Is it possible to bring people back from the dead? For the past six years an Australian organisation has been freezing the brains of deceased people, so that at some point in the future their experiences and memories can be restored using a physical avatar. Six Australians have undergone this procedure. Brian Fisher was the last.
Airdate: 
Friday, July 4, 2014 - 19:30
Channel: 
SBS Two

The brain is staggering. It is the most complex information rich artefact on the planet.

The kilo and half that we carry around in our head can perform something like 200 trillion operations per second... But a couple of years ago, the sum total of all the computers on the planet passed the level of one human brain in raw computational power… Based on those predictions, it’ll be about 2045 by the time we have a computer with the same computation as one human brain that we can buy for about $1000.

But this is not a story about the human brain. It’s a story about love: a love of life, of science… and the love of a son for his father.

Matt Fisher; "Dad was wonderful. He was a wonderful loving father who was always there for us. Dad was one of the first house-husbands, I guess you could say. He stayed at home with us and worked on his art in the studio out the back of the house.

"He was a really nice guy, who life had ended up kicking around for the last few years. But everyone just had so many nice things to say about how nice a guy he was."

Brian Fisher was 73 when he passed away with brian tumours in 2012.

Brian Fisher has been dead for two years now but his life isn’t over. He’s coming back, but nobody knows when and nobody knows how.

"I really hope that he will be brought back in his entirety. And he can teach me everything he knows about art and I can teach him everything that I know about engineering." Matt says.

"I envision a world where the children have to be taught that, historically, everyone’s bodies got old and they had less energy and they died - and they would be upset about it and not under stand why such a barbaric thing ever existed. That’s the sort of world I want to live in."

Matt Fisher is 31 and wants to live in a world where death is a thing of the past.

"Personally, if I could maintain health and vitality that I have now…I don’t envision a day where I would want everything to end.

"With advancing medical technology, it seems to me almost in inevitable eventually we’ll get to a stage where we can fix anything that goes wrong with the human body. And that includes all the degenerative effects of aging, reduced energy, saggy skin, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer... And at that point, everyone alive will essentially have an open-ended lifespan."

Most people are aware of this from science fiction films, and Futurama. But it's real and it’s been happening for the last 50 years.

Brian Fisher's brain is somewhere in Sydney. It is preserved at cryogenic temperatures, in the hope that one day technology will advance to the point where information stored in his brain, a lifetime of memories, all his experiences, even his personality could be read out of the frozen tissue.

In Australia, you can’t freeze your whole body but you can freeze your brain. Six Australians have done that so far. Brian Fisher was the last.

"I want to be able to bring back all of him. His artistic talent, his sense of humor, his big heart, basically everything…

"It’s very hard to predict what technologies are going to enable my father’s revival. There are different theories, some people think that you could give him a robot body, some people think he could be uploaded to a computer a run purely as software. Or we could make a complete copy of the brain atom by atom and put that into a cloned body.

"I like to speculate that the pharaohs of ancient Egypt nearly got it right because when they were mummified, they had all their organs preserved in jars. Except the brain. And it’s conceivable that some future technology may have been to revive them had they preserved the brain. Which to them would have looked like an afterlife filled with unimaginable luxuries. They would have succeeded in their goal of reaching the afterlife. But they didn’t preserve their brain. They preserved everything else but [the brain]. Which is tragic. "