I recently attended a small gathering whose purpose was to let young people signed up for cryonics meet older people signed up for cryonics - a matter of some concern to the old guard, for obvious reasons.

The young cryonicists' travel was subsidized.  I suspect this led to a greatly different selection filter than usually prevails at conferences of what Robin Hanson would call "contrarians".  At an ordinary conference of transhumanists - or libertarians, or atheists - you get activists who want to meet their own kind, strongly enough to pay conference fees and travel expenses.  This conference was just young people who took the action of signing up for cryonics, and who were willing to spend a couple of paid days in Florida meeting older cryonicists.

The gathering was 34% female, around half of whom were single, and a few kids.  This may sound normal enough, unless you've been to a lot of contrarian-cluster conferences, in which case you just spit coffee all over your computer screen and shouted "WHAT?"  I did sometimes hear "my husband persuaded me to sign up", but no more frequently than "I pursuaded my husband to sign up".  Around 25% of the people present were from the computer world, 25% from science, and 15% were doing something in music or entertainment - with possible overlap, since I'm working from a show of hands.

I was expecting there to be some nutcases in that room, people who'd signed up for cryonics for just the same reason they subscribed to homeopathy or astrology, i.e., that it sounded cool.  None of the younger cryonicists showed any sign of it.  There were a couple of older cryonicists who'd gone strange, but none of the young ones that I saw.  Only three hands went up that did not identify as atheist/agnostic, and I think those also might have all been old cryonicists.  (This is surprising enough to be worth explaining, considering the base rate of insanity versus sanity.  Maybe if you're into woo, there is so much more woo that is better optimized for being woo, that no one into woo would give cryonics a second glance.)

The part about actually signing up may also be key - that's probably a ten-to-one or worse filter among people who "get" cryonics.  (I put to Bill Faloon of the old guard that probably twice as many people had died while planning to sign up for cryonics eventually, than had actually been suspended; and he said "Way more than that.")  Actually signing up is an intense filter for Conscientiousness, since it's mildly tedious (requires multiple copies of papers signed and notarized with witnesses) and there's no peer pressure.

For whatever reason, those young cryonicists seemed really normal - except for one thing, which I'll get to tomorrow.  Except for that, then, they seemed like very ordinary people: the couples and the singles, the husbands and the wives and the kids, scientists and programmers and sound studio technicians.

It tears my heart out.

At some future point I ought to post on the notion of belief hysteresis, where you get locked into whatever belief hits you first.  So it had previously occurred to me (though I didn't write the post) to argue for cryonics via a conformity reversal test:

If you found yourself in a world where everyone was signed up for cryonics as a matter of routine - including everyone who works at your office - you wouldn't be the first lonely dissenter to earn the incredulous stares of your coworkers by unchecking the box that kept you signed up for cryonics, in exchange for an extra $300 per year.

(Actually it would probably be a lot cheaper, more like $30/year or a free government program, with that economy of scale; but we should ignore that for purposes of the reversal test.)

The point being that if cryonics were taken for granted, it would go on being taken for granted; it is only the state of non-cryonics that is unstable, subject to being disrupted by rational argument.

And this cryonics meetup was that world.  It was the world of the ordinary scientists and programmers and sound studio technicians who had signed up for cryonics as a matter of simple common sense.

It tears my heart out.

Those young cryonicists weren't heroes.  Most of the older cryonicists were heroes, and of course there were a couple of other heroes among us young folk, like a former employee of Methuselah who'd left to try to put together a startup/nonprofit around a bright idea he'd had for curing cancer (note: even I think this is an acceptable excuse).  But most of the younger cryonicists weren't there to fight a desperate battle against Death, they were people who'd signed up for cryonics because it was the obvious thing to do.

And it tears my heart out, because I am a hero and this was like seeing a ray of sunlight from a normal world, some alternate Everett branch of humanity where things really were normal instead of crazy all the goddamned time, a world that was everything this world could be and isn't.

Then there were the children, some of whom had been signed up for cryonics since the day they were born.

It tears my heart out.  I'm having trouble remembering to breathe as I write this.  My own little brother isn't breathing and never will again.

You know what?  I'm going to come out and say it.  I've been unsure about saying it, but after attending this event, and talking to the perfectly ordinary parents who signed their kids up for cryonics like the goddamn sane people do, I'm going to come out and say it:  If you don't sign up your kids for cryonics then you are a lousy parent.

If you aren't choosing between textbooks and food, then you can afford to sign up your kids for cryonics.  I don't know if it's more important than a home without lead paint, or omega-3 fish oil supplements while their brains are maturing, but it's certainly more important than you going to the movies or eating at nice restaurants.  That's part of the bargain you signed up for when you became a parent.  If you can afford kids at all, you can afford to sign up your kids for cryonics, and if you don't, you are a lousy parent.  I'm just back from an event where the normal parents signed their normal kids up for cryonics, and that is the way things are supposed to be and should be, and whatever excuses you're using or thinking of right now, I don't believe in them any more, you're just a lousy parent.

