Probability of Cryonic Success?

by DataPacRat1 min read27th Sep 20124 comments


Personal Blog

While browsing some of the websites on cryonics, I've come across this page, a spreadsheet which performs a quick analysis of the odds of a successful cryonic revival. It allows a user to enter their estimates of various events happening in a given period, such as the failure of the cryonics facility due to various causes, when revival technology will be developed, and so forth. (There's also a more advanced calculator here, which I'm not going to worry about at the moment.)

What are your best estimates of the relevant factors?


(Or, in case it might save a step: my own current age is 35, and my current estimate of my mean time of death across all my futures is when I'm 78. Given that, what is your best estimate of the probability that I'll be successfully revived from cryonic suspension?)

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Robin Hanson knows a lot more about it than I do, and he estimates 5% here. I'd say that seems fair.

Edit: forgot to mention this thread.

Both of these calculators seem to to assume that revival technology is certain to be developed eventually, and it's just a matter of time before it is. (Moreover, they assume an exponential distribution for the time to develop it, which is naive, but not as pressing a problem.) The more concerning possibility is, I think, that a revival might not be possible at all.

Beyond that, I find it difficult to compute my own estimate this way because the risk of human negligence or dishonesty is by far my biggest concern (apart from the technological possibility of revival), and I don't have a good estimate of how likely this is. I could make something up, which seems to be popular, but then I could just make up the cryonics probability, too.

The more concerning possibility is, I think, that a revival might not be possible at all.

Then the calculator merely gives P( my revival | revival is possible ). Which, if we can estimate P( revival is possible ), will allow us to recover P( my revival ). I think I understand that you're saying P( revival is possible ) is unknown.

From trying to design a calculator and testing it on people, I found that the parameter that is the hardest to model and yet that has the most sensitivity for personal opinions on the subject is the "value of post revival life". Some people seem to value life at "infinity" and others are certain that life will be completely and totally awesome post revival and hence be worth trillions of dollars (and even 0.5% of a trillion is a lot). Some people I've talked with seem to think it would have negative value?

If anyone knows of solid techniques for rigorously drilling into the valuation of a credence goods like "life experiences in the far future as one gets ridiculously old", I'd be really interested in hearing about the technique or how you think it might be applied to valuing post-resuscitation life in the somewhat distant future.