Alcor vs. Cryonics Institute

by prespectiveCryonaut1 min read9th Apr 2012125 comments

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I searched but did not find any discussion comparing the merits of the two major cryonics providers in the US, so I figured it might be productive to start such a discussion myself by posing the question to the community: which provider would you choose, all things being equal: Alcor or the Cryonics Institute?

From my research, Alcor comes across as the flasher, higher-end option, while CI seems more like a Mom-and-Pop operation, having only two full-time employees. Alcor also costs substantially more, with its neurosuspension option alone running ~$80k, compared with CI's whole-body preservation cost of ~$30k. While Alcor has received far more publicity than CI, much of it has been negative. The Ted Williams fiasco is probably the most prominent example, although the accuser in that case seems anything but trustworthy. However, Alcor remains something of a shadowy organization that many within the cryonics community are suspicious of. Mike Darwin, a former Alcor president, has written at length on both organizations at http://www.chronopause.com, and on the whole, at least based on what I've read, Alcor comes across looking less competent, less trustworthy, and less open than CI.

One issue in particular is funding. Even though Alcor costs much more, it has many more expenses, and Darwin and others have questioned the long term financial stability of the organization. Ralph Merkle, an Alcor board member and elder statesman of cryonics who has made significant contributions to other fields like nanotechnology, a field he practically invented, and encryption, with Merkle's Puzzles, has essentially admitted(1) that Alcor hasn't managed its money very well:

"Some Alcor members have wondered why rich Alcor members have not donated more money to Alcor. The major reason is that rich Alcor members are rich because they know how to manage money, and they know that Alcor traditionally has managed money poorly. Why give any significant amount of money to an organization that has no fiscal discipline? It will just spend it, and put itself right back into the same financial hole it’s already in.

 As a case in point, consider Alcor’s efforts over the year to create an “endowment fund” to stabilize its operating budget. These efforts have always ended with Alcor spending the money on various useful activities. These range from research projects to subsidizing our existing members — raising dues and minimums is a painful thing to do, and the Board is always reluctant to do this even when the financial data is clear. While each such project is individually worthy and has merit, collectively the result has been to thwart the effort to create a lasting endowment and leave Alcor in a financially weak position."


Such an acknowledgement, though appreciated, is frankly disturbing, considering that members depend utterly on these organizations remaining operational and solvent for decades, perhaps even centuries, after they are deanimated.

Meanwhile, CI carries on merrily, well under the radar, seemingly without any drama or intrigue. And Ben Best seems to have very good credentials in the cryonics community, and Eliezer, one of the most prominent public advocates of cryonics, is signed up with them. Yet the tiny size of the operation still fills me with unease concerning its prospects for long-term survivability.

So with all of that said, besides cost, what factors would lead or have led you to pick one organization over the other?

1: http://www.alcor.org/Library/html/CryopreservationFundingAndInflation.html

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“However, Alcor remains something of a shadowy organization that many within the cryonics community are suspicious of.”

Really? That’s a remarkable statement. Alcor has a long history of open communication with its members and the cryonics community in general. Among the ways Alcor does this:

  • Cryonics magazine
  • Alcor News emailings
  • RSS feed
  • conferences
  • case reports
  • extremely detailed website with information on finances, governance… everything
  • Facebook page
  • Member Forums

See: http://www.alcor.org/newatalcor.html

“Mike Darwin, a former Alcor president, has written at length on both organizations at http://www.chronopause.com, and on the whole, at least based on what I've read, Alcor comes across looking less competent, less trustworthy, and less open than CI.”

Darwin is a member of Alcor, not CI. How do you explain that? Darwin thoroughly enjoys criticizing Alcor (rightly or not) but remains a member. In a related comment, ahartnell says “from what I have read both seem to provide basically the same service”.

This is a remarkable belief. Alcor uses the most advanced cryoprotectant, M22, to perfuse whole bodies and neuros. CI uses a less advanced (and cheaper) cryoprotectant but cryopr... (read more)

Darwin has also criticized CI here:

http://chronopause.com/index.php/2011/04/14/cryonicists-teach-your-children-well/

And this situation isn’t hypothetical either, because when the Cemetery Board came down on the Cryonics Institute (CI) , CI, and thus the American Cryonics Society (ACS), decided to surrender control of their patients to the state. Now, it is the laws and jurists of the state of Michigan that determine the conditions under which a patient can be removed from a cryostat at CI, and be relocated elsewhere, not the CEO or the Board of either CI, or ACS. If you want to understand the practical implications of this, you can go to http://www.bhsj.org/forms/disinterment%20and%20reinterment.pdf and to http://law.onecle.com/michigan/333-health/mcl-333-2853.html and read what you find there. It isn’t pretty.

http://chronopause.com/index.php/2011/02/13/on-the-need-for-prosthetic-nocioception-in-cryonics/

I do not want to seem too harsh on Alcor here, because Alcor did have cameras, and does lock its patient dewars. The Cryonics Institute does not even lock their patient dewars – this is an issue I have raised with their management several times over the years, but to no avail

... (read more)

This was pretty disturbing to read. I'm not sure I want CI anymore.

2Nova_Division9yCan anyone here tell me more about Johnson's book "Frozen" mentioned in this comment? I looked it up on Amazon and read Alcor's response to legal issues here: http://www.alcor.org/press/response.html [http://www.alcor.org/press/response.html] but what I want to know is, from LessWrongians who have read it, is it all a crock, or is there some truth in it?

In my role as an Alcor director, I had the painstaking and unpleasant task of investigating the veracity of Johnson's book allegations to determine which of them required legitimate corrective action or litigation for defamation. Some of the allegations published in New York Daily News and wire services in 2009 promoting the book weren't even anywhere in the book (e.g. allegations that Alcor dismembered live animals). Such lies about the book itself were apparently just invented to get international media attention two days before the book's release. Some of the allegations inside the book were so outrageous that no reasonable person knowing anything about cryonics could believe them, such as Alcor kidnapping teenagers and homeless people and burying them in the desert, or engaging in drug trafficking and wild car chases. Other allegations, such as certain cryonics cases being "botched," I knew immediately were false because I had personal knowledge of the cases, or because they were repeats of false allegations Johnson made during his previous reach for fame in 2003.

http://www.alcor.org/Library/html/sportsillustrated.htm

Many other allegations required investigation.... (read more)

coughs er, though I'm sorry that it was said about people about whom it wasn't true, it seems a little unfair on those of us who enjoy deviant sex to include it in such a list.

2enoonsti9yAs I was reading Frozen, I kept thinking: "You know what this book needs? A randomly inserted car chase." Sure enough, OP delivered. Oh, and if I received incompetent death threats, I would have had them checked for fingerprints. But Larry didn't have them checked. Because he probably printed them out himself. tldr; I hope someday you get around to that tome.
-1melmax8yRespected by whom, Dr. Wowk? Other people being funded by LEF, such as yourself? If these two "pillars of the community" are the best you can come up with, Vanguard will mop the floor with Alcor, if their case ever goes to court. Platt has been accused of being dishonest (both privately, and publicly), by an amazing number of individuals, who have had the misfortune of working with him. Harris has committed a number of blunders, such as libeling a medical professional he did not know, (in the interest of protecting a company closely related to Alcor); publishing what appears to be a policy of euthanizing Alcor and/or SA clients who show signs of life during a cryonics procedure; and endorsing laymen having access to propofol. If your two star witnesses can be proven to have publicly lied, in the interest of protecting Alcor and/or Suspended Animation, (both those companies receive funds from LEF, as does Dr. Wowk's 21CM), how will their testimony hold up in court.? The laymen reading this, and other forums, might believe the propaganda Dr. Wowk participates in, but things are likely to go differently, in a court of law. Judging by the published court documents, Vanguard is willing to put up a good fight and, unlike Johnson, they are probably well-funded enough to do so.
0advancedatheist9yCI's threadbare state after all these decades seems especially surprising considering that Robert Ettinger founded it, and apparently he couldn't do any better with it despite his status as one of the the originators of the cryonics movement Nonetheless, Ettinger's cryosuspension made the national news last summer. By contrast, the suspension of Fred Chamberlain by Alcor a few weeks back went unnoticed in the larger world, despite Alcor's somewhat higher name recognition, because Fred never became the public face of cryonics. Yet, as others have pointed out, CI operates as a "cemetery," and the bureaucratic mind doesn't allow for the removal of bodies in cemeteries to subject them to experimental medical procedures. A suspension with CI therefore resembles the selling point of the Roach Motel: You can check into the dewar, but you can never check out.