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January 21, 2010

Eliezer Yudkowsky writes (in Normal Cryonics):

The part about actually signing up may also be key - that's probably a ten-to-one or worse filter among people who "get" cryonics. (I put to Bill Faloon of the old guard that probably twice as many people had died while planning to sign up for cryonics eventually, than had actually been suspended; and he said "Way more than that.") Actually signing up is an intense filter for Conscientiousness, since it's mildly tedious (requires multiple copies of papers signed and notarized with witnesses) and there's no peer pressure.<

Comment: there’s that, but if that was all it was, it wouldn’t be harder than doing your own income taxes by hand. A lot more people manage that, than do atheists who can afford it manage to sign up for cryonics.

So what’s the problem? A major one is what I might term the “creep factor.” Even if you have no fears of being alone in the future, or being experimented upon by denizens of the future, there’s still the problem that you have to think about your own physical mortality in a very concrete way. A way which requires choices, for hours and perhaps even days.

And they aren’t... (read more)

I'm baffled that this is the stumbling block for so many people. I can understand being worried about the cost/uncertainty trade-off, but I really don't understand why it's any less troublesome than buying life insurance, planning a funeral, picking a cemetery plot, writing a will, or planning for cremation. People make choices that involve contemplating their death all the time, and people make choices about unpleasant-sounding medical treatments all the time. Well, maybe more people would sign up if Alcor's process didn't involve as much thinking about the alternatives? I had thought that the process was just signing papers and arranging life insurance. But if Alcor's process is turning people away, maybe that needs to change. Maybe I'm just deluding myself: I'm not in a financial position to sign up yet, and I plan on signing up when I am. But I can't see the "creep factor" being an issue for me at all. I have no idea what that would feel like.
For what it's worth, I've heard people initially had many of the same hangups about life insurance, saying that they didn't want to gamble on death. The way that salespeople got around that was by emphasizing that the contracts would protect the family in event of the breadwinner's death, and thus making it less of a selfish thing. I wonder if cryo needs a similar marketing parallel. "Don't you want to see your parents again?"
This is the exact sentence that crossed my mind upon reading the original comment. I often find that my reactions and feelings are completely different from other people's, though.
Speaking as someone who tried getting a concrete price estimate, the process can stand to be much improved. I had/will have to (if I follow through): 1. Get convinced that cryo is worth digging into (maybe call this step "0"). 2. Figure out where to get price info (this took another chunk of time until I ran across some useful Less Wrong posts) for life insurance related stuff. 3. Contact a life insurance person (as a cold call) 4. Hand over some personal info. 5. Get a pile of PDFs in return along with finding out that I still have to... 6. Decide between different cryo organizations. 6 a) Find out info about the organizations' recurring fees. 6 b) Do research into each organization 7. Decide which cryo approach to take. 8. Read over all the stuff from step 5. 9. Talk to the organization from step 6 about the physical logistics such as the wrist band thingy. 10. Make a final Y/N decision 11. Hunt down notary(ies) and witness(es) (?) 11 a) Make appointments with everyone 12. Fill out the papers from the life insurance people 13. Fill out the papers from the cryo organization. 14. Sign stuff. 15. Sign more stuff. 16. Mail everything At any time between steps 1 and 16, the process can fall completely apart.
3Paul Crowley
I live in the UK, and when I was self-employed I had an accountant do my taxes. I'm looking into signing up, and it looks to be much, much harder than that; not an "oh, must get around to it" thing but a long and continuing period of investigation to even find out what I need to sort out. This bar currently seems very, very high to me; if it were as simple as getting a mortgage I'd probably already be signed up.
Rudi Hoffman has sent word back. The quote I was given for whole-life (constant coverage, constant premiums, no time limit) is $1900 per year (I'm 40, male and healhty), for a payout of $200K. The more problematic news is that the life insurance company may start requiring a US Social Security number.
0Paul Crowley
Wow, that's a lot. Thanks!
Yes. The major conclusion here is - if you are going to sign up, sign up early.
Steve I didn't know that story about Frederik Pohl-thank you for posting it, fascinating. Also, they weren't all yuppies at the FL teens & twenties cryonicist conference, there were representatives from all sorts of backgrounds/classes. Personally my motivation in signing up for cryonics is that I think the amount of knowledge that we have to learn about the Universe pales in comparison to my short natural lifespan, that keeps me in awe-as I currently learn all that I can, and all the new things I realize I don't know. That said, I'm perfectly happy with my own life, with my family, friends and community work and if I get more time, an "extreme lifespan" to see what is out there in the billions of light years of space, if I get more time to help end inequality if it still exists--or to move on to other goals, then so be it-I got lucky that cryonics worked ;-)
This is an awesome comment. I plan to sign up for cryonics when I can, and I'm really hoping I have the guts to go through with it for myself and any children I may someday have. I hope it really is comparable to signing up to be an organ donor, because I did that without a second thought. On the other hand, that was just one of many boxes on the driver's license paperwork.

