Alcor Member Profile: John De Goes

From Cryonics May-June 2005

An interview with Cryonics Magazine with a 2013 update

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John de Goes

2013 Update:

John A. De Goes is founder and CEO of Precog, a data analysis company in Boulder, Colorado, where he is responsible for leading the design and development of the company’s data warehousing and analysis platform.

John and Sophia De Goes
John and Sophia De Goes.

Both he and his wife Sophia, an anesthesiologist, are members of Alcor. He was a member before they were married and said to her “I don’t want a future if you’re not there.”

“How could I turn that down?” she said, and became a member a few years later. “I just don’t believe in a spiritual after life. I believe that when you die, you die.”

“[Cryonics] is not a guarantee you’ll be happy [in a future world], but I feel that there are no guarantees that you’re going to be happy in life,” she said. “I just enjoy the life I have now, so I’d like to experience more of it.”

2005 Interview:

John De Goes

John A. De Goes is a computer scientist who holds a position in research and development at Synopsys, Inc., where he works on software designed to streamline the production of next-generation silicon chips. He currently lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

CM: Tell us about your first exposure to cryonics.

JDG: It was probably the movie Alien. This movie introduced me to the idea of suspended animation through low temperatures (even if it wasn’t portrayed in a realistic fashion). Later, I heard about cryonics through a Christian pastor, who was very hostile to the idea (so much so that he etched the subject into my mind permanently!). My own investigations into cryonics and Alcor were launched years later, in my early college years.

CM: When did you join Alcor and what motivated you to become a member?

JDG: I joined Alcor about 6 months ago. I’ve wanted to join (and have followed the developments in cryonics) for about 6 years, but I only recently became financially able to afford the cryopreservation arrangements I wanted.

CM: How does your membership impact your life plans or lifestyle?

JDG: I was a life extensionist before I became a cryonicist, so my membership hasn’t really affected my risk-avoidance tendencies or healthy lifestyle behaviors. However, I do wear an Alcor-engraved dog tag around my neck (the only piece of “jewelry” I own) and have tentative plans to retire near my cryonics provider (assuming it still hasn’t broken into mainstream by then, in which case I would expect most major cities to have cryopreservation facilities). I also have decided not to live outside the United States, after hearing the attitude towards cryonics in some other countries (e.g. France) and contemplating the odds of a good cryopreservation after 2-4 days postmortem (i.e. zero).

CM: What do you consider the most challenging aspect(s) of cryonics?

JDG: Cryonics is selling a product that doesn’t work (not today, and not until the development of true suspended animation or techniques are able to reverse the damage inherent in today’s procedures). In fact, it isn’t even near working, in the sense that we haven’t even vitrified and revived a small mammal such as a mouse. It’s hard to market such a product to the public (heck, it’s hard to market it to my friends who know me as a thoughtful, intelligent individual—let alone to complete strangers). This is why I think current cryonics organizations draw disproportionately from the people with the most to gain from cryonics: non-religious people with an especially strong desire for more life, the elderly, and so on. In order to broaden our appeal, we need to demonstrate proof-of-concept: reversible vitrification in a mammal. Until that occurs, cryonics will continue being a hard sell, even to those who truly wish it were valid.

CM: Have you met a lot of other Alcor members?

JDG: Only one in person, but I have conversed with many through online discussion groups and spoken with another one on the phone.

CM: What areas of Alcor’s program would you like to see developed over the next 5-10 years?

JDG: First and foremost, research and development! I understand that outside companies are likely to make more progress toward the development of better cryoprotectants than a single researcher working for Alcor, but there are lots of areas where an Alcor researcher could break new ground (e.g. annealing to reduce or prevent fracturing, magnetic resonance freezing, application of Alcor procedures to animal brains to determine efficacy of protocols, etc.). Second, I would like to see the membership application process streamlined. For example, Alcor could partner with a life insurance company (or provide this service itself), and for one low monthly fee, offer cryonic suspension services for certain fixed terms (5 year, 10 year, etc.). The membership signup process could be put on the web, so interested parties could signup in minutes by filling out a few forms and entering their credit card information. All they would have to do by hand is sign the Anatomical Gift Act and validate their health status. This would greatly increase the number of signups and do much to push cryonics towards the mainstream.

CM: What kind of lasting contribution would you like to make to cryonics?

JDG: At a minimum, I would like to increase the number of cryonicists through outspoken advocacy. Beyond that, my contributions depend on the directions my career takes in the future.

CM: What could Alcor do that would benefit you as a member?

JDG: Enable me to update all my information online. Also, Alcor should locate or develop and promote a 24/7 heart monitoring device that calls Alcor emergency numbers in the event of either heart failure or imminent signs of heart failure. This would reduce the number of cases where Alcor finds a member who has been dead for hours, days, or weeks. Other than that, the most important ways of benefiting me are through increases in membership numbers and funding of research and development operations.

CM: What do your friends and family members think about your cryopreservation arrangements?

JDG: They have mixed feelings. One is very supportive, another thinks it is cool (obviously he is a lifelong fan of science fiction!), and others have neutral or hostile feelings.

CM: What are your hobbies or special interests?

John De Goes

JDG: I enjoy bodybuilding, learning about science, researching new ideas in computer science, watching good movies, swing and lindy hop dancing, and playing computer adventure games. These are the hobbies that occupy most of my time, but of course there are others!

CM: What would you like to say to other members reading this interview?

JDG: Cryonics, in my view, should be promoted not as a way to escape death (every cryonicist will die sooner or later), nor as an alternative to an afterlife (on which grounds it cannot compete), but as a way to experience some part of the future of this world. If the future of this world interests you—be it colonies on Mars or your great grandchildren—then you might want to give cryonics a look, regardless of your religious beliefs. Also, do not become complacent! Vitrification is a landmark development in the history of cryonics, but it’s still a long way from suspended animation. We won’t know if cryonics works until it does work. So think about increasing your financial support for Alcor and other cryonics organizations.

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