Yet, as others have pointed out, CI operates as a "cemetery," and the bureaucratic mind doesn't allow for the removal of bodies in cemeteries to subject them to experimental medical procedures

I don't think that really matters: if revivification works, there will be a way around that. The important thing is getting bodies intact to that point. Subjecting them to procedures might be an interesting restriction on CI, except as far as I know, once one is cooled, there are no procedures besides topping up the tanks and every blue moon being switched from tank to tank.

I take Darwin as pointing out that CI has legal vulnerabilities to outside coercion and pressure that Alcor has apparently avoided; I haven't read his links so I don't know what, but lawsuits and activist public officials and overly broad public health laws come to mind.

1advancedatheist9yThat doesn't necessarily have to happen. Peter Thiel in his recent debate with George Gilder argues that most forms of engineering since 1970 have become effectively illegal. Some universities might still offer degrees in nuclear engineering, for example, but that field has horrible job prospects, so it might as well have become illegal. It wouldn't take much to add cryonics to the list of prohibited technologies.
7arundelo9yI found the Thiel-Gilder debate [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRrLyckg8Nc]. Thiel's list [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRrLyckg8Nc#t=42m29.1s] of fields where "innovation in stuff was 'outlawed'" [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRrLyckg8Nc#t=41m56s]: * petroleum engineering * nuclear engineering * electrical engineering * chemical engineering * mechanical engineering * bio-engineering I can believe that changes in the law and the legal-political climate have hampered innovation in at least some of those fields, but by "outlawed" Thiel seems to mean "a bad career choice", judging from what he says at 42:17 [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRrLyckg8Nc#t=42m17.5s]. Edit: Thiel does not just mean "a bad career choice"; he gives some examples of what he does mean at about 9:50 of this July 16 2012 debate with Eric Schmidt [http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/07/17/transcript-schmidt-thiel/]:
6TimS9yThat's not a very accurate way to think about legal problems. For comparison, PhDs in English Literature have horrible job prospects, but that's not evidence that English Lit is becoming illegal.
1advancedatheist9yIf your field of engineering, despite its productive potentials, faces political moves to shut it down and throw you out of work, that has about the same effect as making it illegal.
3CarlShulman9yFacing threats of possibly somewhat lower salaries and job prospects is quantitatively far less severe than being banned. Cutting the expected value of training for a profession by 10% is very different from cutting prospects by 50% or 90%.
0gwern9yIf cryonics is outright prohibited, then the first part of the conditional is very unlikely to obtain...
0mkmk9yRobert Ettinger had a superior cryosuspension because he didn't rely on long distance remote standby from SA or elsewhere. He planned and had his ducks in a row so to speak. Many Alcor and SA contracted patients have rotted for many hours waiting for the very expensive far away teams. Some of these things were due to to matters out of anyone on the remote standby team's control but distance cannot be removed as a factor. Robert had set up his own local standby with family, friends etc and the results speak for them selves. Also the only reason CI ever had to operate under the cemetary statutes is because of negative PR and generated by Alcor with the Ted Williams case. Michigan bureaucrats responded to the negative PR with the current state of affairs. The cloak of cemetery regulation does protect CI to a limited degree in the future from further Alcor PR nightmares because it can be regulated in a way that the Michigan bureacrats can understand. So in the end it worked to CI's benefit. I would hardly blame CI for making lemonaid out of Alcor generated lemons!
7shminux9ySince you are around to answer questions... As I mentioned elsewhere, my biggest concern is the continuous operation of a cryoshop over the potential centuries or even millennia until the revival is attempted, as nearly no entities have ever survived that long. I have been unsuccessful in my search for an Alcor executive explicitly responsible for existential risk analysis and mitigation. By existential risk to the company I mean an event that would result in the company failing to the degree that the stored patients are discarded, even though the outside world merrily hums along, and not an event that wipes out a large chunk of humanity. The FAQ does not seem to answer the obvious hard questions like "what if Morgan Stanley goes under?", "what if the US dollar collapses?", "what other existential risks exist, and what are their probability estimates and error bars?", "what is the estimated lifetime of Alcor until it suffers a complete failure from one of the existential risks to it coming to pass?" etc. By the way, if you think that the answer to the last question is "infinite", I recommend a basic probability and statistics course. In other words, the risk management appears to be at the level no better than that of a regular insurance company, which is completely inadequate for an organization whose long-term survival is the most critical issue. Is this perception wrong?
-8advancedatheist9y
6CharlesR9ymaxmore, since you're here, I have a question: How much life insurance do I need? The cost for whole body is $200,000. So do I need $200,000 or do I need what it costs at time of death? Historical data says the cost doubles every 20 years.

CharlesR: First of all, let me say that I have sufficient funding for whole body, yet I have chosen the neuro option. I find it difficult to fathom why anyone would want to bring along a broken-down old body which is going to have to be replaced anyway. We can store ten neuro patients for the cost of one whole body patient (which means that we are probably underpricing WBs currently). A neuro arrangement with Alcor currently costs $80,000. Although WB prices may have to rise before long, I've heard no suggestion that neuro rates need to rise anytime soon.

However, assuming someone is determined to take along their complete body, no matter how old and infirm, to answer your question: You CURRENTLY need a MINIMUM of $200,000. At that rate, we are currently drawing between 3% and 4% of the amount going into the Patient Care Trust for indefinite care and eventual revival. That may be sustainable, but is more than our desired conservative estimates. We aim to draw no more than 2% per year. Currently, I'm driving to reduce our costs, especially for liquid nitrogen. Early next year, we should be able to revise our contract and bring these down significantly.

Even so, you should plan to ha... (read more)

4bogdanb9yEven assuming that making a new body is better than fixing the broken one (quite likely especially if ems are included in “new body”), how would its nerves (or equivalent) be connected to the repaired brain without a template of where each of the old nerves went? I was under the impression that the neural system, like the circulatory system, is “the same” between individuals only on the large scale, and individual fibers grow more or less randomly, like arterioles, the brain learning the positions of everything during growth. I can well imagine almost-AGI level machines able to deduce most or maybe all of these based only on watching the effects of gentle prods to the inputs on unconscious brains, but with only human-level intelligence, even with em technology and fantastic (but not AI) computers I can’t quite see how you could do it without participation from the patient, and thus subjecting them to what I imagine might be described as “hellish maelstrom of the senses” for a quite long time. (I don’t expect definite answers, of course—like the rest of cryonics, if we knew all the details we’d be doing it right now. I just wonder if this was discussed somewhere, and perhaps there’s something I’m not aware of which makes it simple in principle given some plausible anticipated advances. Do we even know if it’s possible, looking at just a single random axon, cut at the neck, to tell whether it connected to a nociceptor or a proprioceptor, even knowing exactly where it goes and everything there is in the brain? I mean, other than prodding it and asking the patient what they felt.)
4Merkle9yYou might want to read Cryonics, cryptography, and maximum likelihood estimation [http://www.merkle.com/cryo/cryptoCryo.html]. Short summary: if cryptanalytic methods can recover the wiring of World War II rotor machines knowing only some input-output pairs and with only limited information about the actual wiring, then similar algorithms should be able to recover the neuronal "wiring" between different cortical areas when we already have a wealth of information about that wiring plus a good knowledge of acceptable input-output pairs.
3TheOtherDave9yWell, the brain will have to be replaced as well. If we assume everyone who signs up for cryonics is solely motivated by the intent to maximize the expected value of their continued information-theoretical identity after their cells die, we might infer that those people suspect that some of that information-theoretical identity resides somewhere other than their brain... in their adrenal glands, perhaps, or in their fat cells, or who knows. That said, I am skeptical about both the premise and the conclusion.
4David_Gerard9yThe spare brain in the gut [http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=gut-second-brain]? About a thousandth the size of the one in the head, but rather influential.
0TheOtherDave9yJust to be clear, what I'm skeptical about is the idea that cryonics adopters are in fact generally seeking to maximize the expected value of their continued information-theoretical identity after their cells die. I certainly agree that there's stuff outside my brain that contributes significantly to the construct I'll label "TheOtherDave" for convenience, including but not limited to the enteric nervous system. (Indeed, much of that stuff is outside my body as well.) Not that this makes me a skeptic about post-mortem person reconstruction, particularly. I'm perfectly prepared to believe that something could be extracted from my properly-preserved body that would be similar enough to me for it deserve the label "TheOtherDave" about as well as I do. Ditto for my properly-preserved brain; in that I'm not at all confident that the extracranial stuff is necessary when it comes to distinguishing plausible "TheOtherDave" candidates from implausible ones. To be honest, though, I'm not convinced that my brain is necessary either. Constructing a plausible "TheOtherDave" candidate from information outside my body (e.g, my writings and relationships and demographics and so forth) probably isn't that much harder than doing so from information inside my body; given a system capable of doing the latter, it's likely less than a few centuries of progress until we have a system capable of doing the former. (Actually, I'm not entirely convinced that former is harder than the latter at all.)
1James_Miller9yThat's why I've gone whole body with Alcor.

