Cryonics: Putting Death on Ice
There is a potent thread winding its way through generations of human culture. From Ancient Egyptian rituals to Kurzweil’s Singularity, many paths have sprung up leading to the same elusive destination: immortality.
Today, the concept is as popular as it’s ever been, and technological advances are giving people hope that immortality, or at very least radical life extension, may be within reach. Is modern technology advanced enough to give people a second chance through cryonics?
Today’s infographic, courtesy of Futurism, tackles our growing fascination with putting death on ice.
The Prospect of Immortality
Robert C. W. Ettinger’s seminal work, The Prospect Of Immortality, detailed many of the scientific, moral, and economic implications of cryogenically freezing humans for later reanimation. It was after that book was published in 1962 that the idea of freezing one’s body after death began to take hold.
One of the most pressing questions is, even if we’re able to revive a person who has been cryogenically preserved, will the person’s memories and personality remain intact? Ettinger posits that long-term memory is stored in the brain as a long-lasting structural modification. Basically, those memories will remain, even if the brain’s “power is turned off”.
Descending into the Deep-Freeze
There are three main steps in the cryogenic process:
1) Immediately after a patient dies, the body is cooled with ice packs and transported to the freezing location.
2) Next, blood is drained from the patient’s body and replaced with a cryoprotectant (basically the same antifreeze solution used to transport organs destined for transplant).
3) Finally, once the body arrives at the cryonic preservation facility, the body is cooled to -196ºC (-320.8ºF) over the course of two weeks. Bodies are generally stored upside-down in a tank of liquid nitrogen.
The Economics of Cryopreservation
At prices ranging from about $30,000 to $200,000, cryopreservation may sound like an option reserved for the wealthy, but many people fund the procedure by naming a cryonics company as the primary benefactor of their life insurance policy. Meanwhile, in the event of a death that doesn’t allow for preservation of the body, the money goes to secondary beneficiaries.
Even if we do eventually find a way to reanimate frozen humans, another important consideration is how those people would take care of themselves financially. That’s where a cryonics or personal revival trust comes into play. A twist on a traditional dynastic trust, this arrangement ensures that there are funds to cover costs of the cryopreservation, as well as ensure the grantor would have assets when they’re unthawed. Of course, there are risks involved beyond the slim possibility of reanimation. The legal code in hundreds of years could be vastly different than today.
If you created a trust for specific purposes in 1711, it is unlikely it would function in the same way today.
– Kris Knaplund, Law Professor, Pepperdine University
Cold Humans, Hot Market
At last count, there are already 346 people in the deep freeze, with thousands more on the waiting list. As technology improves, those numbers are sure to continue rising.
Time will tell whether cryonically preserved people are able to cheat death. In the meantime? The cryonics industry is alive and well.
How Big Data Will Unlock the Potential of Healthcare
Data is driving the future of healthcare, and companies that are not prepared for this transformation are at risk of being left behind.
How Big Data Will Unlock the Potential of Healthcare
Data is driving the future of business, and any company not prepared for this transformation is at risk of being left behind.
This is a reality in almost every sector, but it’s especially relevant to companies in the healthcare industry. That’s because the amount of health data being created is growing at a 48% rate annually, and by 2020, a Stanford University study estimates that 2,314 exabytes of healthcare data will be produced per year.
Simply put, the companies that can extract meaningful insights from these mountains of data will have a serious and durable competitive advantage – and those that don’t have a proper strategy for this boom in data will get lost in the weeds.
Breaking Down Big Data
Big data in healthcare spans four different dimensions:
The sheer amount of data created can be processed and interpreted by AI.
Noise, abnormality, and biases can undermine trust and accuracy of data. Data assurance can help guarantee analytics are credible and error-free.
Healthcare is time sensitive, and being able to process large amounts of data in real-time is crucial.
Big data comes from a myriad of sources, such as social media or IoT devices. Actionable insights can be gained from analyzing different data sources together.
Healthcare businesses must learn to quickly distill information from masses of data and to transform them into actionable insights. The ability to extract these insights will power the future of health, and become a differentiator for companies to thrive and stay ahead of emerging competitors.
How can companies reach “analytical nirvana”, a state where analytics can be used for strategic differentiation?
