Cheating Death in Silicon Valley Click


Cheating Death in Silicon Valley

Click investigates technologies promising to help you live longer, from young blood plasma injections to preserving your body for future resurrection.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

That's it from me, Duncan Golestani

will be here at 2am.

0:00:000:00:00

Now on BBC News,

it's time to Click.

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This week, preserving people during

life and after death. The digital

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legacy that you leave behind. And

lots of reasons. -- freezers.

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Ah, the streets of San Francisco!

Mecca for technology innovators and

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officially on are those. A

destination where the cult of geek

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reigns supreme. Everyone's got that

billion-dollar idea here and

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everyone wants to save the world.

The ethos of nothing's impossible

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runs in the veins and Twitter feeds

of every twentysomething Zuckerberg

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wannabe. Now Silicon Valley is

taking on life's biggest challenge,

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death.

Dave Lee has been looking at how

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Silicon Valley is trying to help us

all live longer.

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This will be my last meal for 36

hours. Like a growing number of

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people in Silicon Valley, I'm about

to try fasting, something some here

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believe could contribute to

extending our lifespan.

My advice to

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you is sleep in really late so you

don't have to deal with it!

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Christian Brown is a biotechnology

journalist. She tells me living

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longer is becoming something of an

obsession for many tech people.

We

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tend to see people not just being in

the body as a machine but talking

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about it metaphorically as a

machine.

Is it making any progress?

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It's growing so quickly right now,

we understand so much more this year

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than we did last year even but the

other thing about science is the

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more questions you and so, the more

questions there are.

The following

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morning my first stop after a

skipped breakfast was Jeffrey Woo.

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He is chief executive of a firm

called human. He says fasting can

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improve productivity and increase

our lifespan. Jeffrey promotes the

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36 hour faster that I'm on and his

company sells products they claim

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will boost your body's reaction to

fasting.

So when you're extending

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beyond a 24-hour fast you're dipping

into a metabolic state called key

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ptosis, which stores your body fat

into an efficient source of energy.

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As one gets better at being in key

ptosis, cognitive clarity ends up

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being a productivity boost.

To test

it we measured the key to level in

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my body with a simple blood test. My

ketone levels were low, has to be

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expected, but next I drank one of

their ketone producing products.

You

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can expect to within 15 minutes are

equivalent to five to seven days

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worth of fasting in your system.

The

science behind what benefits can be

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had isn't exactly watertight. One

study suggests one of human's other

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products may not have any greater

effect than a cup of coffee. The

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moment of truth for me came around

30 minutes later. Wow.

2.2. OK.

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Eventually equivalent to having

fasted for three or four days in 30

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minutes.

Theeb session with reduced

the nation and longevity here has

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even been satirised on HBO's Silicon

Valley.

It's my transfusion

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associate.

Like all great comedy,

it's funny because it's true.

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One incredible idea being tested

here can be traced back to this man,

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Paul Burt. In the mid-1800 he

claimed if you took an old mouse and

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literally stitched it together with

a young mouse, the young mouse would

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become more agile, have a better

memory and heal more quickly once it

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had the young blood flowing through

its brains. Of course we can't start

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stitching humans together but there

is a start-up that thinks it can do

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than expected thing.

This is a California based start-up

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that believes weekly injections of

blood plasma from young people can

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help fight of our signers.

We

treated these patients once a week

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for four weeks with one unit of

plasma and we found the treatment

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was safe and very importantly,

although it was a short study to see

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learning and memory improvements,

but it was good enough to see some

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near-term improvements.

The team said it found those treated

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were more capable of basic daily

tasks and more aware of their

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surroundings. Encouraging but far

from conclusive. So far it's only

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been proven that this technique

works with mice, but it's hoped that

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extensive human studies might help

this team unlock the secret to

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easily rejuvenate in humans.

Ultimately we might be able to

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identify agents that can be

administered orally.

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To gather this database set up a

partnership to get the blood plasma

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from great Falls, a major

pharmaceutical firm based in Spain.

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People are being paid to give up

their young blood.

Well, that's a

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fascinating ethical question. I

actually think that there is a large

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pool of donors currently which is

increasing and I think there's an

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increasing recognition of how

valuable plasma proteins are.

To get

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some answers on whether or not

fantastical ideas could actually

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work, I went to visit one of the

world's foremost experts on ageing.

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Fasting elicits a response in your

body that triggers a protection

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against many diseases associated

with age. So growing realisation

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that multiple forms of fasting might

be beneficial in the long-term.

One

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of them or perhaps outrageous ideas

is that you can transfer young blood

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into an older person and that will

rejuvenate and slow the ageing

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process, is that true?

