RE: Some Questions for everyone on the list...

O'Regan, Emlyn (
Tue, 31 Aug 1999 19:58:38 +1000

> I have a couple of questions for the people on this list who plan to be
> frozen:
I might not count, because I'm planning to try to scrape by without resorting to that cold cofort. But what the hey, these questions apply in a general sense to any life-extensionist (except maybe the last question).

> 1. In any way does cryonics provide the same sort of psychological
> comfort that religion provides for some people? Have you just replaced
> heaven with the future?
Of course. But maybe this is misguided - can you replace something which isn't? I think religion's got some good points; heaven as a conceptual specification is a damned fine effort. It's just that the implementation is improbable (I'm off to heaven now; just tell me which way to point the ramship... I can't? I have to do WHAT to get there? You're not joking, are you?).

The question presents replacing heaven with the future as if it were a bad thing, or improbable. The "bad" part, well I can't see who could object. After all, even the most radical immortalists usually concede that they'll probably die eventually - I'd be willing to accept that databases storing age can safely use only two bytes for number of years (alright, three might be safer). But if there is a "real" (in the sense of intangible, not real at all) heaven, we will all end up there (or in associated realms) eventually. In the fullness of time. On our own terms.

Then there's the improbable part. In the realm of cryonics, I can concede that it's not an ironclad certainty. It's probably better than relying on the existence of a non-existent (by definition?) afterlife, however. All those religions, one of 'ems gotta be right, hasn't it? Maybe not.

"That transhumanism stuff, you're trying to play god!" Well, somebody has to.

> 2. Since you plan to live forever, what are your long term goals?
Firstly, I'm going to hang on to life at any cost. Could get a bit undignified (eg: the davros scenario, head on a paralysed body, I can't BELIEVE that this is pretty much possible right now!), but then life is fairly undignified at the best of times. The prospect of inevitable death seems pretty undignified to me.

I expect that things will settle down for the immortal-wannabes eventually. Eventually the decrepit, paralysed bodies will be replaced by working ones (or VR environments, or J-brains, or interstellar vehicles, or nanobrains, or...), eventually the effects of extreme aging will be reversed, eventually we can wake up the cryonauts (I'll make sure there's a hot cup of tea ready for you all). Then (and prior to that as far as possible), I'll attempt to live life as I attempt to now. Push back the envelope! I'm going to do everything, learn everything, make everything, think everything, and when I've done it all, there'll be more that's cropped up in the meantime. I'm going to need a seriously long lifespan for that!

3. How do you look at life differently than somebody who expects to live a
> short life span?
The limitations of mortality really affect what you can achieve, psychologically as well as literally. You realise "I have X years, so of all my interests I've got to choose a little subset to focus on, and the rest get to be hobbies at best, entirely discarded at worst." It's a crappy way to live your life.

I'd like to do a PhD in physics. I'd like to built starships. I'd like to travel amongst the stars. I'd like to build AI. I want to write music like Bach, I want to sing like Bryn Terfel, I want to dance like Barishnikov. I want to do whatever the hell it was that Hofstader did when he wrote Godel, Escher, Bach (that's called genius son). I'd like to be famous throughout (post?)human civilisation. I wouldn't mind being infamous throughout the same. I want to wage war, fight for peace, build civilisations and knock them down and build them up again. And I (and I use "I" in the loosest possible sense) really want to see what's on the other side of the singularity.

I'm not, on the other hand, real interested in working in a safe career for a couple of decades, paying off the house, making a bit on investments, cashing in the superanuation, then slipping slowly from view to end up finally as landfill, just as the world is getting interesting. Call me crazy.

4. Are any of you afraid of your bodies falling into the wrong hands
> after your frozen? It is possible that you might be reanimated as some
> kind
> of lab animal.
Sounds kinky!


PS: Hey, I've got a relatively ridiculous, unrelated idea to relate. Religious & sensitive? Tune out now. Really!

I was thinking about the nature of God, if there be such an infernal contraption. Either God doesn't exist (I'd put my money here), or He does.

If He does, then He either does not affect the universe (being everything tangible), or He does. If He doesn't, then for all practical purposes he does not exist. If He does affect the universe, he's really got to be part of it, doesn't he? Those effects must be tangible (by definition of affect?). So we can (theoretically) measure them, and trace back to the source.

As far as I can tell, everything in the universe seems to be something. Particles, waves, energy, it's all stuff (in a broader sense than mere matter perhaps). Even information seems to need a medium in which to travel, mechanism by which to be transmitted.

It must be pretty weird stuff. Exotic matter? Maybe! I bet God is made of all kinds of really rare and potentially useful raw materials.

So there we are, wondering "where do I find myself an infinitely long rod of neutronium, or the kind of bits and pieces I need for teleportation, or something to build a worm-hole out of, or something to trancend the computational limits of my M-brain"?

Well, given His track record (not so hot Big Guy, sorry to be the one to have to tell you), and the potential usefulness of his component parts, I say we hunt Him down and break Him up for scrap. A hand full of pico-assemblers and a really wierd bucket, and we're in the big league!

Emlyn (why is my body hair standing on end suddenly?)