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Sarco, the controversial capsule for euthanasia in solitude, already has a first user in Switzerland

Sarco, the controversial capsule for euthanasia in solitude, already has a first user in Switzerland
Image of Sarco, resembling a coffin with transparent panels and sitting on a raised platform that tilts at an angle (Photo: File)

The decision of a death quickly and painlessly through Artificial intelligence (AI) could become a reality in a very few years.

And it is that a citizen of Swiss is waiting to be the first user of “sarko”a suicide machine 3D printed, in the shape of a coffin, which without the help of more people can end life in a matter of minutes.

According to its creator, the Australian Philip Nitschkewho is a defender of the euthanasiathe last tests are being carried out in his workshop in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, before being used with the first human being.


“Dr. Death”, as he is also known, recently confessed to the magazine MIT Technology Reviewthat although a first Sarco prototype was already exhibited in Germany and Poland, “the second was a disaster” so it was they corrected the errors to be released.

Nitschke is a true
Nitschke is a true “euthanasia guru”, who firmly believes that people have the right to decide how they die, whether they are terminally ill or not (Photo: Wikipedia)

The goal that has been pursued by a controversial scientist in the last 25 years is “demedicalize death”, because it seeks that assisted suicide is as little assisted as possible. Unlike euthanasia clinics, it does not require a doctor to administer an injection or approve lethal drugs.

“Actually, you don’t need a doctor to die”


At least, that’s the idea, as Nitschke hasn’t talked to the Swiss government or bypassed medical institutions for approval; however, it is one of the few countries that has legalized assisted suicide. This is allowed as long as the people who wish to die perform the final act themselves.

However, Switzerland requires that candidates for euthanasia show your brain powerwhich is usually evaluated by a psychiatrist.

(Photo: EFE)
(Photo: EFE)

“There is still the belief that if a person asks to die, they have some kind of undiagnosed mental illness”

“It is still not rational for a person to want to die”he added.

But he has a solution: the also CEO of Exit International is working on an algorithm to allow people to perform a kind of psychiatric self-assessment via computer. In theory, if a person passes this online test, the program would provide a four digit code to activate the Sarco machine.

How Sarco works

The person who has chosen to die locked inside this capsule must answer three questions: Who are you? Where are you? And do you know what will happen when you press that button?

The machine has a "panic button" that can be pressed by the user if he regrets his suicide (Photo: File)
The machine has a “panic button” that can be pressed by the user if he regrets his suicide (Photo: File)

If the test is passed, the hatch with transparent panels opens. So, pressing a button inside the capsule will do the following: Sarco to be filled with nitrogen gasa widely available gas, causing the user to feel “mildly drunk” before falling unconscious and eventually dying. All in less than five minutes.

Subsequently, a recording of that short final questionnaire will be delivered to the Swiss authorities.

The machine is portable, which means that it can be moved to the location desired by the user. Additionally, the capsule itself is biodegradable and can be detached from the bottom platform for use it as a casket for burial or cremation.

Live or die in the hands of AI?

Artificial intelligence in mathematics.  (photo: Europa Press)
Artificial intelligence in mathematics. (photo: Europa Press)

But while Nitschke sees AI as a way to empower people to make the ultimate decision for themselves, others wonder if this technology can help relieve humans of the burden of such choices.

“This rush to automate raises big questions with no easy answers. For what types of decisions is it appropriate to use an algorithm? How should those algorithms be built? And who gets to decide how they work?” reads the MIT Technology Review article.

It is pointed out that, although the AI ​​seems accurate, experts and regulators alike urge caution. The models offer a semblance of objectivity that can lead practitioners to delegate responsibility for ethical decisions, trusting the machine rather than questioning its outcome.

“The real work will consist of recognizing the horrible and arbitrary of many of the decisions that the AI ​​will have to make”stresses author Will Douglas Heaven.


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