Re: Cryonics/Nanotech Skepticism (Was: Schindler's List)

den Otter (
Fri, 14 Aug 1998 02:17:18 +0200

Scott Badger wrote:

> As a member of the minority, I can't say I have a very convincing argument
> because I'm not a nanotechnologist. But it seems to me that (1) a lot of
> people are pretty excited about the potential of nanotech for a variety of
> applications so the field should continue to rapidly develop, (2) the
> argument for cellular repair at the molecular level is a coherent one, and
> (3) hundreds of bodies lying in various forms of biostasis 50 to 100 years
> from now would, I imagine, represent an exciting challenge that many
> nanoscientists will find irresistable. I may be mistaken, but I recall that
> you have used the figure of around 5% as your estimate for the probability
> that cryonics will work. As a proponent, *you* don't seem that confident.
> That's a little disheartening to hear from a cryonicist. Within what time
> frame does your estimate apply? 100 years? 200 years? 500 years? Or do you
> see some other future event (e.g. SI) making the arument moot?

Interesting point. Personally, I think that the Singularity (=SI) is probably the most significant threat to those in suspension. Otherwise, I don't see why sooner or later nanotech wouldn't be sophisticated enough to perform the repairs, and AIs be smart enough to reconstruct the original personality with near-perfect accuracy from even a badly suspended brain (by running a reverse simulation of the damage, retracing every atom and molecule to its original position). Both technologies can draw from and improve upon the designs found in nature, if nothing else. Other issues like keeping the cryonics companies in business, adjustment to future society, costs of revival etc. are (almost) insignificant compared to the Singularity problem.

Nevetheless, this *doesn't* mean one shouldn't get a cryo-contract. Maybe revival will be possible *before* the Singularity, or maybe the technocalypse will turn out to be a benevolent one. In any case, it's better to be safe than sorry, which in this case means freezing the bodies of the deceased. In the worst case you've just bought some peace of mind. So, IMO there's *no* rational argument against cryonics, not even in its crudest form (straight freezing).