Cue the zombie apocalypse in 3…2…1…

I’m pretty much an atheist/agnostic, so this is not about doctors playing God in my mind. Objectively, it’s a pretty cool experiment that – if effective – could bring loved ones back to their families.

That said, there’s a creeped out zombiephobe in me that imagines any number of things going wrong with horrifying results.

A biotech company in the US has been granted ethical permission to recruit 20 patients who have been declared clinically dead from a traumatic brain injury, to test whether parts of their central nervous system can be brought back to life.

Scientists will use a combination of therapies, which include injecting the brain with stem cells and a cocktail of peptides, as well as deploying lasers and nerve stimulation techniques which have been shown to bring patients out of comas.

The trial participants will have been certified dead and only kept alive through life support. They will be monitored for several months using brain imaging equipment to look for signs of regeneration, particularly in the upper spinal cord – the lowest region of the brain stem which controls independent breathing and heartbeat.

reanimatorYou know what comes to mind? Frankenstein. Also “The Re-Animator” and The Walking Dead.

Not everything in my head is completely irrational. Other – more rational questions – also pop up.

Will this technique eventually wake the dead?

Will they be the same, or is this technique doing to create a “blank slate” human, who doesn’t remember the life he or she previously lived? And if so, what are the ethical implications of creating such a human being – without the wealth of experience and memories – and essentially without values?

Would this person have to be taught everything from scratch, including who his or her family members and friends are, right from wrong, etc.?

Would they have an insatiable hunger for brains?

I love and respect scientific progress. It has given us life-saving technologies, vaccines that prevent all sorts of communicable diseases, pain relief, and hunger relief, just to name a few. But there’s a part of me that wonders if we’re not moving just a bit too quickly for our own good.

I wonder if sometimes we fail to think outside the box when examining potential consequences of our scientific progress. Sure, it’s impossible that zombies will wake up and eat the living, but what if…?

10 responses

  1. “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

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  2. Brain dead volunteers? Try Capital Hill

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Or the Trump campaign.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    A few years back, I read a short story (by Tanith Lee?) about this woman who had been “frozen” until a cure for her disease was found.

    The narrator was caring for this woman as she adjusted to her new time.

    However, the narrator became convinced that the original woman had actually died and the current personality in the woman’s body wasn’t human.

    Unfortunately, the narrator like everybody who came into contact with “whoever she actually was” was under “her” control.

    Of course, there were other “cold-sleepers” being woken and the narrator knew that the “cold-sleepers” were no more human than the woman “he” served.

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  4. To allay your concerns, I recommend a full-length foray into ‘Young Frankenstein’. Maybe two forays.

    Beyond providing a means of restoring damaged neural ganglia to full function, I fail to see any other tangible benefits. Why not bring back your dead pet dog? Dig up Grandpa so that he can regale you with his exploits in WWI?

    My real concern with this is not a zombie apocalypse. It’s this desperate need to stop Death in his tracks. And I hate to drag these people into a serious denouement, but it’s the fate of all living things that we are born, we grow and we move on. Interfering with the natural course of things in this way does not make sense, any more than it makes sense to extend life beyond its natural span.

    These people have to stop playing God. It will come back to haunt them.

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  5. We are encountering less and less of this sort of thing in the medical world, fortunately because we are not resuscitating as many people as we used to. I see this sort of research as a bit redundant. Maybe in cases of brain/spinal damage, perhaps. Perhaps. If the EEG is flat, I am all for pulling the plug and letting families get on with the process of letting go and grieving, because, and I am speaking for myself, if I am in there somewhere, I don’t want to exist in this kind of twilight zone hell.

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  6. “Let’s try to bring the dead back to life, what could possibly go wrong?” Yeah well they said “No harm came from reading a book.” and look how that ended up?

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  7. “And if so, what are the ethical implications of creating such a human being – without the wealth of experience and memories – and essentially without values?”

    Ummm….. you mean…. like babies? 8>O

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    1. Well that’s my point. They would be physical adults, however. And legal ones.

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  8. I was thinking Resident Evil or…Ringo’s Black Tide actually. Besides the zed apocalypse is already here. What else do you call people who sit there with their noses buried in their phones texting all day? They are effectively Beta zombies. I’m just waiting for the alpha hordes to emerge. Then the grand zombie slaughter starts.

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