Companies must move towards being more service-focused, by transforming data into compelling stories that bridge the gap between customer engagement and action.
Further, this change must be powered by predictive health intelligence that can interpret data to create more personalized experiences for customers. Finally, data must be democratized throughout an organization, so that even non-analysts can deploy gained insights to achieve these other goals.
This journey may seem like a daunting task, but companies that successfully navigate this transformation will gain an edge that will continue to grow in importance in the digital era.
This is part two of a seven part series. Stay tuned by subscribing to Visual Capitalist for free, as we go into these six forces in more detail in the future.
Here’s How Tech is Disrupting the Traditional Healthcare Market
Tech is breaking down barriers to entry as the world’s healthcare demands continue to grow. Here’s how to capitalize on this industry’s period of flux.
Tech is rapidly shaking up the traditional healthcare market in ways that could be described as both exciting and terrifying. Fortunately for investors, these disruptions are also creating new opportunities to solve some of the biggest health-related challenges facing the world today.
The following infographic from MW Homecare shows how healthcare is being impacted by emerging technologies and startup companies.
Healthcare: the big picture
Today’s healthcare industry faces many hurdles that are driving up costs. Political and economic uncertainty, an aging population, and a growing prevalence of chronic diseases are all contributing factors in the global push to find more cost-effective healthcare solutions.
The entire healthcare industry, from insurance providers to drug manufacturers, is seeking opportunities to reduce costs through modern technologies. This is playing into a wider trend towards a more personalized and efficient approach to healthcare. For investors, some of the most interesting crossroads between technology and healthcare may be found in big data, cybersecurity, developing markets, and strategic partnerships.
The collection and storage of large amounts of medical data, made possible by recent technological advancements, is helping healthcare professionals improve the quality of medical care, from research to diagnosis and treatment.
Investor interest in digital health startups that use big data to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare is increasing. These companies attracted $5.8 billion in funding in 2015, according to CB Insights – an increase of 20% over the previous year.
While technology is disrupting the healthcare industry in many positive ways, it’s also creating new challenges that will need to be addressed with greater urgency moving forward. One issue is the world’s growing reliance on cloud-based technology, which can place personal medical data at risk of security breaches.
Cyberattacks and IP theft are a growing threat to healthcare companies. According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Life Sciences Outlook, in 2011 the U.K. government claimed that its life sciences and healthcare industry suffered $2.9 billion in losses due to IP theft.
Currently, each country has its own complex regulatory and compliance systems which act as gatekeepers in the development of medical products. While these systems are necessary in order to ensure the safety and credibility of products before they go to market, they often clash with technology’s rapid pace of innovation.
Although the U.S. has been a leader in health tech innovation, current regulatory and compliance models tend to hold back progression. Digital health companies face heavy regulations in the U.S., which is causing investors to seek out new opportunities in developing markets such as China and India – two nations facing extreme healthcare costs against a backdrop of large aging populations and a rapid increase in chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
China, with more than 185 million residents currently over the age of 60, is set to become the world’s most aged society by 2030. The Chinese government has responded to this looming economic threat by opening up opportunities for private foreign investment into its healthcare sector. As part of China’s recently implemented 13th Five-Year Plan, foreign senior care operators are now permitted to set up wholly–foreign owned enterprises (WFOE) in China, and are eligible to receive tax incentives, administrative fee exemptions and deductions and waivers. Chinese health companies are also seeking opportunities in foreign health technologies that will help China meet its domestic healthcare needs.
A trend that has been occurring with more frequency in recent years is the establishment of partnerships between tech giants and healthcare startups. For example, by partnering with Epic Systems in 2014, Apple’s Healthkit platform was able to integrate substantial amounts of patient data to leverage its digital health and tracking technologies.
Mergers and acquisitions within the digital health tech space have also been steadily growing over the last few years. In fact 2016 has been a record-breaking year for digital health tech M&A, with 41 deals in total – a solid increase over 2015’s total of 36 deals and 2014’s total of 33 deals. Many of these mergers and acquisitions are strategic moves by healthcare retail companies looking to build up their marketing presence and customer interaction platforms.
As technology continues to act as a catalyst for rapidly changing market dynamics within the healthcare industry, it is likely that strategic partnerships, co-investments, and M&A will continue to be key drivers of growth.
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