First let's

talk about the science in mice. It

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is actually amazing work. The

science is really strong. Now,

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taking this and bringing it to

humans is a completely different

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story, so the idea for example that

one would take human plasma or human

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plasma product and give it to humans

to prevent ageing is, in my opinion,

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lunacy.

Finally, my 36 hours were up. I'm

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not sure it's worth it, the lows I

had last night and this morning were

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awful and to do that regularly I

think might lead to a longer life

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but it certainly wouldn't be a

happier one. What could be really

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interesting, though, is if these

companies can recreate the positive

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effects of fasting without the hard

work of having to go without food

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for such a long period of time. But

for now, I think I'm going to choose

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breakfast.

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That was Dave Lee. And while the

quest for a longer life might take a

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little while longer, technology has

been looking at other ways to help

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us live on through avatars. The

University of Salford California has

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been creating virtual versions of

Holocaust survivors for the last few

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years, preserving their memories and

experiences for future generations.

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Survivors are interviewed at length

inside a special light stage used by

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Hollywood to capture them in 360

degrees. Using voice recognition and

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machine learning, anyone can

interact with these digital

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holograms at special exhibit sites.

One end, that was my dad's Aston

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Martin survived, so from the

immediate extended family there were

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three of us that survived.

I went along for a scan myself. Now

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the rig admittedly looks rather make

sure with lots of low-cost cameras

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capturing me from different angles.

By scanning some extreme facial

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expressions, most mouse movements

and emotions can also be simulated

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by merging between them.

Right now

we can capture ourselves as we are

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today, perhaps our people, our lives

are going to get older and the next

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generation would see them any more.

Can I capture grandma and grandpa?

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Can I capture enough of how they've

moved, what they think to a certain

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extent, we combine that with

artificial intelligence where it

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would be possible to have an

interaction with a person who is not

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alive any more.

Here in the UK the four of the

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project is also working on a similar

idea at the national Holocaust

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centre and museum, virtually

preserving survivor experiences.

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Bardet digital legacy isn't just for

people like these. Most of us will

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leave a will regarding our

possessions or instructions for our

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funeral arrangements but now

emphasis is also being placed on our

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digital footprint too. I spoke to

Facebook's head of global policy

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about our postmortem account

options. This is such an incredibly

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sensitive subject that for Facebook

I would imagine is an impossible

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task to get right.

It's certainly a

very difficult area for us. Losing

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people is so hard and at Facebook we

want to make sure that we are

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respecting that person's life and

respecting the choices that person

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made, but we also want to make sure

we're making this process as easy as

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possible for the family members that

are going through it and actually

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it's sometimes hard for us to

satisfy both of those.

So I'd

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imagine a lot of people do not tell

you, Facebook, what they want to

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happen to their accounts after their

death, so how do you know what to

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do?

That's right, a lot of people

don't. I want to be clear that there

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is a way to tell Facebook what you

would like to happen to your account

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after you pass away, we call it our

legacy contact. You can actually

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designate someone who can look after

your account after you're gone.

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Basically this gives the person, you

can choose what authority you want

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the person to have, but this gives

the person the choice to, say,

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change your profile photo or add

friends or put a post at the top of

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your profile. They do not become

you, they cannot control every

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feature of the account, they can

take some actions, they can choose

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to delete the account, but they do

not have the ultimate control to

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look at your private messages.

Family and friends have particular

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feelings about what happens to

someone's memories when they're

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gone, they don't always agree. How

do you even begin to settle those

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disputes?

We will delete the profile if one

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person asks for it. Now, having gone

through this myself, I lost my

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husband a little more than a year

ago, and my experience was that it

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was very powerful for me and very

comforting for me to be able to look

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at things that he had written, to

see photos that he had posted. It

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made me feel like I could still

connect with him and that he still

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was a very active presence in my

life.

I wonder whether you had any

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advice to people watching this on

how to go forward if they experience

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something similar?

I think the

important thing is have the

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conversations now and talk about how

you would want to treat your digital

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legacy, including what do you want

to happen to your online presence,

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your Facebook account, your other

accounts, and what is your plan for

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making sure that your estate, all

the practical things that we don't

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like to think about very much in our

daily lives are taken care of so

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your loved ones don't have to go

through that.

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Welcome to the week in tech. It was

the week that the head of Microsoft

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said the world is running out of

computing capacity and that quantum

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is the only way forward.

A new degree in flying car

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engineering was announced at an

e-learning school in Silicon Valley.

