NYT article on the subject tickled my funny bone, but also got me thinking about a very creepy eventuality. Say you opt for brain freezing, rather than whole body freezing (like the man featured in the story). OK, so they unfreeze you some day.
We tend to think of the brain as what really matters. But embodiment is, well, kind of important. Let's say you wake up in 2100. Maybe they've wired you up so you get inputs from a video camera. (Note: this is the premise for my first screenplay. DON'T steal it!) You look around the room. Not so bad! I survived! There are nice people in the room, intriguing new gadgets you'd like to experiment with. Great. (This part goes on for a while.) Then your automatically scanning videocamera changes perspectives and reveals you--now, just a brain in a tank.
Oh my god! This is really, really bad! Whatever the personal identity theorists may say, what we really feel is "our bodies, ourselves." Maybe the brain is the real me, but it's very, very freaky not to be a brain in a body. And not just freaky. Bodies do great things for us, like allowing us to move around and change the world. You know--walk across the room, pick up a cup, stuff like that.
The article doesn't get into this. In fact, for all its virtues, it has a continuity problem. At one point we're talking about whole body freezers. Next, the author is back to freezing brains. The people featured in the story never talk about the matter. Can you wake up "whole" if you don't bring your own body?
Right, maybe they'll come up with ways to simulate embodiment, as in Robert Nozick's experience machine or the famous brain-in-a-vat. So bodiless people will feel as if they have bodies...and won't have to freak out. But maybe not. Keeping the brain going seems much more doable than putting it in another body, and getting all the sensory and motor connections to work again.
Maybe we make too little of our embodiment--a holdover from the old idea that the real me is my soul. We figured out it's really the brain, but at least in some existential sense, to be me is to have my brain in more or less the same body.