It’s not you, it’s… ok, it’s you. MIT cuts ties with brain preservation startup

MIT is pumping the brakes on their highly criticized relationship with Nectome, the small biotech company who wowed the neuroscience world with their insane idea of “backing up” people’s brains for the possibility of future digital upload. All the procedure cost was your life — and a one-time waitlist fee of $10k. Wait, what was […]


April 6, 2018

MIT is pumping the brakes on their highly criticized relationship with Nectome, the small biotech company who wowed the neuroscience world with their insane idea of “backing up” people’s brains for the possibility of future digital upload.

All the procedure cost was your life — and a one-time waitlist fee of $10k.

Wait, what was that first part again? 

But, MIT came to their senses, and on April 2 released a statement saying they would terminate their subcontract with the company.

Just a quick upload to the cloud

Founded by MIT grads and supported by Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator, Nectome received a $915k grant from the National Institute of Mental Health after “successfully” completing the procedure on a pig. Shortly after, they began working with one of MIT’s top neuroscientists, Ed Boyden.

But things started to go south after a number of experts in the field criticized a process that, according to Nectome’s founder, is “100% fatal.”

Even worse, the brain has to be operative for the services to work, meaning the procedure would consist of pumping embalming fluids into their arteries, preserving the brain during “download,” then, when it’s finished… light’s out.

Hmm, starting to sound pretty messed up now

MIT explains in the statement that Nectome’s promise is just too unknown to guarantee, which is why they’re getting out.

“Currently, we cannot directly measure or create consciousness,” the statement said. “Given that limitation, how can one say if, for example, a computer or a simulation is conscious?” 

In other words, scientists aren’t even sure what compounds in the brain make our memories, let alone how to save them.

That’s not even to mention the ethical concerns

This is assisted euthanization we’re talking about here some experts worried this procedure could attract the possibility of people killing themselves to donate their brains, after all the cofounder said it himself, “Product-market fit is people believing that it works.”

Upon the announcement, Nectome has since taken to removing anything on their website referencing the “backup.”

Daily briefings, straight to your inbox

Business and tech news in 5 minutes or less

Join over 1 million people who read The Hustle

Psst

How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

In 1994, Jeff Bezos discovered a shocking stat: Internet usage grew 2,300% per year.

Data shows where markets are headed.

And that’s why we built Trends — to show you up-and-coming market opportunities about to explode. Interested?

Join us, it's free.

Look, you came to this site because you saw something cool. But here’s the deal. This site is actually a daily email that covers the important news in business, tech, and culture.

So, if you like what you’re reading, give the email a try.