Yes, unquestionably some of the "information" that constitutes your person hood is in your gut, your glands, your immune system and your peripheral nervous system. However, your position would seem to imply that these things, and things much more central to your identity, such as your brain structure, are like unchanging books or artifacts on a museum shelf. They aren't. In fact, by the time you are 80, you will have lost roughly a third of your brain mass and your brain will be a tattered "remnant" of what it once was. You're now losing roughly 80K neurons a day. The practical consequences of this will be a massive transformation of your personality and of your functional capabilities. If that change were to be imposed on you all at once, you would not only be horrified, you likely wouldn't even recognize the resulting individual as the same person. More likely, you'd consider that individual to be a cruel and sadistic parody of yourself.

The point is that your "identity" is a dynamic thing which is badly degraded over time by aging. This is important information to keep in mind, because it provides context for what I'm going to say now. I have known ... (read more)

3James_Miller9yThanks for the very thoughtful reply. I hadn't properly considered the "ball and chain" risks of whole body you mentioned. Is there much of a chance that technology will develop in a way so that I will be revived sooner if I go with whole body rather than neuro?
3benbest9yIt is odd that Max would criticize CI for only perfusing the head in light of the fact that the great majority of Alcor patients are neuros (head-only). The head and the brain are the most important part. CI will perfuse the body with glycerol for CI Members who request it, but CI does not do this unless requested. Look at CI's Perfusion Preference document, which all CI Members have the option of completing when making cryopreservation arrangements: http://cryonics.org/documents/Perfusion_Preference.html [http://cryonics.org/documents/Perfusion_Preference.html] . When the majority of Alcor Members opt for neuro, why rag on CI about the fact that the majority of CI Members opt for no body perfusion (or opt by default)? In any case, vitrification of the body is not possible either at Alcor or CI at present. CI's vitrification solution can eliminate brain ice formation and even demonstrably results in hippocampal slice viability when cooled to -130Celsius and rewarmed, and is vastly less expensive than M22. I doubt that the extra expense of M22 is worth the difference. I do believe that it is important to make cryonics affordable, and I am pleased to be offering a lower cost alternative. Standby/Stabliization/Transport (SST) from Suspended Animation is an optional extra for CI Members, but SST is mandatory for Alcor Members. Only about a quarter of CI Members with cryopreservation arrangements have chosen to have SST from SA (I have chosen that option). I am proud that the comparisons page at CI does not involve a lot of breast-beating, but only contains objective information http://cryonics.org/comparisons.html [http://cryonics.org/comparisons.html] .
1[anonymous]9yI also meant to note that I am not sure how much the extra expense of M22 is worth in light of the fact that currently there is considerable cracking damage for patients being stored in liquid nitrogen.
0maxmore9yBen: I wasn't actually criticizing CI for not perfusing the body other than the brain, I was simply pointing it out. CI members in general seem very insistent on the importance of cryopreserving their entire body. Given THAT, it seems important to note that their body will not be cryoprotected. However, thanks for pointing out that CI will do so if requested. How often is that request made? Why do you say that vitrification of the body is not possible "either at Alcor or CI"? It is done at Alcor for whole body members.
3prespectiveCryonaut9yThanks for your reply, Max. It does seem that Darwin is a bit harder on Alcor, but perhaps some of that is just because it's closer and more personal to him from having worked there and being signed up with them.
7maxmore9yYes, exactly! Darwin says very little about CI. He's enormously critical of Alcor. Why? The answer is complicated, but part of it clearly is that he was a major force in Alcor in earlier years and has perfectionist standards that ignore costs and other real constraints. He may also be envious that he isn't running things. Alas, his past relationships make that inevitable. Despite his impulse to stick in the knife, I keep a close eye on his detailed blog posts, since he does have a remarkable depth of knowledge. That depth and his most excellent writing skills often fool people into believing that his judgment is better than it is. But, flawed as it is, his writing contains much of value, so I set my feelings aside and glean as much value as I can from his views. If Darwin were to turn his attention to CI, the result would be truly ugly! Please note, that I'm GLAD that CI exists. I respect Ben Best. I think he's doing the best he can with what I think is a badly flawed approach. Although I worry about CI's future, anyone who wants to be cryopreserved but genuinely cannot afford Alcor (about the cost of a venti coffee at Starbucks daily) should definitely look to CI and an alternative. --Max

There's no mystery about why I have comparatively few criticisms posted about CI. My reasons for this are as follows:

1) Ci is what it is. What you see is pretty much what you get, and that this is so is evident from the discussion here. The perception of CI as a "mom and pop" outfit is but one example I could cite from this discussion. Ci does not project itself as using a medically-based model of cryonics. It's case histories are ghastly - and anyone who doesn't take the time to read them, or who can't see what the deficiencies are, well, you can't (as I've learned the hard way) fix clueless.

2) I am not a CI member. The reason I am not a CI member can be divined from my written criticisms and by looking over point #1, above. If I were a Ci member, I have no doubt that I would have posted reams of criticisms. Note that I said "posted," because, in fact, I have written reams of criticisms, suggestions, detailed technical advice and countless letters and personal communications on specific deficiencies at CI. I have also generated Power Point presentations and written many pages of material on how CI could improve its capabilities. To their credit, CI has at least... (read more)

The major problems at Alcor are truly abysmal management, for which the Alcor Board of Directors is to blame, and lack of a professional culture and staff to administer the front end of cryopreservation. The situation is almost identical to one that would exist if the board of directors of a hospital tried to deliver medical services without physicians and nurses, but rather hired "the best they could find" to do these professionals' jobs. Thus, there might be a veterinarian doing cardiac and neurosurgery, a chemist operating the heart lung machine, and so on. The absence of credentials, per se, is not the core issue here, because it is perfectly possible for such individuals to do these tasks and to do them "reasonably" well.

Because cryonics did not become a mainstream medical, industrial, or business activity, it necessarily is in the realm of very small "visionary enterprises," like the early days of flight or radio, or perhaps in the realm of the dedicated (professional) amateurs. A good example of the latter is amateur astronomy, where the people involved are fantastic - mostly level headed, focused, responsible and astonishingly capable. Amateur... (read more)

Mike, let's be fair about this. Veterinary surgeons for thoracic surgery (after loss of Jerry Leaf) and chemists for running perfusion machines were also used during your tenure managing biomedical affairs at Alcor two decades ago. You trained and utilized lay people to do all kinds procedures that would ordinarily be done by medical or paramedical professionals, including establishing airways, mechanical circulation, and I.V. administration of fluids and medications. Manuals provided to lay students even included directions for doing femoral cutdown surgery.

http://www.alcor.org/Library/html/1990manual.html

The good cases that you were able to do with lay help (and being only a dialysis technician by credential yourself) are the stuff of cryonics legend. That was how cryonics was done back then. With the resources that were available then, and the need to provide cryonics response over vast geographic areas, using trained lay cryonicists was the most effective way to deliver cryonics care for many years. Some history of this is discussed here

http://www.alcor.org/Library/html/professionals.html

In the 2000s Alcor began to supplement trained lay cryonicist teams by deploying a s... (read more)