I'm still trying to convince my friends.

It's still not working.

Maybe I'm doing it backwards. Who is already signed up and wants to be my friend?

I find it rather odd that no one has answered the original question. I'm signed up, and I'll be your friend.
2Eli Tyre
This made me smile. : )
Someone did answer via PM, but the more, the merrier. Preferred mode of offsite contact?
PM sent with details.
What's the difference between making friends now and making friends after you wake up? What's the difference between making a family now, and making a new family then? (here I'm referencing both this comment about finding new friends, and your comment in the other thread about starting a new family) If a friendly singularity happens, I think it's likely that the desire of extroverts like you for companionship and close relationship will have been taken into account along the way and that forming these bonds will still be possible. Of course right now I'd want to be with my current fiancé, and I'm planning to try to convince her to sign up for cryonics, but if I lost her, I'd still rather live and have to figure out another way to get companionship in the far future than to die.
First of all, my friends aren't interchangeable. It's already a big step for me to be willing to make a presorted cryonics-friendly friend as a substitute for getting my entire existing cohort of companions on board, or even just one. Second of all, waiting until after revival introduces another chain of "ifs" - particularly dreadful ifs - into what's already a long, tenuous chain of ifs.
Of course they aren't. I'm just saying that I'd prefer making new friends to death, and that despite the fact that I love my friends very much, there's nothing that says that they are the "best friends I can ever make" and that anybody else can only provide an inferior relationship. Once again, between the certitude of death and the possibility of life in a post-friendly-singularity world, I'll take the "ifs" even if it means doing hard things like re-building a social circle (not something easy for me). I'm just having a really hard time imagining myself making the decision to die because I lost someone (or even everyone). In fact, I just lost my uncle (brain cancer), and I loved him dearly, he was like a second father to me. His death just made me feel even more strongly that I want to live. But I suppose we could be at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to these kinds of things.
I guess I'm just more dependent on ready access to deeply connected others than you? This sounds like a matter of preferences, not a matter of correctly turning those preferences into plans.

If you need friends post suspension you can pay for my suspension (currently my budget goes to X-risk) and I will promise to spend a total of at least one subjective current human lifetime sincerely trying to be the best friend I can for you unless the revived get a total of less than 100 subjective human lifetimes of run-time in which case I will give you 1% of my total run-time instead. If that's not enough, you can also share your run-time with me. I will even grant you the right to modify my reward centers to directly make me like you in any copy running on run time you give me. This offer doesn't allow your volition to replace mine in any other respect if the issue is important.

I'd bet karma at 4 to 1 odds that Alicorn finds this proposal deeply disturbing rather than helpful.

You're on. Alicorn, would you be so kind as to arbitrate? We need you to evaluate which of these three categories Michael's offer fits in to: 1. Deeply Disturbing 2. Helpful 3. Just 'somewhat' disturbing all the way through to indifference. Would 'slightly amusing' count as helpful if it served to create slightly more confidence in the prospect of actively seeking out the friendship the potentially cryonically inclined?
Yep, disturbing. "Deeply" might be pushing it a little. But a) I'll have to mess with my budget to afford one suspension, let alone two, and while I'd chip in for my sister if she'd let me, people I do not yet know and love are not extended the same disposition. b) There's presently no way to enforce such a promise. c) Even if there were, that kind of enforcement would itself be creepy, since my ethics would ordinarily oblige me to abide by any later change of mind. d) This arrangement does nothing to ensure that I will enjoy MichaelVassar's company; I'm sure he's a great person, but there are plenty of great people I just don't click with. e) I do not like the idea of friendships with built-in time quotas, I mean, ew.
"Deeply" seemed unlikely given that 'deeply disturbing' would have to be reserved in case Michael had seriously offered his services as a mercenary to carry out a kidnapping, decapitation, and non-consensual vitrification. But it is so efficient! Surely Robin has made a post advocating such arrangements somewhere. ;)
So I guess that's a "push" on the original terms of the bet, falling between "helpful" and "deeply disturbing".
Yes, bookkeeper loses his overheads. That's what the bookie gets for accepting bets with ties.
Now, Robin, there's a person who regularly deeply disturbs me.
You're forgetting the part where they revive you only when there is a cure for whatever you died from. You may be revived long before or after they are revived. And if that happens, there's also the chance they can die again and not be stored before you're revived. You'd probably have to give instructions to hold off on revival, otherwise, risk the missed connection.
EDIT: I found all the information I need here: http://www.cryonics.org/become.html
I'm in the process of signing up (yeah, I know, they're all saying that... But I really am! and plan to post about my experience on LW once it's all over) and I'll be your friend too, if you'll have me as a friend.
Even if you were not signed up and never planned to be, I can always use more friends! What's your preferred offsite contact method?
I've always wondered what the "Add to Friends" button on LW does, so I'm trying it out on you. (I hope you don't mind!)
It's a feed agregator. There used to be a link on LessWrong to view all contributions by "Friends", but it was removed some time past.
I had never noticed that button. I'll try it too.
I don't mind at all, but I haven't found it to do anything much when I've tried it.
Indeed not; all it seemed to do (at least on my end) was transform itself into a "Remove from Friends" button. Did anything happen on your end?
I detected no change.
On his overview page, can you see which articles he liked/disliked?
Doesn't look like it.
I can see bgrah449's - I think that's what "Make my votes public" does.
I sent you a private message.
I'm working on it. Is taking a bit longer than planned because insurance company seemed to throw a few extra hoops for me to jump through. (including some stuff from some samples they took from me that they don't like. Need to see a doc and have them look at the data and pass judgement on it for the insurance company). Hence need to make doc appointment.
Actually having the process underway is probably close enough. Preferred mode of offsite contact?
Am available email, IM, phone or online voice chat. (Any direct meetup depends on where you live, of course) The first two though would probably be the main ones for me. Anyways, will PM you specifics (e-addy, phone number, other stuff if you want (as far as IM, lemme know which IM service you use, if any). Hrm... LWbook: Where giving (or getting) the (extremely) cold shoulder is a plus. ;)
I'll say it again: It's much easier for you to sign up alone than it is to convince your friends to sign up with you.
I will sign up when I have a reasonable expectation that I'm not buying myself a one-way ticket to Extrovert Hell.
Given the opening post I am not sure I understand what you are saying. What about being resurrected with the people described would be an Extrovert Hell? That you don't have any pre revival friends?
I'm referencing a prior thread. Pre-revival friends or family are a prerequisite for me not looking at the prospect of revival with dread instead of hope.

