In the past, the Cryonics Institute has had a policy that said that they would not accept anyone who is not a member. This has changed. The policy now is that someone who has full legal authority over your body can sign you up after you die. It costs $36,250 to be frozen if you are not signed up, which is more expensive. They also will not do anything until you have been on dry ice for 2 weeks after they have been contacted, so not being a member is more risky.
This is very important news for anyone who is currently cryocrastinating. It means that you can drastically increase your chances of survival without filling out any forms. All you have to do is tell a loved one you want to be frozen upon death, and that you would like them to take responsibility for making sure this happens. This takes literally 30 seconds. Do it now!
This news might also be a reason to not sign up right away, if you think something better (like radical life extension or uploading) will come along in your lifetime. We should discuss this in the comments.
Edit: The general consensus of this discussion is that this is a really bad reason not to sign up for cryonics.
...and they probably won't do it when the time comes to act.
The history of cryonics teaches us that, while people often contact cryonics companies to freeze their already or soon-to-be dead relatives on their own incentive, it is a much more common situation that the relatives of a person who has already completed all the paperwork and paid for the cryopreservation with their own money try to actively prevent the preservation.
Note also that the non-signed-up people's relatives come from a population many orders of magnitude larger than signed-up people's relatives.
Being on dry ice for two weeks is suicide. That's my take based on intermittent research for the past 12 years and talking to numerous cryobiologists.
This does seem like valuable information, but conversely, 2 weeks on dry ice still sounds extremely harmful for survival odds, so this is probably not a good reason to put off signing up.
I don't see what the rush for signing up for cryonics is all about.
My understanding is that while I'm young, accidents are the most common cause of death, and it's hard to cryopreserve someone after an accident & cryonics works much better if you die in a hospital. So being covered for cryonics isn't that useful when you're young.
Once you accept that premise, it seems like you're better off just putting more money in to your retirement fund or other investments in order to pay for your suspension when you're older. Putting money in your retirement fund has tax benefits, and you'll actually make money through the interest you earn rather than losing money to an insurance company. (Insurance companies are only profitable because they take more money in through premiums than they pay out, while the stock market has historically gotten decent returns, at least in the US.) I don't find Rudi Hoffman's reasons to fund your suspension through insurance very convincing.
As an added benefit, you can put off the decision of whether you want to go for plastination or not, whether you're wealthy enough for full-body Alcor as opposed to head-only CI, and maybe other things until you have ... (read more)
Did you get this the wrong way around? I thought Alcor was more expensive but offered both full-body and head-only, and CI only offered full-body.
I see people saying things like
but I'd thought the truth was nearer to
Do I have a mistaken idea of how useless mere freezing is for cryopreservation?
It may be a bit difficult for most individuals to visualize ice formation with enough clarity and detail. It is not just the expansion of water upon freezing that is a problem. Ice crystals don't appear out of nothing. They are formed out of water that is there. During freezing, the ice crystals initially get made of pure water, forcing everything else into inter-crystal spaces (smashing it together into smaller volume).
In addition to the already grave damage of shredding something that is made of fairly identical parts, the cell membrane fragments get to float in the concentrated brine (as the pure water was removed), which would assuredly restrict the space of possible states of multitude of proteins in the receptor gates and the like, losing information irreversibly. Which is also the case for most "cryoprotectants".
At molecular scale, there's no tiny scratches, lost hairs, and the like, that the future superintelligent Sherlock Holmes can look at with a better magnifying glass.
Rabbit kidneys are much smaller than human brains.
The square-cube law is the main showstopper: you can remove heat form a thing at a rate proportional to its surface area, while its heat capacity is proportional to mass and thus to volume. Therefore, maximum attainable cooling speed decreases with size (if you try to cool any faster, youl'll just crack the surface).
Rabbit kidneys can be vitrified without using a toxic concentration of cryprotectants, moreover, IIUC the circulatory system of a kidney allows higher flow and pressure (a kidney is just a blood filter, after all), making cryoprotectant perfusion easier. Even then, cryopereservation isn't perfect: microscopic damage has been observed.
"Figure out the past state from the current state". Or at least some close approximation of the past state.
Which involves attempting to time-reverse the laws of physics, on some level. Which is impossible, strictly speaking, but you may be able to get close enough for government purposes.
I don't see any possible scenario where this applies, so long as you are insurable. Cost of cryonics through term life insurance is cheap, and the risks of 2 weeks on a slab is huge.
But by all means, if you don't have a cryo plan yet, then have that conversation with your loved one, now.
Question: when people say that two weeks on dry ice is suicide, is the 'two weeks' part significant? Are two weeks on dry ice worse than two days and better than two months on dry ice or is it that the moment you get frozen without cryoprotectant, you're done?
The two-week delay makes sense from a risk management perspective, but it makes this change a really, really bad reason to put off signing up. The only interesting case I see offhand is the one where the person with legal control of the corpse wants them cryopreserved, but the dead person inside does not.
That seems prima facie to be really, really detrimental for the purposes of keeping the informational state unscrambled / recognizable (it may be sensible from a legal / PR POV, but I'm not much interested in that).
In a fun twist, it may well turn out that the "first" reconstituted bodies are worse off (lower-fidelity reconstruction), and you could argue that once mankind (shepharded by an automated she... (read more)
This post seems much more appropriate for the Discussion section.
Really? According to the most recent survey, 55% of Less Wrong is either cyrocastinating or still thinking about whether or not they want to sign up. I tried to make the post as short as possible to not waste anyone's time, while trying to get what I think is a very important message across to as many of that 55% as possible.
If a mod disagrees with me, I would not be offended at all if this gets moved to discussion.
Why this part?
This will increase cryocrastinating by a factor far greater than the number of people actually being cryopreserved because they randomly told a love one about this.
I wonder if cryonauts ever prepare some kind of detailed information packet about their personalities, values, etc. to help a future superintelligence put them back together. It seems like getting a full genome sequence, some personality test data, and maybe some video of you would be very cheap on the scale of current cryonics costs. The genome would be expensive, but prices seem to be falling steadily, so in a few years it might be a trivial expense compared to cryonics.
Does anyone do anything like this?
You mean a loved one who is willing to shell out $36,250.
Where 'willing' includes the case where your estate is worth more than $36,250, they inherit it and they are 'willing' to honour your wishes regarding the disposition thereof even if they are not legally obliged to by you telling them formally in your will.
Considering Michael's comment this post might be an information hazard as it will encourage people to cryosticate ("I can always tell a loved one on my death bed").
I suppose that even the people who, in contrast with expert opinion, assign non-negligible chance of success to prompt cryonics with vitrification (e.g. the kind of procedure Mike "Darwin" suggests), will agree that two weeks on dry ice without any form of cryoprotection mean no realistic chances of success.
What does the fact that the Cryonics Institute is offering that implies about their honesty and/or competence?