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That “Black Mirror” brain startup is having second thoughts about uploading your mind

That “Black Mirror” brain startup is having second thoughts about uploading your mind
[Photos: Sanger Brown M.D/Wikimedia Commons; Unknown/Wikimedia Commons]

Biotech startup Nectome piqued widespread interest when it publicly revealed its Black Mirror-style goal to “back up” people’s brains in an attempt to one day revive consciousnesses. The news garnered quite a chuckle after it was discovered that the mind-uploading service is, of course, “100% fatal.”

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“The user experience will be identical to physician-assisted suicide,” cofounder Robert McIntyre told the MIT Technology Review in March. “Product-market fit is people believing that it works.”

The euthanasia-friendly futurists, who had reportedly successfully completed the procedure on a pig, won a $915,000 National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) grant and were collaborating with noted MIT Media Lab neuroscientist Ed Boyden.

But now it looks like there’s trouble in dystopian paradise: MIT cut ties with the startup, which now claims it won’t be uploading brains any time soon. In a statement, the MIT Lab declared that, “Neuroscience has not sufficiently advanced to the point where we know whether any brain preservation method is powerful enough to preserve all the different kinds of biomolecules related to memory and the mind.”

It then dug the dagger through by adding, “It is also not known whether it is possible to recreate a person’s consciousness.”

Copy referencing the “back up” procedure has since disappeared from the Nectome website and in an interview with LiveScience, McIntyre explained that the company will pedal back its original plans. “We have not nor do we plan to administer embalming fluids on a living animal or human,” he wrote.

Instead, the startup will shift its focus to better embrace its (arguably less exciting) research goals, specifically in regard to preserving the brains of donated cadavers.

“I want people to understand that we’re currently in the research phase, and that rushing to apply ASC [aldehyde-stabilized cryopreservation] today would be irresponsible,” said McIntyre.

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