Here’s a new offer from a company in Russia that you might be interested in if you’re approaching the later stages of life. And it’s one that brings up all sorts of questions about morality, technology and the fundamental nature of the human soul. The firm is named KrioRus, and for a fee, that will take you or your loved one after you pass away and freeze your brain (or even your entire body) and preserve it, with a mind toward reviving you when the technology catches up sufficiently. (Reuters)

When Alexei Voronenkov’s 70-year-old mother passed away, he paid to have her brain frozen and stored in the hope breakthroughs in science will one day be able to bring her back to life.

It is one of 71 brains and human cadavers – which Russian company KrioRus calls its “patients” – floating in liquid nitrogen in one of several metres-tall vats in a corrugated metal shed outside Moscow.

They are stored at -196 degrees Celsius (-320.8°F) with the aim of protecting them against deterioration, although there is currently no evidence science will be able to revive the dead.

You can read about all of KrioRus’ offerings on their website. (You’ll probably want your browser to translate that for you if you’re not fluent in Russian.) If you want to try this it’s going to set you back $36,000 for a whole body or $15,000 for the brain alone. Those prices are for Russian citizens, however. There’s an added fee if you’re from another country.

People have been toying with this idea for ages. There was a rumor going around for a long time that Walt Disney had his body frozen after he died, but that doesn’t seem to be true. Still, there were companies offering that service. This just seems to be the latest iteration of the process, though they claim to have improved the technology.

Yes, it sounds far-fetched, but it does bring us back to the age-old questions surrounding such schemes. If this turned out to be possible with some future technological and medical advancements, would you want to do it? Does anyone really want to be immortal? It not only seems grossly unnatural but wouldn’t you eventually grow tired of living?

An even more perplexing question comes with issue of what happens to you when you die and are put into the deep freeze. I don’t mean your body. I mean you… your consciousness. Your spirit. Or if you prefer… your soul. If the soul has departed the body before it’s frozen, what happens when you’re thawed out and revived? Does your consciousness return as it was before? And if so, where was it for all of those intervening years and what was it doing?

Similar debates plague another method of achieving immortality that’s currently in the works. There are people working on the possibility of uploading your mind into a computer, with some people working in that field predicting that we might be able to pull this off by 2045. There are two obvious questions with that process that probably come to mind (pardon the phrase) immediately. First, even if all of the data in your brain is on a computer drive, could a computer actually “operate” like your brain so you could continue thinking and interacting?

Second, that information on the computer drive would only be a copy of you. What about the “you” that’s still back in your body? I mean, you’re still going to experience death, right? So is it really even immortality if you don’t get to enjoy it but a clone of you is in a robot? The whole thing just sounds too creepy for words.

One final thought experiment for you to ponder comes to us from Gareth Cook at Scientific American. He’s one of many journalists exploring the fundamental reality of human consciousness itself. Is consciousness something that’s created by our brains and contained within ourselves? Or do our brains “download” consciousness from some universal fountain of awareness?

It’s a concept known as “panpsychism,” and it posits that everything in the universe, right down to the subatomic particles, is conscious on some level. And more complex creatures like humans and other animals experience consciousness in a way that’s derived from the experience of the brain’s most basic parts. And when we die, our consciousness continues on, though perhaps in a simpler form.

None of these questions will likely be answered in my lifetime (except for what we’re all going to find out – or not find out – when our time comes) but it’s simply fascinating to consider. As for me, if someone comes along offering to freeze me or turn me into a robot, I think I’ll pass, thanks.