6mikedarwin9yBrian, when you say: "Mike, let's be fair about this. Veterinary surgeons for thoracic surgery (after loss of Jerry Leaf) and chemists for running perfusion machines were also used during your tenure managing biomedical affairs at Alcor two decades ago. You trained and utilized lay people to do all kinds procedures that would ordinarily be done by medical or paramedical professionals, including establishing airways, mechanical circulation, and I.V. administration of fluids and medications. Manuals provided to lay students even included directions for doing femoral cutdown surgery," you are either not reading what I wrote or are not being fair yourself. I not only acknowledge that this was so, I go so far as to say it is completely acceptable with the caveat that such people are instructed, vetted and mentored properly. I'll go even further (as I have repeatedly, elsewhere) and state that the most highly qualified medical personnel can be dangerous, or even worse than useless unless they have been trained and mentored in human cryopreservation as a specialty. There's nothing remarkable about this; no reasonable person would want a psychiatrist or a dermatologist doing bowel or brain surgery. Some of the same people who performed very well in the past, and who are not medically qualified, are still at Alcor. The individual people, per se (in this instance), are not the problem. Rather, it's the absence of the paradigm of cryonics as a professional medical undertaking that's missing. The evidence for that is present in Alcor's own case histories where highly qualified medical personnel do things like discontinue cardiopulmonary support on still warm patients in order to open their chests for cannulation ( http://alcor.org/Library/pdfs/casereportA2435.pdf [http://alcor.org/Library/pdfs/casereportA2435.pdf]) or drill burr holes without irrigating the drilling site with chilled fluid to prevent regional heating of the brain under the burr. We are in complete agreement o
5bgwowk9yYour points are mostly well-taken, Mike. Not everything is better than it used to be. While the basic cryopreservation technology (vitrification) is better, and some important aspects of service delivery are better, Alcor does not have in-house expertise comparable to the era of you and Jerry Leaf. With the benefit of hindsight, I would say that people of such caliber willing to devote their life to cryonics are a historical anomaly not amenable to formulaic replication. With respect to communications, the two new potential O.R. surgeons I spoke of were not a public announcement being withheld because Alcor is opaque and untrustworthy. Contact was made with them only within the past few weeks, as discussed at a recent public board meeting. I mentioned them only because your message seemed to imply that Alcor was content with the status quo. I confess that you have a knack for twisting the knife of public criticism in ways that prompt me to "announce" things that aren't ripe for announcement, and that lead to more questions and criticism. When will I learn? :)
2maxmore9y"I follow Alcor's announcements, read its magazine and track its public blog, as I necessarily must, so I am surprised to learn that "In Alcor's O.R., Alcor is presently evaluating and training two board certified general surgeons to supplement the veterinary surgeon and neurosurgeon who have been used by Alcor for the past 15 years." This is the kind of information that I would expect to see showcased in the organization's literature and on its website, not disclosed here. This is the kind of thing that happens over and over and which degrades member confidence in the transparency of the organization. " In fact, I did mention the new surgeons, briefly, in an Alcor News post on April 2:http://www.alcor.org/blog/?p=2518 [http://www.alcor.org/blog/?p=2518]And similarly in the issue of Cryonics magazine now in production. Since we are just starting to work with these surgeons, it didn't yet seem appropriate to report much more. We are continually reporting on just about everything. Your attempt to cast Alcor as non-transparent should be obviously false to anyone who looks at what we communicate.
1grendelkhan7yI think I'm missing something here. As I understand it, you (Mike Darwin) have a great deal of experience and expertise in the actual practice of cryonics, as well as a lot of actionable recommendations. The current staff at Alcor (e.g., Max More) seem to take you seriously. Is it a silly question to ask why you're not working for Alcor?
0[anonymous]6yDig into Mike Darwin a little more. He was president of Alcor from 1983 to 1988.
3curiousepic9yCould you briefly explain or point to anything about info how CI's approach is flawed? EDIT: This comment helped: http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/bk6/alcor_vs_cryonics_institute/6a2c [http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/bk6/alcor_vs_cryonics_institute/6a2c]
5mikedarwin9yNo, and that's the trouble! Because, you see, if cryonics were like any other medical procedure, I'd simply point to the STATISTICS and to the MAIMED and DEAD patients. In fact, the errors and screw ups would be a huge public scandal, because people would have SUFFERED and DIED. Indeed, the patients themselves (who were not killed outright) would be hollering to high heaven via every available media outlet. Cryonics patients never complain because they can't. Because no cryonics patient suffers, or dies, or experiences any other OUTCOME of any kind, your only choice, if you want to understand differences in procedures, quality of care, and so on, is to delve into the complex, technical specifics. You don't have to learn the details of automotive engineering, metallurgy, and so on, to go pick out a good automobile. All of that huge body of technical and scientific knowledge is effectively INVISIBLE to you as a consumer (as well it should be) because you can look at PERFORMANCE as your guide to making a good buy. All that science and engineering gets reduced to miles per liter, road reliability and, of course, your comfort, convenience and safety while driving it! So "close" are the performance specs between automobiles that a significant part of what makes therm sell and out-compete each other is styling - just how the damn thing looks! Think about that.
0cath9yPerhaps Alcor should do the perfusions and freezing and CI chug away at the storage which needs safety and stability. About Mike's or anyone's judgment for that matter, it is a commonplace that no one person has good judgment in all areas. Alcor's judgment in selection of personnel may be comparatively poor, but on the other hand I note few comments of a scientific or technical nature on his technical arguments, and as my own knowledge is rusty, I crave input from someone other than Mike of an exact nature, and not the dismissive "often fool people into believing that his judgment is better than it is" type of comment. I'm not fooled by any of this, but sorely lacking in the means to exercise my own intellect on the critical area of perfusion technology and I am becoming concerned that Mike's technical postings are ignored in substance and detail because of a general lack of technical and scientific know-how in both organizations. At some point in the future if research on reanimation continues to be at or near zero BOTH organizations will be storing people whose information loss is approaching an upper asymptote of 100% regardless of the technology used to get them into the capsules in the first place.
-2mikedarwin9yThis post from Max More is the kind of post that I would expect to see voted off of LessWrong. I have not had a substantive conversation with Max More about cryonics, let alone my personal position, psychology, desires or motivations in over 20 years. We did correspond recently, and I have asked Max for permission to make that complete correspondence, minus personal incidentals not material to cryonics, public. He has flatly refused. Why, I do not know, but I do know that that is the only substantive communication he and I have had in decades and that it is completely documented in writing. Prior to that, at least to my knowledge, our relationship was cordial and not marred by any disagreements or conflicts. Nor do we have any confidants or intimates in common. Thus, the question arises, how would Max know anything about whether I am "envious that I'm not running things"? As he says, he doesn't know this, he can only speculate because he has refused to speak with me on these matters. He then goes on to say something that I find remarkable to be left unchallenged here on LessWrong: "That depth (of knowledge) and his most excellent writing skills often fool people into believing that his judgment is better than it is" LessWrong, as I understand it, is a forum where people are mastering the craft and science of evaluating the logic and substance of the arguments put forth by people, including thinkers and writers here and elsewhere - not based on their style, cleverness of articulation, or their speculations. If anyone has questions about the assertions I make, feel free to ask for the evidence. We may not always agree on how to weight it, but the evidence will (hopefully) always be there, and it will be credible. Where I overstep or make a mistake, you will find me quick to acknowledge and apologize.

http://chronopause.com/index.php/2011/08/09/fucked/ and sequels have cost you more than one LWer's opinion of your judgment because it matched exactly the sort of doomsaying which has cost contrarians literally billions of dollars over the past 4 years in bad bets against the dollar and US stocks (eg. Peter Thiel's Clarium fund alone, or Dr. Doom for that matter). It's not a surprise if they acknowledge your facts but question your judgment, which is the same sentiment Max is expressing.

