RE: Charles Platt responds to Billy Brown on CryoNet Message #13281

From: Billy Brown (
Date: Thu Feb 24 2000 - 11:41:56 MST

Eugene Leitl wrote:
> Charles _has_ been harsh, but you should judge this from a long
> history of provokation, and keep in mind his intent.
> I myself have been somewhat rude to Bill Brown, and hereby
> apologize. I just got mad.

S'okay. I'm used to it. But really, I think you guys have mistaken me for
something I'm not.

I'm not one of these people who thinks that the Omega point has already made
everyone immortal, and all we have to do is sit back and enjoy. I don't
think that the nanoclaus machines will arrive in 5 years, and instantly
produce magical computers that can compute the entire past state of the
universe by examining a hot cup of tea. And I certainly don't think we
should stop doing research.

I do, however, think that the few people who actually do research on
suspension techniques spend all their time concentrating on how brains get
damaged in the present, which leaves them with very little time to think
about how they could be repaired in the future. This is entirely
appropriate, since the present is what we need to concentrate on now.
However, it seems to result in an undue level of pessimism over the ultimate
prospects for repair. To be honest, Charles Platt's reply reminds me a lot
of the things the cryobiologists like to say about cryonicists - totally
true from his perspective, but essentially irrelevant from mine.

Nevertheless, I'm willing to take another shot at this if you are. My basic
points are simply:

1) The fact that a structure looks completely scrambled tells you almost
nothing about how hard it would be to figure out what it originally looked
like. Look at image processing, or cryptography, or archaeology for that
matter. That doesn't mean that success is guaranteed in every case, but
experience shows that it is always possible to deduce a lot more than a
non-specialist would expect. Unfortunately, computational brain
reconstruction is a specialty that doesn't exist yet, so we can't just ask
an expert about it.

2) Every repair scheme I've ever heard of relies on massive computing power
and very limited intelligence. This is totally unrealistic. We should
expect both the computing power and the intelligence of possible repair
technologies to increase steadily over time, and it is not at all clear what
the ultimate limits might be. IOW, we should ask whether a team of
scientists with unlimited time and funding could reconstruct the state of
cell X, not whether we can see how to write a program to do the job.

3) Many people seem to think that there is no point in signing up for
suspension, because they will never actually get frozen. This is simply
nonsense. Most cryonicists do in fact end up being suspended when they die.
So, people shouldn't use this as an excuse for dismissing cryonics - if you
don't think it will work, argue that it won't work. (Mind you, the system
could be a lot better than it is if the money was there, but that is a
different issue).

Billy Brown

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