RE: Why Cryonics

From: Jim Hart (
Date: Mon Feb 28 2000 - 21:27:04 MST

Up front I should say that I'm not arguing against vitrification
in favor of freezing. I'm arguing that even with our current
freezing methods that leave what appear to be unrecoverable
damage it makes emminent sense to sign up for cryonics. If
somebody can come along and make the freezing damage
less destructive I'm all in favor of that.

Thus sprach Eugene Leitl:

> > Freezing is largely nondissipative. No. Disagree strongly here.

It doesn't matter how strongly you disagree; this is basic

>Though not having to bear burden of proof,

You, like myself and all other posters, bear the burden of proof
to the extent you want to convince the list of your point of view.

As a practical matter, argument in favor of change from
a traditional technique (in your case, from freezing to
vitrification) bears more burden of proof.

An argument for changing from a faith-based belief in a soul
to belief in the efficacy of cryonics in general bears
very little burden of scientific proof. The standard of care
in the immortality industry is remarkably low. The cryonics
industry with all its warts already meets a much higher
standard than most immortality consumers demand.

Not at all arguing against scientific study -- after all I
consider myself to be a sophisticated consumer and want the
best science possible for *my* body. But if the issue
is the practical consumer choice of signing up for cryonics
vs. succumbing to the promises of faith-based immortality,
let's put this "burden of proof" thing in perspective.

> > damage Merkle's analysis may be too *pessimistic*: we can often use
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>This is a joke, no?

No. MLE is a very inefficient way to solve the problem if one
instead can solve most of the problem using pattern matching
algorithms. (While according to Merkle's analysis we will have more
than enough CPU cycles to do MLE, this is important if for
other reasons, as you argue, the problem is harder than he states).

>The cryptoanalysis analogy is btw perfectly valid if you attempt to
>reconstruct the real thing by monitoring operation (say, using 10^9
>nanoprobes in vivo), especially if including manipulative measures
>(exciting subsystems and analyzing their activity dynamics).

It would be even more useful if we had pre-deanimation measurements
to test against. SPECT, EKG, and behavior videos may be crude by
future standards, but they provide a substantial amount of
information on target neural dynamics that is currently being

>It's just that a lot of people will die, perhaps all of us here
>present, if we wait for the advent of this technology (if it indeed
>arrives, which is far from being guaranteed). Nor is sustainability of
>patient storage guaranteed.

The probabilities are small, but the expected value is vast.
A finite but still large version of Pascal's wager.

>If you thought that typical cryonics patients look bad, don't even try
>to look at straight freeze. Ugh.

It does not at all matter how they "look" to an eye untrained
in chemistry *and* computational reconstruction techniques.

>Your stainless steel bracelet does not guarantee salvation.

Certainly not. That's where we fall back on faith in the
Omega point. :-)

>Ischaemia is being adequately addressed, also (especially,
>considering the resources) by the mainstream. Brain vitrification is

This is a good point. I'm not arguing against vitrification
in favor of freezing. I'm arguing that it makes very good sense
to sign up even with the bad-looking freezing methods employed
today. It makes good sense to support scientific research
into techniques such as vitrification as well.

Get Your Private, Free Email at

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:04:19 MDT