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And Facebook invented a new unit of

time called a Flick. It's designed

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to help video editors and people

working in visual effects. The new

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unit lasts longer than a nanosecond

but is shorter than a microsecond.

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And Sky decided to take on the likes

of Amazon and Netflix, launching its

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new now TV stick. It's also

announced its goodbye to the old sky

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satellite dishes as all its services

go online from 2019. Also this week

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General Motors became the first of

driving car manufacturer to be sued

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over an accident. Its Chevrolet

bolted a motorcyclist back in

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December. Meanwhile Tesla had its

own autopilot problems when a model

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-esque ploughed into a fire truck.

The race to put the first privately

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funded spacecraft on the moon is

over and not with a rocket launch

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but a tweet and a statement. The

Google lunar X prize offered a $200

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million prize fund for the first

team to land on the moon by March.

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Finally, a robot working in a

supermarket has been fired by just

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one week for scaring customers

await. Fabio was an Experian to see

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if robots would interact well with

shoppers but it turns out it's

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instructions such as the beer is in

the alcohol aisle infuriated people

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rather than helping them. The job

market is tough out there!

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Unexpected

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item in bagging area...

A familiar

phrase, but as we've seen this week

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one that we may not need to hear

much longer. Amazon Go's Seattle

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store finally launched on Monday.

You can check in with your phone,

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cameras and sensors will log what

you pick up and you will be

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instantly charged. They -- aren't

the only companies trying to crack

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the cashier was supermarket model.

It's time for a rather

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unconventional shopping experience.

The first thing I'm going to do is

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get out my bag. I visited this north

London convenience store, where IBM

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have been putting their prototype

instant check out to the test.

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Because when it comes to actually

checking out, the ID cards that sit

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on all of the products will be

instantly scanned in one go, so you

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can put everything on here

straightaway, although it does sort

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of feel wrong. And something sweet.

So I have everything they need in my

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shopping bag, but I can't leave just

yet. In fact, this is the fun bit.

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It's time for the instant check out.

I put down my bag full of items and

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immediately what's on at that

seamlessly comes up on the screen.

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If your cons -- you are concerned

this could make things too easy for

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shoplifters, because obviously it

looks like you've legitimately paid,

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then fear not. There is something to

overcome that. Readers can be placed

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right by the doors, so if anybody

does try to leave with something

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that hasn't been scanned, the alarm

will go. For customers who are happy

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to share their habits and behaviour,

artificial intelligence will come

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into play to combine that

information with data on their

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surroundings.

Convenience store like

this will drastically change what

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people will come in and buy, how

many people come in and when. It

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able to use all of those mass

volumes of data, with

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predictability, all of that means we

will be able to tell the retailer

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what to keep in stock and when.

And

that's a real driver behind all of

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this. To understand our shopping

habits from the moment we enter a

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shop until we leave. This mill and

store, dubbed the supermarket of the

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future, features a lot of screens.

-- Milan store. There are cameras

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collecting data on customers'

movements and interactions with

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products. The designers of the space

of that as well as providing an

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insight into the retailer the data

collection will better the overall

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shopping experience.

A lot of

information available regarding food

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does not appear anywhere when you

get into the supermarket, so all of

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this data availability doesn't show

up, so we need to give that kind of

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information back to the customer.

But while most of us are still

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actually engaging with humans, it

seems that the cashier less shop

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could be coming to a place near you

fairly soon.

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Now, we've been looking at various

ways to try and extend human life,

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possibly indefinitely, but

researchers can't do it yet and so

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on till they can there are those who

are offering to put your life on

0:17:390:17:45

pause. Marc Cieslak has been the

Arizona to meet the

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self-preservation society.

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Debt and taxes, as the saying goes,

are the two things none of us can

0:18:000:18:04

avoid. What about if there was a

workaround for death, some way of

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extending our physical existence on

this planet? This was founded in

0:18:080:18:14

1972 in order to preserve people at

the point of death, freeze them and

0:18:140:18:19

then when technology is sufficiently

advanced revive them in the future.

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A process it calls cryonics.

This is

an interesting graphic on the

0:18:220:18:31

history of cryonics, which goes back

to 1773, when Benjamin Franklin

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fought about the future of America.

What goes on in this space? I am

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seeing this simulates what you would

normally perform when somebody dies.

0:18:440:18:48

Exactly. We have to wait for the

legal death to be declared. Remove

0:18:480:18:53

the patience to the ice bath, we

cover them ice, and it the same time

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we will restart all kinds of things.

