Re: Who Should Live?

J. R. Molloy (
Wed, 17 Mar 1999 22:50:06 -0800

Scott Badger wrote,
>I think what I find most upsetting about your views on cryonics is that
>unusually callous. Perhaps this is because you keep referring to those who
>are cryonically preserved as being dead. Cryonicists believe that these
>people are still alive. . . very sick, but still alive. Is using CPR or a
>defibrillator a waste of resources because the person is obviously dead?
>Suspension protocols are most appropriately thought of as emergency medical
>procedures designed to save someone's life. Emergency medical procedures,
>in general, have varying probabilities of success. We don't know yet what
>that probability figure is for cryonics but we believe that it is certainly
>greater than zero.

Sorry to upset you, Scott, I'll refer to them as "the cryonically preserved" whenever I think of it. For instance: When the going gets tough, the tough don't ask if the cryonically preserved should live. This follows from the fact that no one knows if the cryonically preserved _can_ live.

>Actually, I started this thread by asking those on the list to select the 5
>people that they most wished would enbrace the idea of cryonics because the
>world could ill-afford to lose their particular gifts. There weren't very
>many responses to _that_ question. The issue of whether cryonic suspendees
>should be revived or not is one that you brought up, I believe.

Right, and I had answered that, "I can think of half a dozen people with a talent or a gift that the world
can ill afford to lose, but they don't embrace the idea of cryonics... ...IOW, the very people who have talents or gifts that the world can ill afford to lose, do not endorse the idea of cryonics. If those people don't endorse cryonics, why should extropians?"

So, now I ask you: Why don't people with a talent or a gift that the world can ill afford to lose (candidates so far include Stephen Hawking, Spider Robinson, Doug Engelbart, Robert M. Pirsig, Neal Stephenson, Douglass Hofstadter, Martin Gardner, Arthur C. Clarke, Steven Jay Gould, and James Randi) embrace the idea of cryonics? Has anyone asked _them_?

>Well, for one thing, reviving a few geniuses and recruiting their talents
>just may speed up the process of building a better human. Besides, as has
>been mentioned, the biotechnology that will lead to reversible suspensions
>is going to progress anyway because there are a large number of medical
>applications besides reviving cryonauts.

Do any of those working on speeding up the process of building a better human embrace the idea of cryonics? How come their names haven't appeared?

>>Neither you nor I, but rather posthumans shall decide
>>ultimately. Physically and finally, we will have to die as humans in order
>>to become posthumans. So, the only thing cryonics can contribute to
>>relates to how it might help to develop transhumans, i.e., how it can
>>displace humans with posthumans.
>What are you saying here? I must die in order to become a posthuman? The
>human race must die to make room for post humans? That's news to me.

IOW, you must die as a child to become an adult, because the adult replaces the child. This leads to the acknowledgment that the adult can understand the child, even though the child may not understand the adult.

Well, I guess you could say that it means "to make room for post humans." Likewise, the catepillar must die to make room for the butterfly. Nothing new there. Sorry you hadn't heard of it before. Biologists call it "metamorphosis" I think. At least they used to. Perhaps not anymore.

>I can understand how I might compare a "posthuman version of me vs. the
>current version of me" to "the current version of me vs. a 1 year-old
>version of me". In a sense, the 1 year-old version had to "die"
to make
>room for the current version of me. I realize that my developmental
>transitions have been pretty smooth so far, and I agree that future
>transitions may be much more quantum-like. Any transition from
one state
>another involves the "death" of the earlier state, but is that the kind of
>death you're referring to?

You got it.

>Uh-oh. The meme, "Death and birth eternally form the two sides of life."
>is a particularly virulent one, and helps explain many of your views. Am I
>alone in considering this meme to be more Yin-Yang, dualistic,
>polarized-thining nonsense? I also don't believe
that cryonicists would
>advocate being frozen in a young and healthy state. It's true that I
>personally resent the fact that the state can prevent me
from arranging a
>cryonic suspension while I'm still alive, though. I would want the option
>of assisted suicide with immediate suspension if I discovered, for example,
>that I had developed Alzheimer's or if I was terminally ill and in a great
>amount of pain. Why waste thousands and thousands of dollars and medical
>resources on palliative care that is only briefly delaying my deanimation
>when I plan on being suspended anyway?

Good question. In addition, if birth and death do not form two sides of life, what does? Would you make life one dimentional and linear? It seems more sensible to me to take life as I find it, instead of trying to make it fit some cryonic belief system. The cells in my body have all died at least once during my lifetime, but the organism continues. Likewise, all living humans may die during the course of the superorganism's lifetime.

>Yes, grabbing the gusto is a good thing. I intend to grab it for a long,
>long time in many different forms.

I'll drink to that.


--J. R.