With those values the 'find friends who are signed up to cryonics' sounds like the obvious plan. (Well, less obvious than the one where you kidnap your friends, cut of their head and preserve it against their will. But more sane.)

I don't think most of my friendships would survive kidnapping, decapitation, and non-consensual vitrification, even if my friends survived it.

A friend will help you move. A good friend will help you move a body. A great friend is the body.

That sounded pretty odd until I looked up the parent comment, I gotta tell you.

This is an incredibly good joke.
I bet that online dating and friend making will work a lot better in the future. Can you elaborate about what is so dreadful about waking up without knowing anyone?
But, but!..
Okay, 1) I dislike the "shut up and multiply" sentiment anyway, since it's so distinctly consequentialist. I will not shut up, and I will only multiply when everything I'm multiplying is really commensurate including in a deontic sense. I will walk away from Omelas should I have occasion. And 2) it's my freakin' life. I'm not deciding to deny someone else the chance to be ferried to the future on the basis of it sounding lonely. Is there some other significance to the links and quote that you hoped I'd extract?
The significant claim seems to be that it is often necessary to quell an instinctive reaction in order to best meet your own preferences. There are some reflectively consistent preferences systems in which it is better to die than to suffer the distress of a lonely revival but there are many more that are not. I take Vladmir's suggestion to be "make sure this is what you really want, not just akrasia magnified a thousand times". Often claims of the shape of Vladimir's are intended to enforce a norm upon the recipient. In this case the implied 'should' is of the kind "action X may best give Y what they want" which is at least slightly less objectionable.
I did a reversal test on the preference; if everybody I cared about disappeared from my life all at once and everybody who remained was as alien as the people of the future will likely be, I would probably want to die, no cryonics required.
I bet that online dating and friend making will work a lot better in the future. There probably exist many people in the future that appreciate your unique knowledge and want to get to know you better. When you wake up in the future, you will probably immediately meet people from a time not so unlike our own. Going through physical and mental rehab with them could be a good way to form lifelong friendships. You are never going to be the only person from the 20th and 21st century in the future. Can you talk more about why your future is so dreadful? Stating that all possible futures are worse than death is a strong statement. In this reversal test, it even assigns a "probably" to being suicidal. I think your flaw in reasoning lies there. I don't think that being "probably" suicidal in the future is sufficient reason to not visit the future. In our time, we morally justify the forcible hospitalization and medication of suicidal people until they aren't suicidal anymore. With Friendly AI, this moral justification may remain true in the future, and once you're on drugs or other brain enhancements, you'll probably love life and think your self from your first life absolutely insane for preferring death to glorious existence. Again, I think your desire for deep connections with other people is likely to be nearly immediately fixable in the future. This does sound a little dystopian, but I don't think there exist very many wake-up futures in which your existential misery can not be fixed. To me, it seems like in nearly all cases it is worth waiting until the future to decide whether or not it is worth living.
"When you wake up in the future, you will probably immediately meet people from a time not so unlike our own. Going through physical and mental rehab with them could be a good way to form lifelong friendships. You are never going to be the only person from the 20th and 21st century in the future." Woman: You're from 1999? I'm from 2029! Say, remember when we got invaded by the cybernetic ape army? Fry: Uh... yeah. Those were some crazy times!
Yeah, uh... threatening me with psychoactive medication is not a good way to make me buy a ticket to the future.
Resistance is illogical, you will be upgraded.
I take it you read "Transmetropolitan?" I don't think that particular reference case is very likely.
I have not read that (*googles*) series of comic books.
I thought "I'm so embarrassed I could die" was just a figure of speech. You weren't convinced by Eliezer's post? Do you think signing up for cryonics will get you ostracized from your social circles? Besides the two witnesses on some of the forms, nobody will know unless you tell them or flaunt your ID tags. Are there no two people who you are willing to trust with a secret?
...This has nothing to do with embarrassment. The problem isn't that people will stop being my friend over it, the problem is that they will all die and then the best case scenario will be that I will wake up in a bright new future completely alone.