We will use a respirator to recover

0:18:580:19:03

breathing, we will use this

mechanical CBI device and we are

0:19:030:19:07

doing that because we want to

administer a series of different

0:19:070:19:10

medications to protect their cells.

It is even though the patient is

0:19:100:19:13

dead?

If I when you donate an organ,

even though the person has been

0:19:130:19:17

declared dead that doesn't mean all

of the cells are suddenly dead.

0:19:170:19:23

Patients are effectively pumped full

of antifreeze to protect their

0:19:230:19:27

tissue from freezing the process

which comes later. It costs up to

0:19:270:19:32

$200,000 to preserve a full body and

$60,000 if somebody just wants their

0:19:320:19:37

head preserved.

This is the

operating room. We put the patient

0:19:370:19:42

on the special operating table. This

is designed to shape the patient for

0:19:420:19:46

long-term storage. We don't want

someone at a low B with their arm

0:19:460:19:52

sticking out.

-- with their arms

sticking out. Usually when we do a

0:19:520:19:59

separation, we do it if you

vertebrae down, and then place the

0:19:590:20:04

brain plus the skull upside down.

Essentially it is the same process,

0:20:040:20:10

we remove the blood and fluids from

the brain and protect them against

0:20:100:20:14

ice formation.

Why would people want their head

0:20:140:20:16

separated from their body?

My view is that unless I die early

0:20:160:20:21

in an accident, my body will be in

lousy shape anyway and the whole

0:20:210:20:27

thing will have to be regenerated.

Why go to the extra cost of storing

0:20:270:20:31

my whole body, which is ten times

the volume of just my head?

0:20:310:20:36

The corridors here are aligned with

photos of people who are already

0:20:360:20:43

frozen in Alcor's storage facility.

This is where we store all of our

0:20:430:20:48

patients, we have 152.

These are all

of your patience?

Yes. All of our

0:20:480:20:56

patients here. About two thirds of

them are in Europe. -- are in a

0:20:560:21:01

different section.

They are just

heads?

Yes. Half of the members are

0:21:010:21:06

full body. This contains four full

body patience.

Doesn't have any

0:21:060:21:14

legal obligation to the people

stored here, as they technically

0:21:140:21:17

donated their bodies to science.

What happens if you have a power

0:21:170:21:22

cut?

We don't need electricity for

this. These are passive vessels,

0:21:220:21:28

very expensive firma flasks. We just

use the liquid nitrogen to maintain

0:21:280:21:35

a temperature.

Alcor says it's a

non-profit organisation and it has

0:21:350:21:42

1150 people signed up for its

services, including Silicon Valley

0:21:420:21:49

billionaire Peter Teele. But what

makes ordinary people shall upto

0:21:490:21:55

$200,000 for cryogenic preservation?

Act in the UK, this man has not

0:21:550:21:59

himself and his family up for just

that via a different outfit called

0:21:590:22:05

The Cryonics Institute.

Imagine

being on your deathbed, dying, and

0:22:050:22:13

then immediately waking up

straightaway because the passage of

0:22:130:22:16

time would mean anything, because I

will be dead. So I'll wake up

0:22:160:22:21

immediately and hopefully I will be

able to remember things. Have my

0:22:210:22:28

memory intact, hopefully.

Your whole

family is going to be preserved as

0:22:280:22:31

well?

Yeah. Luckily my wife and

daughter are for the idea and are

0:22:310:22:37

signed up members of the institute.

But it is all too good to be true?

0:22:370:22:45

We spoke to a neuroscientist who

have serious misgivings about the

0:22:450:22:48

basic foundations of cryonics.

You

really can't afford to freeze

0:22:480:22:51

biological tissue until it has been

appropriately protected, but unless

0:22:510:22:56

you take it down to those low

temperatures for protection quite

0:22:560:22:59

quickly, it will continue to

decompose. My problem with the

0:22:590:23:04

cryonics dream, the wishful thinking

contracts that are sold, if they

0:23:040:23:13

haven't resolved that conflict.

There is no evidence that they can

0:23:130:23:16

get the antifreeze into all those

micro nooks and crannies in the

0:23:160:23:19

brain and satisfactorily protected.

We put this to Alcor, who provided a

0:23:190:23:25

detailed response:

0:23:250:23:26

Said is this the ultimate insurance

policy then?

Yeah, it doesn't cost

0:23:400:23:48

us anything. A bit of money.

0:23:480:23:51

That was Marc Cieslak and that's it

from San Francisco the now. Don't

0:23:560:24:02

forget, there's loads of extra stuff

from us on Twitter and on Facebook.

0:24:020:24:07

Thanks for watching and see you

soon.

0:24:070:24:10

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