2mikedarwin9yMy comments about economic, social and political matters don't speak to how people should invest in the market, or to who will win the coming election. They speak to the general condition of the economy and the culture over the long haul. As I've observed in print before, plenty of people will get rich, and millions of people have gotten richer, despite the fact that diversion of wealth from the people who primarily produce it is at an all time high. I am the first to acknowledge that it has been fantastic advances in productivity that have made this possible. But that doesn't make the reality go away that the system is increasingly thwarting innovation, overspending its resource base, and appropriating vast amounts of wealth which is used inefficiently, is wasted, or is actually used for contra-productive purposes. All I have said, in addition to these fairly mundane observations, is that, sooner or later, something's got to give. To some extent this has already happened in that many trillions of dollars of wealth have disappeared, or been reallocated to cover "bad actions" of various kinds. The situation in Europe is actually much worse than it is here, and if it becomes impossible to maintain solvency of large EU nations such Greece, Italy and Spain, then the effect will, again, be felt in the US and elsewhere. What I have no way of knowing is how much "re-assignable" wealth is present in the system - and just as importantly, if it will be reassigned to cover "bad acts." That' difficult to assess wealth covers a huge range of goods and actions, from the quality of food people eat, to whether they use paper towels or go back to using rags! I've never claimed any special insight in those matters, and for good reason; because the data to make those kinds of "forecasts" simply isn't available. So, my position is very much like that of someone who warns that "crime doesn't pay." It doesn't - not in the long run, because it is destructive of productivity, and des
5gwern9y--Isaac Deutscher
1elityre1yI did not know this. Thanks.
0mkmk9yI was at CI's AGM when Aschwin and Chana during their talk took the time to trash talk CI at its own conference and I was upset despite maxes assertion otherwise. Fortunately for the de wolfs, the audio at the meeting was substandard and for those of us who heard it there was no chance to challenge these absurd statements. No where was there any attempt to quantify or verify alleged damage. To the best of my knowledge the de wolf's have not been allowed to autopsy and remove brain tissue from CI or Alcor patients to do a scientific comparison. There was also no other attempt to separate out unrelated factors. Which CI patients were they specifically referring too? Were they referring to incomplete case reports cherry picked from both organizations for a comparison? Surely both organizations have had cryosuspensions in which factors outside their control was at play. IE patient not found dead for several hours or days. Are we comparing apples to apples here? This was is far from a scientific comparison and Max and the de wolfs as scientists should be ashamed of making such smoke and mirror un substantiated assertions. The fact remains there is no way aside from defrosting our patients to compare procedures and even then if we are to make a fair comparison then we need to look at optimal cases from both organizations and subtract out factors such as the over priced false sense of security and misrepresentation that is in long distance remote standby. The truth is simple. Speed and early cooling with vitrification supplemented by good planning is worth 100 times a delayed remote standby even if its members paid $500,000 for the process. Lets be honest to potential members. Just because someone here on Lesswrong says CI or Alcor has had better cryosuspensions does not mean it is true to be repeated over and over. I demand unbiased controlled evidence otherwise these allegations are a cheap shot nothing more.
2benbest9yLast October Aschwin de Wolf replied to misinterpretations of his presentation at the 2011 CI AGM with the following statement which he authorized me to reproduce at that time, and which I will reproduce again here. -- Ben Best ** Aschwin's comments below * It has come to our attention that our recent presentation has caused some controversy on the CI members mailing list. As far as we can tell, a lot of the criticism is aimed at how other people (including Alcor Officials) have interpreted our presentation. In our presentation there is no comparison between Alcor and CI at all. As a matter of fact, we deliberately avoided framing the issue like this. Our presentation just summarized the practical implications of our research for cryonics. One of the most robust findings in our studies, and scientific papers of others researchers going back to the 1960s, is that cerebral ischemia produces perfusion impairment in the brain in a time- and temperature dependent manner. In cryonics such perfusion impairment translates itself into ice formation. The real difference is not between Alcor and CI but between people who do not receive rapid stabilization and cooling and those who do. In ourpresentation we outlined a number of things CI members can do to reduce warm and cold ischemia, including relocation and ensuring that there will be rapid cooling after pronouncement of legal death. We did not use the phrase "2/3 of CI members" in our slides but we did point out that the majority of CI members experience prolonged periods of warm and cold ischemia - this can be easily verified by checking the case reports on the CI website. Such ischemic delays produce perfusion impairment and ice formation. Most CI members can do something about the probability of this happening to them, so this can hardly be construed as an endorsement of Alcor. As a matter of fact, speaking for myself, I prefer a model where a cryonics organization leaves more flexibility to its members as to whether

General advice: if you can afford it, sign up with Alcor. If you can't, sign up with CI.

If you want more information, I'd recommend the Alcor FAQs.

I should provide some context for my comments on Alcor's previous track record on creating endowments: we had just received a $7M bequest, had placed $3.5M into the Patient Care Trust Fund, and the Board had decided to put the other $3.5M into an Endowment and withdraw only 2% per annum, or about $70,000 per year, for Alcor's operational needs. Some members were feeling quite euphoric and were proposing that we spend some significant amount of the principal on various worthy projects, including reduced dues for said members and increased spending on certain pet projects. It seemed advisable to inject a note of sobriety into the discussion and to somewhat deflate the expanding expectations. While helpful, this bequest did not free us from the constraints of fiscal responsibility, and explaining why the Board was being so parsimonious with this windfall seemed appropriate at the time.

Given this context, I wouldn't interpret these comments as "disturbing".

(For anyone reading this, some context: Merkle is on Alcor's Board of Directors)

[-][anonymous]9y 16

the Board had decided to put the other $3.5M into an Endowment and withdraw only 2% per annum, or about $70,000 per year, for Alcor's operational needs.

Have they stuck to this plan, or has the piggy bank been smashed open?

Alcor has stuck to this plan. The board takes it very seriously. Not only have we not taken out more than 2% per year, the board have frequently pushed to add more to the Endowment Fund even where it could legitimately be put into operations.

8wedrifid9yBy 'pushed to add' do you mean took actions that actually resulted in adding or that they made a noble effort?
3maxmore9yI mean that when we received some income that was not definitely specified for a particular purpose, when I suggested that some of it go to operations, the board unanimously insisted it all go into the Endowment Fund.
1[anonymous]9yThank you - this significantly raises my opinion of Alcor.
[-][anonymous]9y 10

So with all of that said, besides cost, what factors would lead or have led you to pick one organization over the other?

The cost difference isn't just large in terms of the actual cryopreservation fee. Alcor charges member $800 per year, while CI charges $120. That made the difference for me; I'm currently filling out the paperwork for CI.

Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil (I've heard), and Robin Hanson are Alcor members.

2[anonymous]9yWhy is this relevant? Presumably they have access to more or less the same information that we do.
9Nisan9yPeter Thiel might be motivated to exert optimization pressure in the direction of keeping Alcor alive.
9James_Miller9yAnd it's always nice to align your very-long-term interests with those of a brilliant billionaire.
8James_Miller9yBut they might be better at processing information than some of us.
1[anonymous]9yThere are no experts in the field of evaluating cryonics corporations, because there are, as of yet, no successful cryonics corporations.
9Paul Crowley9yPeople can vary in how much time, effort, knowledge and intelligence they put into the assessment.
5Jayson_Virissimo9yActually, I updated slightly towards Alcor being the best choice for cryonics because of this information, since all 3 are likely more intelligent, rational, and informed than I am.
0[anonymous]9ySurely there are three famous people signed up with CI. Eliezer's one, I suppose. This evidence isn't evidence.
8Jayson_Virissimo9yIf Yudkowsky is signed up with C. I., then that is slight evidence that C. I. is superior to Alcor. This is so not because he is famous, but because he is more intelligent, rational, and informed than I am. Of course, if I actually studied cryonics in-depth, then my new knowledge would screen-off most of the evidential weight of the opinions of these "famous" people.

Consider that it might actually be evidence for a different conclusion: Eliezer signed up for cryonics some years ago, when he had little income, bravely foregoing well-paid employment in favor of pursuing his core goals. (I can relate to that!) I would very much like to talk to E.Y. about whether it's time to reconsider his past decision based on current information and current finances. I'm just an email or a phone call away, Eli...

Consider that it might actually be evidence for a different conclusion

I'd express it this way: by conservation of evidence, Eliezer signing up for CI is evidence for CI and against Alcor. Within the set of reasons/scenarios which lead to him signing up for CI, the observation about when Eliezer signed up is evidence for the 'economizing' explanation in which his signing up is not evidence for CI over Alcor.

(This may sound contradictory, but the important thing is that A as a set can be shrinking in total probability even as individual members of A become more likely.

An example of this would be the hope function: if you're searching drawers one at a time for a letter, each time you search a drawer, you expect more strongly that the next drawer will hold the letter, even as you also expect more strongly that the letter is not in your desk at all.)

5mikedarwin9yUmm, here's a suggestion: WHY DON"T YOU JUST ASK ELIZER HOW AND WHY HE MADE THE DECISION? Why speculate?
6gwern9yBecause it was an excuse to bring in the hope function by way of correcting Max's statistical reasoning, something I find really cool given how simple & obscure it is.
3enoonsti9yThis is precisely why I both love and hate Less Wrong.
4[anonymous]9ySomeone did ask EY whether the fact that he signed up with CI whereas Hanson signed up with Alcor meant he disagreed with him about something important about the two institutes, and IIRC he answered it was just that Hanson was richer and older than him so of course he'd chosen the higher-end option. (I cannot find that comment, since even a search for Eliezer CI Hanson Alcor in the internal LW search engine turns up umpteen pages.)
3Eliezer Yudkowsky9yIndeed, I'm young and not yet rich. If I was rich, though, given my prior state of knowledge I would've gone with SA + CI on the belief that CI seemed more long-run stable - CI seems more risk-averse and more financially prudent. I've updated somewhat on the financial prudence of Alcor as a result of reading these threads, and if the decision suddenly mattered for some reason, I would now require more investigation to figure out whether SA + CI or Alcor was the better long-run bet.
2maxmore9yDepends what you mean by risk-averse. Alcor has an unquestionable history of fighting for its members' wishes, rather than giving up on them at the mere hint of a legal battle. The only way in which CI could be said to be more financially prudent (but in a way with its own costs) is in its remarkable ability to hold down operating costs. I'm working hard on reducing our costs without undesirable penalties in terms of capabilities. I think we are also now at a point where further membership growth will yield significant economies of scale. But take a look at both organizations' financial statements. You will see that CI expects to maintain patients indefinitely -- and revive them -- on a small amount of per-patient funding. That takes some heroic and highly risky assumptions to accept. Alcor has carefully structured institutions and policies to manage sustainably for the long-term, including strict limits on what can be charged to the patient care trust fund, a 2% draw on the Endowment Fund, and an investment policy that has been giving us gains (while CI has been losing on its investments). If you continue to delve into the gory details, I think you may continue to update your views further.
1Jayson_Virissimo9yYes, many (almost all) events are evidence for more than one hypothesis.