I'm actually still confused. That doesn't sound like 'Extrovert Hell'. Extroverts would just make a ton of new friends straight away. A lone introvert would have more trouble. Sure, it would be an Extrovert Very Distressing Two Weeks, but death is like that. (Adjust 'two weeks' to anything up to a decade depending on how vulnerable to depression you believe you will be after you are revived.)

I honestly do not think I'd last two weeks. If I go five conscious hours without having a substantial conversation with somebody I care about, I feel like I got hit by a brick wall. I'm pretty sure I only survived my teens because I had a pesky sister who prevented me from spending too long in psychologically self-destructive seclusion.
7Eliezer Yudkowsky
This sounds like an unrealistically huge discount rate. To be precise, you anticipate: (a) One week of being really unhappy while you go through the process of making new friends (perhaps with someone else who's really unhappy for similar reasons). I assume here that you do not find the process of "making a new friend" to be itself enjoyable enough to compensate. I also suspect that you would start getting over the psychological shock almost immediately, but let's suppose it actually does take until you've made a friend deep enough to have intimate conversations with, and let's suppose that this does take a whole week. (b) N years of living happily ever after. It's really hard to see how the former observer-moments outweigh the latter observer-moments. I think it's this that commenters are probably trying to express when they wonder if you're thinking in the mode we name "rational": it seems more like a decision made by mentally fleeing from the sheer terror of imagining the worst possible instant of the worst possible scenario, than any choice made by weighing and balancing. I also tend to think of cryonics as a prophylactic for freak occurrences rather than inevitable death of old age, meaning that if you sign up now and then have to get suspended in the next 10 years for some reason, I'd rate a pretty good chance that you wake up before all your friends are dead of old age. But that shouldn't even be an issue. As soon as you weigh a week against N years, it looks pretty clear that you're not making your decision around the most important stakes in the balance. I know you don't endorse consequentialism, but it seems to me that this is just exactly the sort of issue where careful verbal thinking really does help people in real life, a lot - when people make decisions by focusing on one stake that weighs huge in their thoughts but obviously isn't the most important stake, where here the stakes are "how I (imagine) feeling in the very first instant of waking up
I think that the distress would itself inhibit me in my friend-making attempts. It is a skill that I have to apply, not a chemical reaction where if you put me in a room with a friendly stranger and stir, poof, friendship.

Um... would I deeply offend you if I suggested that, perhaps, your worst fears and nightmares are not 100% reflective of what would actually happen in reality? I mean, what you're saying here is that if you wake up without friends, you'll be so shocked and traumatized that you'll never make any friends again ever, despite any future friend-finding or friend-making-prediction software that could potentially be brought to bear. You're saying that your problem here is unsolvable in the long run by powers up to and including Friendly superintelligence and it just doesn't seem like THAT LEVEL of difficulty. Or you're saying that the short-run problem is so terrible, so agonizing, that no amount of future life and happiness can compensate for it, and once again it just doesn't seem THAT BAD. And I've already talked about how pitting verbal thought against this sort of raw fear really is one of those places where rationality excels at actually improving our lives.

Are you sure this is your true rejection or is there something even worse waiting in the wings?

