CRYO: "Ischemia" vs. "Reversibly dead"

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Mon Apr 23 2001 - 23:05:30 MDT

I have to say that I think <ischemia> is one of the less effective memes
I've run across lately. Cryonics patients are DEAD. Adapting to the
future consists of recognizing that death is not necessarily
irreversible. The euphemisms are not fooling anyone and I think it sounds
darn stupid, like wearing a sign that says "Hi, I'm in denial" or "Hi,
this is a cult". I know that this is exactly the same (false) accusation
made about a great many pieces of new terminology, including, say,
"Singularity" - I just happen to think that "ischemia", out of all the
terms in the transhumanist glossary, happens to actually *be* that lousy.
I would suggest calling them "reversibly dead" patients, which
simultaneously conveys that you have indeed emotionally accepted how much
damage has occurred, while carrying the future shock of the belief that
even *that* much damage is still reversible.

Saying that Alcor has sixty (or whatever) "reversibly dead patients" is,
in itself, a powerful sign that cryonics is not cultish or denial or an
Egyptian mummification sham. Religions insist that mummies et cetera are
not "dead" in order to avoid the emotional fallout of accepting the fact
of death. Saying that Alcor has sixty people in "ischemic coma" or
"temporal transport" sounds like the service Alcor is providing is the
ability for grieving relatives to deny that death has occurred, not
actually saving lives. Again, I think that adequate neural information is
preserved even without the new vitrification protocols, and that a lot of
cryonics patients are quite possibly coming back post-Singularity, but I
still have a tremendously bad impression of most current cryonics

No religion would ever call its mummies "reversibly dead". The term
carries with it a visceral shock that instantly sets cryonics apart from
the known human fallacy of denying death. "Ischemia" and similar terms
are instantly, and correctly, processed as bureaucratese at the least and
religious dogma at the worst. I strongly recommend that you drop
"ischemia" and "temporal transport" in favor of "cryonic suspension" or,
better yet, "reversibly dead".

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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