As far as I can tell, Eliezer picked C.I. to minimize the cost of signaling his views about cryonics, not because he thought it was better than Alcor. See this comment.

See the comment below: My primary reason for signing up for cryonics was because I got sick of the awkwardness, in important conversations, of trying to explain why cryonics was a good idea but I wasn't signed up for cryonics.

5mikedarwin9yThe first question you need to ask Yudkowsky (and yourself) is a damned difficult one to answer "simply," and that is what are the currently well known, well understood, and well documented BIOLOGICAL differences in outcome that are likely to pertain using the two different approaches in the reasonably optimum case. Reasonably optimum means that the member is experiencing medico-legal death under controlled conditions with competent cryonics organization personnel in attendance, My bet is that only a few people on the planet can answer that question, and that Yudkowsky isn't one of them. Of course, if you do not believe the degree of molecular, histological or gross damage to the patient matters, within broad limits, then such differences are immaterial. For instance, if you think that several hours of warm ischemic injury, followed by 12 to 24 hours of cold ischemic injury, followed by reperfusion injury, followed by grossly inadequate cryoprotective perfusion/equilibration in the brain resulting in large areas of massively ice injured brain tissue will be easily repairable with Nanotechnology, then you will be largely insensitive to the differences between Ci and Alcor, or a well done cryoprotective perfusion and a poorly done one. My question for such people is, "Why bother with perfusion at all? The ischemic delays are very damaging. Why not just have yourself packed in dry ice as soon as you are pronounced and get shipped off to CI? It would be about $10K to $15 cheaper and you'd only be faced with Nano-repair of cryoinjury?" No need for Nano, Nano, one Nano will do. I'm in the final stages of preparing Part 3 of THE EFFECTS OF CRYOPRESERVATION ON THE CAT for publication on Chronosophere. Part 3 is the transmission electron microscopy of the tissues under different conditions of cryopreservation (Part 2 was the histology: http://chronopause.com/index.php/2012/02/14/the-effects-of-cryopreservation-on-the-cat-part-2/ [http://chronopause.com/index.php/2012/0
6Eliezer Yudkowsky9yI realize I'm probably going to lose some points with you by stating this. But assuming the limit of perfect technology and the absolute correctness of the pattern theory of identity - if you can't accept these hypotheses, please just say so, instead of answering based on a different hypothesis - is there any definitive rejection of my admittedly naive notion that if you can literally read out every single atomic position, then "Chop off the head with a guillotine and drop it into a bucket of liquid nitrogen" should, yes, just work? I admit that my actual belief and assumption is that current cryonics efforts are massive overkill by people who don't realize that liquid nitrogen is not a secure encryption method for brains.

liquid nitrogen is not a secure encryption method for brains.

It doesn't have to be a secure encryption method to be a lossy compression method.

4MixedNuts9yCan you refine what you mean by "the limit of perfect technology"? If you expect atomic tweezers, you're probably right. If you expect superpowered but still annoying analogues of current methods for manipulating individual atoms, you're probably wrong. Nanotech is surprisingly hard - it looks less like surgery with a knife you made with a rock and more like using the rock to pound on the knife's handle during surgery. (But I'm an amateur.)
3JulianMorrison9yYou lose whatever information is no longer in the atoms, which might be a lot because the skull is not designed to assist cooling, and the brain is a considerable thermal mass. It's going to cool slowly, be shredded to mush by crystal formation, and be warped and cracked by thermal stress, while undergoing runaway chemical reactions and cell death. Your "limit of perfect technology" is then faced with an awe inspiring task of running the reaction products backwards, modelling and reversing the thermal damage, un-killing the cells, and splicing the cracks, in 3D on tissue that does not come with alignment hints, and then inferring a mind. There's going to be some level of physically unavoidable data loss even in the perfect case, the data is entailed in thermal noise and random photons and the damage is no longer reversible without reversing the universe. Presumably the perfect technology will paper over these cracks by copying in mind structures from Mr Perfectly Average. But the end result would be that you're less you.
1Mitchell_Porter9yI am a cryoskeptic because I don't believe the pattern theory of identity, but in any case, it seems that this is a rather important issue for people who do, and who are seeking cryonic suspenstion. This thread (and Mike Darwin's blog) are full of detailed histories and analysis about numerous aspects of cryonics. But I don't see an analysis anywhere of how the organizations rate, when evaluated specifically from the perspective that atomic-scale mapping and reconstruction/simulation of the suspended brain will become possible, and that this is enough for personal survival. If we assume this to be true, and if we put aside considerations about the relative ability of cryonics organizations to keep their patients frozen - just focusing on the specific suspension procedures that they apply - how do they rate? Are any of them "not good enough", even by these assumptions? Or do they all get a pass?
1thomblake9yLogically, it's possible that there is dynamic information not conveyed by "every single atomic position" that is lost when making a static copy. One could imagine that a recording of the positions over some amount of time would do better. Admittedly, our current understanding of physics might already rule out this possibility without my knowing.
0khafra9yI've wondered, before, whether there's any way to get yearly MRI, eeg, fMRI, etc. recordings on durable media for future preservation with your corpsicle. I couldn't afford it, but it seems like it could be useful.
3TheOtherDave9yThere are also more esoteric uses for regular baselines of that sort of thing. They come in handy while recovering from brain damage, for example.
0[anonymous]9yAnd they've also got much more money, for that matter.

Any news on this? (hey yall front page comment readers)

Would you rather wake up in future Detroit or future Scottsdale, Arizona?

1[anonymous]9yI thought it was funny.
-1Kevin9yI was being serious, I think.

I'm thinking Cryonics Institute at the moment but I haven't done too much research yet. The main factors are that CI will be much closer to my next area of residence and that from what I have read both seem to provide basically the same service (except I think with CI you might need to get Suspended Animation to move your body).

EDIT: It looks like Alcor uses a better cryoprotectant and that many CI clients are damaged before being transferred to their facilities (I'm unsure if this is the case for those who contract with Suspended Animation).

EDIT 2: Aft... (read more)