I'm making projections based on psychological facts about myself. Anticipating being friendless and alone makes me unhappy all by itself; but I do have some data on how I get when it actually happens. I don't think I would be able to bring to bear these clever solutions if that happened (to the appropriate greater magnitude). I do consider this a problem, so I am actively trying to arrange to have someone I'd find suitable signed up (in either direction would work for). This is probably a matter of time, since my top comment here did yield responses. I'd bet you money, if you like, that (barring financial disaster on my part) I'll be signed up within the next two years.
I asked this elsewhere, but I'll ask again: what if the unhappiness and distress caused by the lack of friends could suddenly just disappear? If you could voluntarily suppress it, or stop suppressing it? There will almost certainly be technology in a post-revival future to let you do that, and you could wake up with that ability already set up.
This is an interesting point to consider, and I'm one who's offered a lot of reasons to not sign up for cryonics. For the record, a lower bound on my "true rejection" is "I'd sign up if it was free".
What about this: leave instructions with your body to not revive you until there is technology that would allow you to temporarily voluntarily suppress your isolation anxiety until you got adjusted to the new situation and made some friends. If you don't like how extraverted you are, you don't have to put up with it after you get revived.
But the availability of such technology would not coincide with my volunteering to use it.
Would you be opposed to using it? Would you be opposed to not returning to consciousness until the technology had been set up for you (i.e. installed in your mind), so it would be immediately available?
I assign a negligible probability that there exists some way I'd find acceptable of achieving this result. It sounds way creepy to me.
I find that surprising. (I don't mean to pass judgment at all. Values are values.) Would you call yourself a transhumanist? I wonder how many such people have creepy feelings about mind modifications like that. I would have thought it's pretty small, but now I'm not sure. I wonder if reading certain fiction tends to change that attitude.
I would call myself a transhumanist, yes. Humans suck, let's be something else - but I would want such changes to myself to be very carefully understood by me first, and if at all possible, directed from the inside. I mentioned elsewhere that I'd try cognitive exercises if someone proposed them. Brain surgery or drugs or equivalents, though, I am not open to without actually learning what the heck they'd entail (which would take more than the critical time period absent other unwelcome intervention), and these are the ones that seem captured by "technology".
Hmm. What I had in mind isn't something I would call brain surgery. It would be closer to a drug. My idea (pretty much an "outlook" from Egan's Diaspora) is that your mind would be running in software, in a huge neuron simulator, and that the tech would simply inhibit the output of certain, targeted networks in your brain or enhance others. This would obviously be much more targeted than inert drugs could achieve. (I guess you might be able to achieve this in a physical brain with nanotech.) I'm not sure if this changes your intuition any. Perhaps you would still be uncomfortable with it without understanding it first. But if you trust the people who would be reviving you to not torture and enslave you, you could conceivably leave enough detailed information about your preferences for you to trust them as a first-cut proxy on the mind modification decision. (Though that could easily be infeasible.) Or perhaps you could instruct them to extrapolate from your brain whether you would eventually approve of the modification, if the extrapolation wouldn't create a sentient copy of you. (I'm not sure if that's possible, but it might be.)
I trust the inhabitants of the future not to torture and enslave me. I don't trust them not to be well-intentioned evil utilitarians who think nothing of overriding my instructions and preferences if that will make me happy. So I'd like to have the resources to be happy without anybody having to be evil to me.
But that wouldn't be making you happy. It'd be making someone very much like you happy, but someone you wouldn't have ever matured into. (You may still care that the latter person isn't created, or not want to pay for cryonics just for the latter person to be created; that's not the point.) I doubt that people in the future will have so much disregard for personal identity and autonomy that they would make such modifications to you. Do you think they would prevent someone from committing suicide? If they would make unwanted modifications to you before reviving you, why wouldn't they be willing to make modifications to unconsenting living people*? They would see your "do not revive unless..." instructions as a suicide note. * Perhaps because they view you as a lower life form for which more paternalism is warranted than for normal transhuman. Of course that's not a strong argument. If you want to be that cautious, you can.
I don't. I wouldn't be very surprised to wake up modified in some popular way. I'm protecting the bits of me that I especially want safe. Maybe. Who says they're not? (Or: Maybe living people are easier to convince.)
How about a scenario where they gave you something equivalent to a USB port, and the option to plug in an external, trivially removable module that gave you more conscious control over your emotional state but didn't otherwise affect your emotions? That still involves brain surgery (to install the port), but it doesn't really seem to be in the same category as current brain surgery at all.
Hmmm. That might work. However, the ability to conceptualize one way to achieve the necessary effect doesn't guarantee that it's ever going to be technically feasible. I can conceptualize various means of faster-than-light travel, too; it isn't obliged to be physically possible.
I suspect I have a more complete and reality-connected model of how such a system might work than you have of ftl. :) I'm basically positing a combination of more advanced biofeedback and non-pleasure-center-based wireheading, for the module: You plug it in, and it starts showing you readings for various systems, like biofeedback does, so that you can pinpoint what's causing the problem on a physical level. Actually using the device would stimulate relevant brain-regions, or possibly regulate more body-based components of emotion like heart- and breathing-rate and muscle tension (via the brain regions that normally do that), or both. I'm also assuming that there would be considerable protection against accidentally stimulating either the pleasure center or the wanting center, to preclude abuse, if they even make those regions stimulateable in the first place.
Of course I know how FTL works! It involves hyperspace! One gets there via hyperdrive! Then one can get from place to place hyper-fast! It's all very hyper! *ahem* You have a point. But my more emotionally satisfying solution seems to be fairly promising. I'll turn this over in my head more and it may serve as a fallback.
