- Sebastian Seung. Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are. Houghton Mifflin. 2012: 271. ISBN 9780547678597.
Merkle's definition of death is of more philosophical than practical importance. To apply it, we need to know exactly how memories, personality, and other aspects of personal identity are stored in the brain.
- Cerullo MA. The Ethics of Exponential Life Extension Through Brain Preservation (PDF). Journal of Evolution and Technology. March 2016, 26 (1): 94–105.
This is known as the information-theoretic definition of death and appears to be the ultimate definition of irreversible death.
- Doyle DJ. Life, Death and Brain Death: A Critical Examination. Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine. 2011, 2 (1): 11–31. doi:10.1615/EthicsBiologyEngMed.2011003293.
In the later case, sometimes called “absolutely irreversible death” or “information theoretic death” destruction of the brain has occurred to such an extreme that any information it may have ever held is irrevocably lost for all eternity.
- Whetstine L, Streat S, Darwin M, Crippen D. Review: Pro/con ethics debate: When is dead really dead?. Critical Care. October 2005, 9 (6): 538–542. PMC 1414041. PMID 16356234. doi:10.1186/cc3894.
This approach to defining death, which is rooted not in relative, changing technology and vitalistic worldviews, but rather in the fundamentals of physical law, is known as the information theoretic criterion of death.
- Crippen DW, Whetstine LM. Ethics review: Dark angels – the problem of death in intensive care. Critical Care. February 2007, 11 (1): 202. PMC 2151911. PMID 17254317. doi:10.1186/cc5138.
Cryptographer and nanotechnologist Ralph Merkle noted, “The difference between information theoretic death and clinical death is as great as the difference between turning off a computer and dissolving that computer in acid.
- Ali Afzali M. Brain death from the perspective of shia and modern medicine (PDF). Journal of Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences. December 2013, 24 (113): 221–233.
The theory of information-theoretical death was introduced, stating that the human brain cell arrangement at one point in time loses its stored information and experiences brain death (translate.reference.com)
- Wowk B. Special Section. "Death by Neurologic Criteria 1968-2014: Changing Interpretations": The future of death. Journal of Critical Care. December 2014, 29 (6): 1111–1113. PMID 25194588. doi:10.1016/j.jcrc.2014.08.006.
One possible answer is a definition of death that is independent of technology, no matter how advanced. Such a definition is the Information Theoretic Criterion for Death.
- David Crippen. The problem of death in critical care medicine. (编) Singh, Mamta B; Bhatia, Rohit B. Emergencies in Neurology. Byword Books. 2011: 396–404. ISBN 978-8181930675.
Any meaningful definition of death is then suggested by an information-theoretic criterion. In other words, does that patient contain enough undamaged structure (information) to infer his healthy working state from his current non-functional one?
- Hughes JJ. The Death of Death. (编) Machado C, Shewmon A. Brain Death and Disorders of Consciousness, Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, Volume 550. Springer. 2004: 79–88. ISBN 978-0306484827.
We will soon need to scrap the brain death standard in favor of a much more tentative, probabilistic, information-theoretic understanding of death as the loss of identity-critical information.
- Newsweek Staff. Back to Life: The Science of Reviving the Dead. Newsweek. 22 July 2007.
(Ralph Merkle) has used this idea to popularize a fourth definition of death: "information-theoretic" death, the point at which the brain has succumbed to the pull of entropy and the mind can no longer be reconstituted. Only then, he says, are you really and truly dead.