1benbest9yConcerning Mike Darwin's comments about the Curtis Henderson case, I suggest that you read the case reporthttp://cryonics.org/reports/CI95.html [http://cryonics.org/reports/CI95.html] There is no incompatibility between DMSO and PEG. The PEG make the solution hyperoncotic as the expected. My big mistake, and it was a bad one, I acknowledge, is that most of the vitrification solution was ruined because I was not aware that PEG would come out of solution when placed in a freezer. The patient was, however, perfused with the remaining solution, and was very well dehydrated as the burr holes indicated. Note particularly the paragraph "A number of CI Directors have become concerned that I have been modifying the cryoprotectant carrier solutions without adequate testing. The components I have used have been extensively tested in animal experiments and in clinical trials, and I have an extensive collection of peer-reviewed journal articles documenting tests. But none of these articles mention putting PEG into a freezer. In response to concerns by CI Directors (and my own concerns) I will not make more modifications to the carrier solutions, and I believe we should return to using the traditional VM−1 carrier for the time being. I have paid for some research to be done on this by outside researchers. Given the excellent dehydration seen with this patient, I think it would be a mistake to return to an iso-osmotic, non-oncotic carrier solution for the EG solutions. But I am returning to ordinary m-RPS-2 carrier solution for the 70% VM−1. " My mistake did not have the disastrous consequences implied by Mike Darwin. On the other hand, I acknowledge that it was a mistake, and I have not since made any solution modifications based on literature studies without lab verification by our researchers, Ashwin and Chana de Wolf. I do learn from my mistakes, and I admit this was a bad one that COULD have been serious, and I have resolved that it will not be repeated in the future -- o
2[anonymous]9yThis is a remarkable statement from Ben Best, and one that perhaps speaks best as to why CI is not a cryonics organization being run on a rational, scientific, evidence based basis. When Ben Best writes: "There is no incompatibility between DMSO and PEG. The PEG make the solution hyperoncotic as the expected. My big mistake, and it was a bad one, I acknowledge, is that most of the vitrification solution was ruined because I was not aware that PEG would come out of solution when placed in a freezer.," he is making a statement that has the following outright errors, misunderstandings or distortions in it: First, DMSO and PEG are incompatible in that they cannot be used either safely or effectively under the conditions required to carry out cryoprotective perfusion in a clinical (or research) setting. The first fact to consider is that DMSO-PEG solutions will often undergo gel formation when cooled to temperatures above freezing if left under refrigeration long enough. This phenomenon has a variable time course and is akin to nucleation and freezing in supercooled solutions - such mixtures may remain clear for days, or undergo precipitation/gel formation within hours of cooling. Second, the perfusate in question, VM-1 is designed to be administered at a SUBZERO temperature in order to minimize toxicity. The final concentration of cryoprotectants in VM-1, a roughly equal mixture of DMSO and ethylene glycol (the latter is the principal ingredient in automotive antifreeze) is ~ 70%! In the brain tissue slice experiments performed by CI's researcher Dr. Yuri Pichugin who invented VM-1, this very high concentration of agent was not introduced until the temperature of the brain tissue was -20 degrees C! CI's own protocol calls for the introduction of VM-1 at the lowest possible temperature that they can achieve, given that they have no heat exchanger in their patient perfusion circuit. The way CI attempts to get the temperature of the final pass of VM-1 below 0 degrees C,
1mikedarwin9yThis is a remarkable statement from Ben Best, and one that perhaps speaks best as to why CI is not a cryonics organization being run on a rational, scientific,or evidence based basis. When Ben Best writes: "There is no incompatibility between DMSO and PEG. The PEG make the solution hyperoncotic as the expected. My big mistake, and it was a bad one, I acknowledge, is that most of the vitrification solution was ruined because I was not aware that PEG would come out of solution when placed in a freezer," he is making a statement that has the following outright errors, misunderstandings or distortions in it: First, DMSO and PEG are incompatible in that they cannot be used either safely or effectively under the conditions required to carry out cryoprotective perfusion in a clinical (or research) setting AS PRACTICED BY CI. The first fact to consider is that DMSO-PEG solutions will often undergo gel formation when cooled to temperatures above freezing if left under refrigeration long enough. This phenomenon has a variable time course and is akin to nucleation and freezing in supercooled solutions - such mixtures may remain clear for days, or undergo precipitation/gel formation within hours of cooling. Second, the perfusate in question, VM-1, is designed to be administered at a SUBZERO temperature (-7 degrees C) in order to minimize toxicity. The final concentration of cryoprotectants in VM-1, a roughly equal mixture of DMSO and ethylene glycol (the latter is the principal ingredient in automotive antifreeze) and has a total concentration of these two agents of ~ 70%! In the brain tissue slice experiments performed by CI's researcher Dr. Yuri Pichugin who invented VM-1, this very high concentration of agent was not introduced until the temperature of the brain tissue was -20 degrees C! CI's own protocol for human cryonics patients calls for the introduction of VM-1 at the lowest possible temperature that they can achieve (~ -7 degrees C), given that they have no heat
1mikedarwin9yThis Mickey Mouse operation results in perfusate that is at some (variable) subzero temperature when it is pumped through the perfusion circuit and delivered to the patient. While CI case reports are chaotic and inconsistent - some report temperature data during perfusion ( http://www.cryonics.org/reports/CI97.html [http://www.cryonics.org/reports/CI97.html]), some do not ( http://www.cryonics.org/reports/CI75.html [http://www.cryonics.org/reports/CI75.html]) - it is clear that even with the practice of pre-cooling the VM-1 perfusate in a freezer before perfusing it, CI patients never (so far as I can determine from published case reports, see: http://www.cryonics.org/refs.html#cases [http://www.cryonics.org/refs.html#cases]) reached subzero temperatures of -7 degrees C throughout VM-1 administration and in fact rarely reach subzero temperatures at all. This despite what CI says in its own description of how its patients are to be perfused with VM-1: http://www.cryonics.org/research/CI-VM-1.html [http://www.cryonics.org/research/CI-VM-1.html] "The Cryonics Institute protocol for perfusing the heads (brains) of cryonics patients is a 4-stage stepped open circuit perfusion: (1) blood washout with carrier solution (4ºC) (2) 10% Ethylene Glycol (4ºC) (3) 30% Ethylene Glycol (4ºC) (4) 70% CI−VM−1 (−7ºC)" I would also note that in the same document, it is stated that the positive research results achieved with VM-1 in rats were achieved only under these conditions: *"To test the toxic effects of CI−VM−1 (with or without ice blockers) hippocampal slices were saturated with increasing concentrations of ethylene glycol at 0ºC and −7ºC before cooling to −20ºC for ten minutes of saturation with CI−VM−1 (with or without ice blockers). The DMSO in CI−VM−1 is less toxic at lower temperatures, and is least toxic when introduced at −20ºC. Adding the ethylene glycol first and cooling at 0.3ºC/minute ensured that the solution would not be frozen at −20ºC when the CI−VM−1 (with
2mikedarwin9yAs you can see from the CI data above and below, patient temperatures never come anywhere near -7 degrees, let alone the -20 degrees C called out in either the original animal research, or in CI's own publicly posted protocol for how cryoprotective perfusion is to be administered. In fact, it is necessary to look a number of case reports to even document that CI is perfusing its p atients with VM-1 chilled in a mechanical freezer: "Perfusion with CI−VM−1 vitrification solution began at 3:04 A.M. The CI−VM−1 was at freezer temperature (about −20ºC) in contrast to the ethylene glycol, which was at refrigerator temperature (about 3ºC)" see: http://www.cryonics.org/reports/CI110.html [http://www.cryonics.org/reports/CI110.html]In fact, this patient was one of the very few who achieved any subzero temperature during cryoprotective perfusion with VM-1: Refractive Index values only taken during CI−VM−1 perfusion CI Patient 110: http://www.cryonics.org/reports/CI110.html [http://www.cryonics.org/reports/CI110.html] TIME (AM) Nasopharyngeal temperature (ºC) Flow rate(liters/minute) Pressure mm Hg RJVRI 3:07 8.25 1.07 102 3:08 6.9 1.06 101 3:09 5.3 1.07 100 1.3700 3:11 3.6 1.3769 3:16 4.3 1.39 101 1.3670 3:19 2.0 1.37 3:20 0.8 1.00 1.62 1.367 3:20 Perfusion Halted/Surgery 3:30 0.4 0.35 134 1.4166 3:33 −1.4 0.29 135 3:37 −2.6 0.26 120 1.42 3:40 −3.6 0.24 111 1.424 3:41 −1.4 0.29 135 3:43 −3.7 0.26 127 1.42 3:40 −3.0 0.28...
3mikedarwin9yNext up for discussions is the issue of "hyperonconicity." Just as cells require a certain "tonicity" (electrolyte concentration) to maintain their normal volume, tissues with capillaries require a certain concentration (and type) of large (macro-) molecules (colloid) to avoid accumulating water between the cells and becoming swollen, or edematous. Hyperonconicity refers to any solution that has more ability to hold water in the circulatory system (circulating blood or perfusate) than would be the case under NORMAL conditions. The key word there is NORMAL. The macromolecules that comprise colloids can be thought of as molecular sponges that hold water in the capillaries and prevent it from accumulating in between cells as a result of the hydrostatic pressure of perfusion. This water holding ability is quite complex and nuanced and depends upon the condition of the junctions between the cells in the capillary, the charge of the colloid, the unique chemical properties of the colloid (poorly understood), the configuration of the colloid molecule, and so on. Onconicity and hyperonconicity are thus in actual practice, relative terms - relative to the condition of the capillary membrane. It is quite possible to have a markedly hyperoncotic perfusate and still have massive edema due to accumulation of water and of the colloid in between the cells! This is so because injured capillary membranes do not behave the same way as healthy or intact ones do - they leak! They leak colloid and with the colloid goes water. Simply cooling the organs (or bodies) of non-hibernating animals results in increased capillary permeability and the leakage of colloid and water into the spaces between cells. There is currently not a complete understanding of why this happens, or why some colloids do not leak as much in the cold as do others. In fact, only a very few species of colloid have been shown to leak less in hypothermia. Capillary injury and consequent leakage of colloid from ischem
0benbest9yAny funeral director can move your body. Most CI patients are shipped in ice or dry ice by funeral directors. Contracting with Suspended Animation for SST (Standby/Stabilization/Transport) can minimize ischemic damage. Three-quarters of CI Members with contracts and funding for cryopreservation have not opted for SA. Most people do not die unexpectedly, but for those who do neither Alcor nor SA will be of much help in the ischemic damage produced in those cases. SST is not available from Alcor or SA outside of North America, at present.
0maxmore9yThe last statement is not accurate. Currently, with some warning, Alcor WILL deploy people outside of North America. In the near future, we expect to be able to deploy more local responders either instead of or in addition to our own personnel.

