Re: Singularity-worship

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Tue, 10 Dec 1996 17:31:40 -0800 (PST)

> >You can't know that it's insane without knowing how soon I am likely to need
> >cryopreservation and what alternative investments I can make with my time and
> >money.
> Not so! By being on this list and from your posts (also true for everyone
> here), is is clear that you greatly desire to continue to live to see and
> experience the very exciting and mentally rewarding future that is strongly
> suggested by current developments and trends. Putting some significant amount
> of ones income towards strengthening the "safety net" for ones life, is like
> insuring against the ultimate catastrophy. A possibility whose consequence is
> so important that it is virtually "imcomparable" with most other personal
> desires. IMO, the decision to do all one can to save ones life (short of
> harshly degrading it) is not open to relative weightings of how likely one is
> to need the "safety net".

What mystical nonsense. This reminds me of the "if one life is saved,
it will be worth it" arguments of the statists to justify encroachments
into personal liberty without a proper cost/benefit analysis of the
proposition in question. "Values" exist, and can be compared, just as
distance, time, and mass. Arguments without specific measurement may
have some rhetorical value, but to truly /understand/ and properly apply
knowledge to one's actions, one must do the math. It is useful to speak
of 9.8 m/sec^2 as "the acceleration due to gravity", because the Earth
is so much more massive than the everyday things we drop on it, and the
heights from which we drop them so small, that it makes a convenient
approximation. But we can't land on the Moon if our only idea of the
mass of the Earth is "so big it doesn't matter". We need the numbers.

Since "values" are a product of a volitional consciousness, they are
necessarily personal. I value good food, liberty, communication,
money, and every other aspect of my life in amounts that I measure
by how much I am willing to work for them. If the price of Net
access rises to a certain level, I will drop it; if the price of
better access drops, I will upgrade. Those /quantitative/ comparisons
of values are no less valid for life itself than for any other value.
I happen to value my own life very highly, and I rationally evaluate
the odds of various techniques available to extend it or preserve it.
I consider their cost, and make those personal decisions. As it
happens, I find that certain things like calorie restriction or use
of "smart drugs" are irrational for me, because their cost/benefit
fails under my values (the former because the cost in quality of life
is too high, the latter because the benefit is too low). But I do
spend money on cryopreservation, because the value of a second life
cycle weighed against the hours I must work for it, and the odds I
calculate for its success pass the test. The fact that I may not be
able to put exact numbers on those values does not absolve me from
characterizing them quantitatively and estimating the cost/benefit.

But I do not concede that my values and their consequences must apply
to everyone. There are those for whom calorie restriction is no great
sacrifice, and they should practice it to extend their lives. There
are also those who knowingly, willingly, evaluate the odds of dying
in the next decade, and choose to take that risk for the benefit of
saving the money they might otherwise spend on cryopreservation to
spend later on it or something else. I think that can be a perfectly
rational evaluation.

Anyone who thinks life is "beyond value" is abdicating reason no
less than one who does not value it at all.