The Board overseeing the Patient Care Trust (PCT) is chosen by the Alcor Board of Directors. The PCT Board exists for the purpose of controlling and approving all expenditures of PCT funds, which are for the long-term care and revival of Alcor patients. The five PCT Board members are chosen for five year staggered terms, and serve without pay. Alcor chooses PCT Board members to fulfill two of the most important objectives of Alcor’s Mission Statement: keeping current patients in biostasis, and then restoring them and reintegrating them into society. Three of five PCT Board members are required to have family members currently in cryopreservation, adding personal motives for secure care and revival when possible.
Individual Trusts created by individual members often use Alcor appointed “Trust Advisors” who can be called on to make important Trust-related decisions after the member has been cryopreserved. Trust Advisors are obligated to carry out the wishes and serve the interests of the member, not Alcor, but an Alcor-appointed Trust Advisor raises the concern that Alcor’s financial interests might be given undue weight in a Trust Advisor’s decision making process. The Alcor Model Revocable Asset Preservation Trust includes a paragraph discussing the financial incentive to revive you:
To provide an incentive to revive you sooner rather than later, the Model Trust lets you pick a percentage of the Trust Assets to be given to Alcor upon successful revival. Giving more to Alcor provides a greater incentive to revive you sooner (and also provides more funds with which to carry out that revival), but also a greater incentive to try risky techniques that might not be fully proven. Giving less to Alcor creates less financial incentive to rush into a premature attempt to revive you, but also provides less incentive to revive you in the timeliest fashion. It is difficult to say exactly how large this incentive should be, or even whether there should be an incentive, but the Model Trust lets you decide how big an incentive you want to provide for a successful revival.
Opinions about how big to make the financial incentive for revival, or even the advisability of such an incentive, vary considerably. Widely varying opinions are common in the cryonics community. Some individual members have Asset Preservation Trusts that provide a simple fixed annual percentage (anywhere from 1% to 5% annually) to Alcor with no other incentive, while others provide substantial sums upon their revival and little or nothing prior to that. The latter provides substantial financial incentive for early revival.
Besides the financial incentive provided by individual members’ Asset Preservation Trusts, the Alcor PCT can discharge its responsibilities to its patients by reviving them and reintegrating them into the community. This reduces the financial costs of reviving patients, and might even provide a financial incentive to revive patients. Just as computer technology keeps falling in price, many technology forecasters expect future advances in information-intensive technologies, including molecular manufacturing, and nanomedicine, to fall exponentially in price until reviving patients is actually less expensive than keeping them cryopreserved.
Financial incentives, however, are often not the most significant forces driving human behavior. As advancing preservation technology and advancing medical repair technology converge, the revival of recent patients who were cryopreserved with minimum damage will greatly increase the credibility of cryonics and the security of cryonics organizations. This benefits leaders and members of cryonics organizations by increasing the security and revival prospects of their cryopreserved friends and family. It will also increase their own survival prospects if and when they need cryopreservation themselves. Finally, from a very human and purely emotional perspective, the urge to say “We told you so!” will likely be irresistible.
Even after cryonics patients begin to be revived, there will still be injuries that cannot be repaired in real time and require cryopreservation to buy time or wait for even more advanced technology (e.g. severe brain trauma, extended periods of clinical death at warm temperature, or malfunctioning medical technology).
After the first few successful revivals, the whole world will view our patients as just that: patients. Once that change takes place, unnecessary delay in reviving them will be viewed in the same way we view any other delay in medical treatment. As a society, such delays are viewed as unacceptable socially, legally, ethically, morally, and politically. Undue delay could result in unrest, lawsuits, or even criminal liability for unlawful imprisonment. Alcor, as a prime mover in creating this societal change, is going to be the last organization to delay treating the patients under its care.
Claims that cryonics organizations might keep their patients cryopreserved forever for their own financial gain comes from the same lack of understanding from which the myth arose that cryonics may be consumer fraud.