed his regret that he lived “in a century too little advanced, and too near the infancy of science” that he could not be preserved and revived to fulfill his “very ardent desire to see and observe the state of America a hundred years hence.”

Subscribe to Return to OrderNearly 240 years later, technology has still failed to deliver. The wildly optimist hopes that men once had in technology have slowly faded. Men have since learned that technology can have unintended consequences that can diminished the quality of life. Technology should always be a helpful tool in the hands of man. However, it should never dominate man. Above all, it should never be expected to work miracles.