If you have read my reading notes of Alcor’s book “Preserving Minds, Saving lives”, you are now familiarized with the field of Cryonics: the preservation of bodies in a state of biostasis until future technologies are sufficiently efficient to allow reanimation.
You will now have the privilege of getting to know a REAL cryonicist, a person who has made the intellectual step of opting for cryopreservation.
Maria Entraigues Abramson is a remarkable person, with many talents.
She seems straight out of a colorful science fiction novel.
As you will notice on this site, the people invested in future technologies and radical life extension, are often extraordinary and inspiring individuals.
Maria thank you for agreeing to answer my questions about cryopreservation. You are part of this ultra-tiny minority of patients who have chosen to rely on cryopreservation to optimize their chance of life perpetuation in the future.
You are a woman with many talents and activities, please take a few lines to introduce yourself, your subscription as an Alcor patient and your work at the SENS Research Foundation co-founded by Aubrey de Grey.
Thank you for having me!
I’ve been curious about the aging process since I was a little girl. I would feel sad about how much old people suffered while getting so ill, going through so much pain until they would lose themselves completely – I always felt something had to be done. As I grew up, I realized nobody was working on this terrible problem and I was surprised to see how everybody accepted this destiny without even questioning it.
About a decade ago while doing a search online I found Aubrey de Grey, I was so pleased to learn that someone else felt the same way I did about aging and not only that, that was actually working on fixing this problem using real science. I got so excited I immediately contacted him and offered my help! I had no formal scientific background, I was a singer/composer and a pilot, which didn’t seem like a good fit to work in his field, but to my surprise, he replied very quickly and accepted my offer to help! The first task I was given was translating his original website into Spanish. I kept volunteering for him and the Methuselah Foundation back then (co-founded by him and Dave Gobel).
Fast forward to today, I’m Global Outreach Coordinator of SENS Research Foundation (co-founded by him, Mike Kope and Sarah Marr). My work involves general Outreach, Development and Fundraising. I can’t imagine working on anything more important than addressing age-related disease.
Cryonics and ALCOR were incidental. We know that one day we will get aging under medical control, there’s no doubt about that, the big question is -will it happen in our lifetime? That’s when Cryonics comes in. Sometimes we refer to it as “Plan B”. 🙂
Back in 2006, I was sitting down having dinner at the SENS Conference in Queen’s College Cambridge, UK and Aubrey asked me if I was a member, I said I wasn’t and he passionately replied -well, you should be! A few months later I attended an ALCOR Conference and the last day of it I signed up, it was a no brainer.
Cryonics is certainly not a religion. However, like religions, it concerns the continuity of our existence (on earth and not in a paradise, a hell or through reincarnation). In your opinion, is it possible for individuals to opt for cryonics while retaining a traditional religious faith?
It really depends on the person. I’ve had conversations with religious people who are open to Cryonics cause they believe extending your life is not against God, “God never said you couldn’t live a very long life”. And if you think about it, the concepts of radically long lifespans, resurrection and eternal life, have been brought to us mainly by religion.
On the other hand, it is also true that most of the Cryonicists I know are atheist or agnostic, I’m one of them.
What I think people need to understand is that Cryonics is just another medical intervention, like heart surgery, organ transplants, an induced coma, blood transfusions, or any of the countless therapies we use to extend our lives today. Yes, Cryonics is more radical, but all new breakthroughs seem radical in the beginning, until one day they become common practice, then we adopt them and forget about how controversial they used to be.
What types of reaction from your entourage do you have to deal with when you announce that you have opted for cryopreservation?
Not so much really, this is most likely due to the fact that I mainly surround myself with like-minded people. That said when I do encounter people with a very negative or dismissive attitude, I just answer their questions to the best of my knowledge and never try to push them to change their minds.
I’ve decided some time ago that I was not going to try to “convert” people who were aggressive or totally against it, I don’t engage in these arguments anymore.
If somebody feels this is not for them, I respect them and let them be. I know this is not for everybody and I humorously call it “natural selection” (but I really believe that).
How do you explain the hostility frequently encountered when it comes to conquering death, whether by cryonics or any other technology allowing a radical extension of life?
Fear of the unknown has to be one of the main explanations, also psychological conditioning and disbelief. Humans have been offered snake oil for centuries, all the promises of eternal youth have always been fake, so it is hard to understand that now for the first time, this may not be science fiction anymore.
I bet you though, that all the people who so strongly fight these ideas today, would immediately take “the pill” if they were losing their health to aging and could stop it or reverse it.
Cryonics is a personal choice, however, what would be your best argument to convince a loved one to bet on cryopreservation?