Wow. That isn't an exaggerating? Is that what normal extraverts are like or are you an outlier. So hard to imagine.
That seems like a fairly extreme outlier to me. I'm an extrovert, and for me that appears to mean simply that I prefer activities in which I interact with people to activities where I don't interact with people.
Nope, not exaggerating. I say "five hours" because I timed it. I don't know if I'm an outlier or not; most of my friends are introverts themselves.
Sounds like "five hours" might be something worth the pain of practicing to extend. Maybe not for you, but outlier time-brittle properties like that in me worry me.
Refraining from pushing the five hour limit harder than I have to is a very important part of my mood maintenance, which lets me not be on drugs, in danger of hurting myself, or just plain unhappy all the time. The farther I let myself get, the harder it is to muster the motivation to use my recovery strategies, and the longer they take to work.
From my point of view this state of being seems unstable and unhealthy. I cannot imagine having my personal state of mind being so reliant on others. I love having a good conversation with a friend. But I could also probably go for weeks without having such a thing. Probably the longest I've been alone is a week and I enjoyed it. I can't see from your viewpoint, but from my viewpoint you should do everything in your power to change how reliant you are on others. It seems like if you are so reliant on others that you are going to, consciously or not, change your values and beliefs merely to ensure that you have people who you can associate with.
I'm dependent on many things, and the ability to chat with people is one of the easiest to ensure among them. If I decide that I'm too dependent on external factors, I think I'll kick the brie habit before I try to make my friends unnecessary. I'm not sure whence your concern that I'll change my values and beliefs to ensure that I have people I can associate with. I'd consider it really valuable evidence that something was wrong with my values and beliefs if nobody would speak to me because of them. That's not the case - I have plenty of friends and little trouble making more when the opportunity presents itself - so I'm not sure why my beliefs and values might need to shift to ensure my supply.
Perhaps I misunderstood what your "dependency" actually is. If your dependency was that you really need people to approve of you (a classic dependency and the one I apparently wrongly assumed), then it seems like your psyche is going to be vastly molded by those around you. If your dependency is one of human contact, than the pressure to conform would probably me much less of a thing to worry about. I would like to address your first paragraph..."making your friends unnecessary" isn't what I suggested. What I had in mind was making them not so necessary that you have to have contact with them every few hours. Anyway, it's all academic now, because if you don't think it's a problem, I certainly don't think it's a problem. ETA: I did want to point out that I have changed over time. During my teenage years I was constantly trying to be popular and get others to like me. Now, I'm completely comfortable with being alone and others thinking I'm wrong or weird.
Well, I like approval. But for the purposes of not being lonely, a heated argument will do!
If you cannot so imagine then perhaps making judgements on what is 'unhealthy' for a person that does rely so acutely on others may not be entirely reliable. If someone clearly has a different neurological makeup it can be objectionable to either say they should act as you do or that they should have a different neurological makeup. It is absolutely fascinating to me to see the 'be more like me' come from the less extroverted to the extrovert.
Well, in fairness, my particular brand of extroversion really is more like a handicap than a skill. The fact that I need contact has made me, through sheer desperation and resulting time devoted to practice, okay at getting contact; but that's something that was forced, not enabled, by my being an extrovert.
Definitely. It could get you killed. It had me wondering, for example, if the ~5 hours figure is highly context dependent: You are on a hike with a friend and 12 hours from civilisation. Your friend breaks a leg. He is ok, but unable to move far and in need of medical attention. You need to get help. Does the fact that every step you take is bound up in your dear friend's very survival help at all? Or is the brain like "No! Heroic symbolic connection sucks. Gimme talking or physical intimacy now. 5 hours I say!"? (No offence meant by mentioning a quirk of your personality as a matter of speculative curiosity. I just know the context and nature of isolation does make a difference to me, even though it takes around 5 weeks for such isolation to cause noticeable degradation of my sanity.) If it was my handicap I would be perfectly fine with an FAI capping any distress at, say, the level you have after 3 hours. Similarly, if I was someone who was unable to endure 5 consecutive hours of high stimulus social exposure without discombobulating I would want to have that weakness removed. But many people object to being told that their natural state is unhealthy or otherwise defective and in need of repair and I consider that objection a valid one.
I would certainly endure the discomfort involved in saving my friend in the scenario you describe. I'd do the same thing if saving my friend involved an uncomfortable but non-fatal period of time without, say, water, food, or sleep. That doesn't mean my brain wouldn't report on its displeasure with the deprivation while I did so.
water ~ few days food ~ a few weeks sleep ~ a few days social contact ~ a handful of hours Water depends on temperature, food on exertion both mental and physical. I speculate if the context influenced the rate of depletion in similar manner.
I very intentionally had qualifiers a-many in my comment to try and make it apparent that I wasn't "judging" Alicorn. "I cannot imagine" is perhaps the wrong phrase. "I find it hard to imagine" would be better, I think. Perhaps I'm crazy, but I don't think pointing out the disadvantages of the way someone thinks/feels is or should be objectionable. If someone differs from me in what kind of vegetables taste good, or if they like dry humor, or whatever, I'm not going to try and tell them they may want to rethink their position. There's no salient disadvantages to those sort of things. If Alicorn had said, "I really prefer human contact and I just get a little uncomfortable without it after 5 hours" I wouldn't have even brought it up. If someone has a trait that does have particular disadvantages, I just don't see how discussing it with them is objectionable. Perhaps the person to say whether it's objectionable would be Alicorn. :)
I also think it's extremely disproportionate to die because the old friends are gone. A post FAI world would be a Nice Enough Place that they will not even remotely mistreat you and you will not remotely regret your signing up.

