Ken Hayworth has created an interesting prize for Brain Preservation Technology, designed to improve techniques of relevance to cryonics and mind uploading, but intended to be relevant to goals that don’t require preserving individual identity (such as better understanding of generic brains).
Many of the prize criteria are well thought out, especially the ones concerning quality of preservation. But there a few criteria for which it’s hard to predict how the judges would evaluate a proposed technique, and they will significantly impair the effectiveness of the prize.
The requirement that it have the potential to be performed for less than $20,000 requires a number of subjective judgments, such as the cost of training the necessary personnel (which will be affected by the quality of the trainers and trainees).
The requirement that it “be absolutely safe for the personnel involved” would seem to be prohibitive if I try to interpret it literally. A somewhat clearer approach would be to require that it be at least as safe as some commonly preformed procedure. But the effort required to compare risks will be far from trivial.
The requirement that we have reason to expect the preserved brains to remain stable for 100 years depends on some assumptions that aren’t well explained, such as why a shorter time period wouldn’t be enough (which depends on the specific goals of preservation and on predictions about how fast technology progresses), and what we should look at to estimate the durability – I suspect the obstacles to long-term stability are different for different techniques.
(I noticed this prize in connection with the ASIM 2010 conference, although I didn’t get much out of the part of the conference that I was able to attend).