It depends, my husband is a Cryonicist, my mother wants to sign up. My father died a long time ago when I was very young and didn’t know about this yet, he would have probably loved it if he knew it existed. My sister, on the other hand, is not interested and I will not try to persuade her, she is a very intelligent woman and even though she understands the science and the possibilities, this is not for her.
The desire for radical life extension is very personal; I believe something basic is that you really need to love your present life to want to extend it. When somebody keeps complaining about how bad their life is, they will most likely not be “longevitists”. At least this is what I gathered through my personal experience. So, my best argument to convince loved ones will only be my personal argument and will not necessarily work for others, but if you want to hear it is very simple: I believe life is wonderful, it is the most valuable thing I have and I want as much of it as I can get.
If there’s no life, obviously there’s no existence and if there’s no existence.. well, there’s nothing left, not cool to me.
So, If we do not “fix” aging we will all keep dying of it and the other only possibility we have today, is Cryonics.
I don’t know if it will work or not, maybe the chance is 1 in a million, but the option of death followed by burial or cremation, means losing it all 100 percent sure.
One of the negative arguments against cryonics is that people would not want to come back to life without their loved ones. Having decided to be cryopreserved with your husband, you perfectly illustrate a good counter-argument, namely that the cryopreservation process doesn’t need to be a solitary adventure. Do you see other arguments that could enthuse those fearing the prospect of a solitary awakening?
I can totally understand that and it is very hard for me to think about losing my friends and family in this life and also very sad to think I will probably not have them in a possible “second life”. At the same time, I strongly believe in a deep future and as much I would love to be able to take my loved ones with me, I understand some of them may not want the same thing I want.
I think for people like me, who want to go far into the future without fearing what it will be like, that desire takes precedence over anything else. I would never reject the possibility of staying alive and seeing the future, I will take it even if I had zero guarantees – I imagine I can always decide if I like it or not then, I was gonna be dead anyway. So, if I imagine myself alone in the future, I choose to picture the best scenario, which is that after many years I will hopefully have created new meaningful friendships and relationships.
A lot of people lose their loved ones and they don’t kill themselves, they keep on going and eventually many of them redo their personal lives and find new people to love. This wouldn’t be so different, plus you would have a much longer life to adapt and meet new people.
Do you think that cryopreservation could end up becoming a mass practice or is it intended to remain confined to a minority of informed futurists until real radical life extension alternatives become available?
I’m not sure, very hard to say. I imagine at some point we will have Rejuvenation Biotechnologies and won’t need Cryonics in the way we need it now, but I think Cryonics could still be used to “suspend” and bring people back when whatever killed them is fixed.
It is really hard to predict these things cause the future will most likely bring plenty of new solutions to disease and death that we can’t even begin to imagine today.
About Maria Entraigues Abramson
Maria Entraigues Abramson is currently Global Outreach Coordinator for the SENS Research Foundation co-founded by Dr. Aubrey de Grey. Her main goal in life is to help radically extend human health-span using new biotechnologies and regenerative medicine, so that one day old age will not mean illness and decrepitude.
Maria is an Argentinian-American singer, actress, composer, journalist and pilot. She is also a science and technology communicator and one of the leading voices in the field of Longevity. She came to the US for the first time after being granted a full scholarship to study at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. She later moved to sunny Los Angeles where she’s been established for the past 24 years.
Maria is a radical-change believer and spends her multifaceted life working on facilitating disruptive change to help the world. You can find her giving a scientific talk, singing live for thousands of people, composing and acting for a Hollywood film, doing music journalism, or flying an airplane. She was the appointed Cultural Attache to the Consulate General of Argentina in Los Angeles (2009–2012). Maria also writes a monthly column, and does interviews, for Músico Pro by Music Makers Publications, which is the biggest music magazine in Spanish.
In her music career, she’s been privileged to have toured the world as a singer, recording countless hours of professional studio sessions and composing and acting for movies and TV. Some of the people she’s worked with in the entertainment business are; George Duke, David Foster, Ricky Martin, Lalo Schifrin, Maurice Jarre, Luis Miguel, Jeff Rona, Eikichi Yazawa, Alejandro Lerner, Alejandro Fernandez, Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, David Schwimmer, Kiefer Sutherland, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Perry Ferrell, Alejandro Sanz, Jean Michel-Byron, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Geraldine Chaplin, Brett Ratner, Alfonso Arau, Pepe Aguilar, Cecilia Noël, and Colin Hay, among many others. She is now doing her own show called “A Jazz Affair”.
Maria is happily married to Gary Abramson.