RE: Cryonics sources

From: altamira (
Date: Mon Jun 19 2000 - 12:31:12 MDT

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf Of Robin Hanson
> Your attitudes only make sense it you postulate a life of
> infinite value given
> cryonics success.

This is true. However, Robin, attempting to place a present value for
future life via the calculation you used doesn't provide very much useful
information due to the high degree of uncertainty. For example, a small
change in the discount rate assumed can cause a relatively large change in
the present value. The major problem I see, however, is that no one knows
the probability of cryonics success.

The strategy I've found most useful when faced with an unknown like this is
to keep several irons in the fire (for non-Americans--this is a cowboy
expression which means to have several projects going at the same time). In
the case of life extension, in addition to signing up for cryonis, one might
take steps to stay as healthy as possible and to slow down the natural aging
process. I don't think there's any one formula that can be applied to every
person. You have to figure out your own. For me, two very important
factors are keeping certain kinds of stress low and getting enough sleep.
One might also leave non-organic traces of oneself such as writing,
painting, music, technological inventions. And for me, experiencing as much
joy as possible every day of my life ranks high among my priorities. IMO
the present emotional value of a relatively short, but joyful life, is
higher than that of a long but unhappy one.

I have mixed thoughts about cryonics. In a way, it offers a chance to
defeat death, but to the extent our personalities are influenced by our
environments, the person on the front end of the cryonic suspension wouldn't
be the same person as the one who emerged in the new world of the future.
To be unconscious for fifty or a hundred years and then to's
difficult to actually comprehend. There have been times when I've been by
myself in the woods for several weeks and then gone into town and felt quite
alien. I remember once some stranger said "Hi," in passing, and I said,
"Hi," back and thought to myself "How wonderful! I can understand their
language!" as though I were in a foreign country.

For me, these are some of the deepest issues I've ever grappled with: what
is self-consciousness? what is the self? how are people connected to each
other? (this question has to do with leaving cultural things like writing
behind, and the memories of a person which continue on in other peoples'
minds) what's fearful about death? (this is of particular interest to me
since I almost died one time, and the experience wasn't nearly as bad as I'd
feared it would be; in fact towards the end, it was very exciting) DOES
consciousness reside in the brain and other body parts, or is there more to
it than that? (again, this is of particular interest to me since I've had
experiences which lead me to believe that our culture's present
understanding of consciousness is not the final word)

I know these questions have been discussed on this list, and I shall go back
and read the archives and see what enlightenment I find there.


   If you don't estimate a life of infinite
> duration, or if
> your values assign diminishing returns to long life, such as via
> discounting
> the future, then the probability of success matters.
> Let me illustrate with a calculation. A typical value of life-year is
> twice a yearly income. For a yearly income of $50K, this is
> $100K/yr, which
> at a 2.5% discount rate gives you a value of life forever of $4M, and $2M
> for living thirty years more. These are the sorts of ballpark numbers
> health economists use to make sense of observed choices between money and
> risk of death in cars, jobs, etc.

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