Suppose that the technology to re-grow bodies exists but either for technical or ethical reasons creating a digital copy of the brain that can be uploaded is not possible. How could you create an escape/survival system for the human brain in the event of body death. The brain doesn’t need to be functional, it just needs to be recoverable at an indeterminate time in the future. Assume that as long as the information encoded into the neurons and synapses of the brain isn’t lost, then medical technology can eventually bring them back.

The best I can come up with is some sort of implanted device that non-destructively plasticizes or crystallizes the brain in the event of body-death. Is there a better solution to preserve the information encoded into the brain?

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    $\begingroup$ In terms of hard science, we don't know, since how data is "encoded" into the brain is currently not fully understood. There are chemical aspects. There are structural (neurons and synapses) aspects. There may even be quantum effects (very woo-y, but Penrose's speculations cannot be discarded). At the moment, we have no guarantees that if the brain stops doing what it does, it is possible to recover its state. Depending on how advanced the technology is in the setting, maybe something like the stasis bags from Deathworlders? Everything in the container stays exactly how it was? $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Jun 1 at 19:11
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    $\begingroup$ To be honest, we don't even really know how memory works, never mind all the other functions of the brain. The best shot you have is performing some handwavium and saying there's some sort of freeze-preservation mechanism where everything in the brain is frozen exactly as it was in a particular moment in time, allowing future retrieval by reanimating brain processes. $\endgroup$
    – dreamforge
    Jun 1 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ You've told us what they can't do, but I think it might be useful if you were to be a bit more specific about what technology is available. What is the state of the art regarding gravity-manipulation, force-fields, quantum mechanical technology and anything else we don't currently have? $\endgroup$ Jun 1 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ As written - the only answer to this question is that they use a brain snapshotter 3000. I'm not gonna VTC as Brain storming (pun intended) - but you are missing some pretty important detail for us to answer. $\endgroup$ Jun 1 at 22:40
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    $\begingroup$ Hi Adam. Please understand that anyone who could answer this with anything even resembling a Real World solution wouldn't answer it here, they'd be running to the patent office. That means the best we can do is help you with believability, and that means we need to better understand how you intend to use this "technology." Very simplistically, memory and personality are functions of electricity and physical interconnections. Without saving both, all you have is cheap food for pigs. We could work out some ideas, but what do you need the end result to be (in detail)? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 2 at 4:31

2 Answers 2



You really just have to preserve the brain so it doesn't decay. That will keep the connections intact for a reasonably long period of time, so you can scan and duplicate them. Formaldehyde is the usual modern-day way to preserve brains for study.

Naturally there will still be some loss of the original structure, but you can say the super-advanced scanning process can compensate for minor damage.

You haven't really specified what conditions the brain-preservation has to take place under. If it's in a hospital, it might be simplest to surgically remove the brain and just drop it in a jar of formaldehyde. On the battlefield, perhaps a medic would just sever the deceased person's whole head before dropping it in the jar, maybe drill some holes in the skull so the formaldehyde can get in. You could imagine a complicated helmet-like device that could do this automatically. Or it could be some sort of injector together with a pump to make the blood circulate so the formaldehyde penetrates deeply into all areas of the brain.


Flash freeze

As far as we are able to come up with "solutions" to this (jdunlop makes a point in the comments of how we don't fully understand how the brain works and how information is retained), a form of localized cryonics seems like a good option. Flash freezing, or vitrification, "helps to prevent the formation of ice crystals and helps prevent cryopreservation damage", which is a necessity. No ice crystals, but an "amorphous ice" is formed to conserve the matter.

This 'brain freeze' should logically be activated as soon as possible upon body-death. Barring wearing weird helmets full of cryoprotectant that gets injected as soon as e.g. brain waves are no longer being measured, potential "clients" could wear obvious signs of wanting this treatment, and have their brains (or heads) flash frozen when the paramedics arrive.

While (currently) a pseudoscience, it has sufficient reputation for successful worldbuilding.


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