To quote Peter Lynch, "I want to buy a company any fool can run, because eventually one will". Making a company fool-proof is essential when the main purpose of the company is to survive several hundred years (maybe even thousands), an exceedingly rare occurrence. None of the current cryo shops seem anywhere close to having the necessary structure in place.

The post asks a very specific question, which your comment does not help answer.

-1shminux9y"neither" is a valid answer...
9Paul Crowley9yEvery time I posted about cryonics on my journal, I had to put in an addendum to say "WARNING: COMMENTS NOT ABOUT THE SPECIFIC SUBJECT OF THIS POST WILL BE DELETED", otherwise I ended up having all the usual arguments about cryonics in every post I made about it. This post is not here to have all those arguments again, or even the specific argument about whether a good enough firm to sign up with exists. This post is for someone who has decided to sign up to discuss which of two EXISTING firms to sign up with.
1wedrifid9yMake a new post or resurrect an old one if you want to wish to discuss a different topic to the one in the post.

Old thread, but here goes... does it matter if CI clients are more "messed up" on average than Alcor clients currently? If we believe in constant scientific progress, isn't it just a matter of Alcor clients being revived in the mid 2100's vs. CI clients being revived in the mid 2200's???

Having just started researching my own cryonic future, any significant updates as to this 2012 Alcor vs. CI thread...? It scared me off $29K CI back onto $220K Alcor...

As to full body, might my full body DNA be used to recreate my specific young adult body -- I am thinking I want full body with head detached for quick infusion... Might my aged original body have monetary value in 2200 that I can sell-trade for whatever...?

A while back I decided it was time to stop cryocrastinating, and discovered that CI do not offer any collection services to where I live and seemed to be largely "you're on your own if you're outside the US" while Alcor had... some kind of international process that I couldn't really clarify despite asking.

Eventually I got sick of Alcor seeming to only check their emails once per week and abandoned the whole quest. So I got pushed away from CI because they refused to help me in Australia, and pushed away from the other org because they consistent... (read more)

6enoonsti9yDid you check out Stasis Systems of Australia? They appear to be in the early stages of development, but it may be something worth keeping an eye on: http://stasissystemsaustralia.com/ [http://stasissystemsaustralia.com/] In the meantime, if you are truly interested in cryonics, then I recommend taking a more proactive approach (writing articles, joining/forming local groups, etc). Don't simply treat it as a good for consumption. Alcor and CI are confronted with a logistical nightmare and so each of us really have to contribute more than just money.

AIUI, since I'm in the UK, the only part of my cryopreservation that my US-based provider would handle is final cooldown and storage; the rest would be done by Cryonics UK in either instance. I think that means there's currently no downside in going with the cheaper provider.

1enoonsti9yI haven't heard about Cryonics UK for a while. Are you part of their standby team?
1Paul Crowley9yNo; I've been to one training event, but I can't afford the time/costs to go repeatedly.

I have chose the Cryonics Institute for several reasons. It is not only the price which makes a huge difference to me because I can potentially save my entire family (5 people for less then the cost of 1 person at Alcor) but there is other reasons as well. While I might agree that in some circumstances Alcor can do a better job at profusion they often do not and certainly to me they do not justify the costs. Alcor has huge overhead compared to CI the number one expense being personnel. It only takes 2 people at CI to do what many more take for much more in... (read more)

I signed up with Bay Area Cryonics Society in 1977, and changed to Alcor in 1985, along with my husband, Thomas Donaldson, a mathematician and writer, who is now a neuropreservation patient with Alcor, as of 2006. We changed because of the dynamism and research brought to Alcor by Mike Darwin and Jerry Leaf, both of whom I first met in 1979. I switched to CI about ten years ago after moving back to Australia.

A big reason for moving back to Australia was largely because as a result of the lawsuits engaged in by Alcor, the Dora Kent case and Donaldson... (read more)

[-][anonymous]9y 0

As I mentioned elsewhere, my biggest concern is the continuous operation of a cryoshop over the potential centuries or even millennia until the revival is attempted, as nearly no entities have ever survived that long. I have been unsuccessful in my search for an Alcor executive explicitly responsible for existential risk analysis and mitigation.

By existential risk to the company I mean an event that would result in the company failing to the degree that the stored patients are discarded, even though the outside world merrily hums along, and not an event t... (read more)

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Such an acknowledgement, though appreciated, is frankly disturbing, considering that members depend utterly on these organizations remaining operational and solvent for decades, perhaps even centuries, after they are deanimated.

Decades? You are being ridiculous. If cryonics works it will be many centuries as an absolute minimum. And no organization in the entire history had unbroken record like that. Even the Catholic Church had breaks from time to time.

0JoshuaZ9yWhat makes you reach this conclusion? The last anti-Pope was in the late 1400s [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antipope_Felix_V]. Even if one includes the Reformation and Counter-Reformation that's at least three centuries of unambiguous stability. There are also still extant corporations dating from the 700s [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oldest_companies]. In the case of many companies, they go out of business because the product they are selling is no longer relevant (e.g. typewriter companies) but cryonics corps will continue to remain relevant as long as they have patients.
0taw9yFirst, we need technology of living forever as a precondition before any kind of rethawing makes any sense, and this technology is so obviously centuries away. Just notice how slowly any kind of anti-aging research progresses. I'd happily bet against any cryonics rethawing happening in the next few centuries, but there's no market for that. Just to mention a few breaks I remember - pope was imprisoned and Rome sacked in 1527 [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sack_of_Rome_(1527\]), Napoleon took over Rome and exiled the pope in 1798 [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Republic_(18th_century\]), and takeover of Rome by Kingdom Italian [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner_in_the_Vatican] was at least highly disruptive if it didn't constitute a full break of continuity. Their list is extremely dubious, and even cases where companies really operate since the listed date includes a lot of breaks (like Wedel's for WW2, Communist takeover etc. - only the brand really continues all that time). I'd take no entries on their list at face value.
1AngryOnion8yI'd love to bet for cryonics happening within this century, if not within 50 years. What makes this bet even more interesting is that pretty much everyone is betting against it. Key in my estimation is the phenomenon of exponential progress, particularly since the dawn of mass internet and the unbelievable wealth and ever increasing and improving information exchange. The technology to living forever, as you put it, is probably just around the corner (within 30 years), but yes, the chronological order makes sense, at least for old folks.
0shiggity8yExponential progress? Nothing has changed within the last 50 years. At all. We've always had the personal computer, smartphones, buckyball quantum entanglement, the World Wide Web, the full sequence of the human genome, a deactivated Leukemia-killing HIV strain, autostereoscopy, in vitro fertilization, OCR, GPS, LHC, 3D printing, and robotic exoskeletons for paraplegics. And nothing will change in the next 50.
1JoshuaZ9yValid points. The continuity of the Catholic Church had a lot more interruptions after the last anti-Pope. And your point about functional interruptions of old businesses is quite relevant since cryonics patients aren't going to survive just off a surviving brand name. I think you may be overestimating the amount of time it will take for cryonics to work, but I haven't thought about the time-frame that hard.
2gwern9yIf you had Catholic Church style cryonics orgs, interruptions wouldn't be so bad - you could build vast (dare I say cathedral-sized?) underground cryonics graves with excess volume & boil-off times measured in years or decades. You could analogize to libraries: books decay and need active protection and fires are risks, but can go a few years without (probably) being destroyed. The Church has succeeded in some very long-term libraries.
1JoshuaZ9yThis would work if one has enough people actually signing up for cryonics. As long as very few people are doing so, it isn't an option.