the best case scenario will be that I will wake up in a bright new future completely alone.

Because the last time you woke up in a brand-new world with no friends turned out so badly?

If you're talking about how I have no prior experience with revival, all I can say is that I have to make plans for the future based on what predictions (however poor) I can make now. If you're talking about how I was born and that turned out okay, I have... y'know.. parents.
For many people, parents are a neutral or net negative presence. But alright. If you had to choose between being born to an orphanage and not being born - a situation which is symmetrical as far as I can see to your objection to cryonics - would you choose to not be born?
That depends on the circumstances which would have led to me being born to an orphanage. If somebody is going around creating people willy-nilly out of genetic material they found lying around, uh, no, please stop them, I'd be okay with not having been born. If I'm an accident and happened to have a pro-life mother in this hypothetical... well, the emphasis in pro-choice is "choice", so in that case it depends whether someone would swoop in and prevent my birth against her will or whether she would change her mind. In the latter case, the abortion doctor has my blessing. In the former case, (s)he hasn't, but only because I don't think medically elective surgery should be performed on unwilling patients, not because I think the lives of accidental fetuses are particularly valuable. If I was conceived by a stable, loving, child-wanting couple and my hypothetical dad was hit by a bus during my gestation and my mom died in childbirth, then I'd be okay with being born as opposed to not being born.
If you don't like being alone in the bright new future you can always off yourself. Or try to make friends with other recently-revived cryonicists. That's what extroverts are good at, right?
That would be a fine way to spend money, wouldn't it, paying them to not let me die only for me to predictably undo their work?
My comment about suicide was a joke to contrast my recommendation: make friends. I think you assign high probability to all of the following: 1. None of your current friends will ever sign up for cryonics. 2. You won't make friends with any current cryonicists. 3. You won't make friends after being revived. 4. Your suicidal neediness will be incurable by future medicine. Please correct me if I'm wrong. If you think any of those are unlikely and you think cryonics will work, then you should sign up by yourself.
1. Yeah. Even though a couple of them have expressed interest, there is a huge leap from being interested to actually signing up. 2. This is my present plan. We'll see if it works. 3. I'm not willing to bet on this. 4. I do not want my brain messed with. If I expected to arrive in a future that would mess with my brain without my permission, I would not want to go there.
6Eliezer Yudkowsky
I have to say, if 3 fails, I would tend to downvote that future pretty strongly. We seem to have very different ideas of what a revival-world will and should look like, conditional on revival working at all.
I was including a "promptly enough" in the "will make friends" thing. I'm sure that, if I could stay alive and sane long enough, I'd make friends. I don't think I could stay alive and sane and lonely long enough to make close enough friends without my brain being messed with (not okay) or me being forcibly prevented from offing myself (not fond of this either).
4Eliezer Yudkowsky
If your life were literally at stake and I were a Friendly AI, I bet I could wake you up next to someone who could become fast friends with you within five hours. It doesn't seem like a weak link in the chain, let alone the weakest one.
It is the most terrifying link in the chain. Most of the other links, if they break, just look like a dead Alicorn, not a dead Alicorn who killed herself in a fit of devastating, miserable starvation for personal connection. If you thought it was reasonably likely that, given the success of cryonics, you'd be obliged to live without something you'd presently feel suicidal without (I'm inclined to bring up your past analogy of sex and heroin fix here, but substitute whatever works for you), would you be so gung-ho?
8Eliezer Yudkowsky
I could sorta understand this if we were talking about one person you couldn't live without, it's the idea of worrying about not having any deep friends in general that's making me blink. Some people are convinced they'll have to live without the strangest things after the Singularity... having encountered something possibly similar before, I do seriously wonder if you might be suffering from a general hope-in-the-future deficiency. PS/Edit: Spider Robinson's analogy, not mine.
If you were the friendly AI and Alicorn failed to make a fast friend as predicted and that resulted in suicidal depression, would that depression be defined as mental illness and treated as such? Would recent wake-ups have the right to commit suicide? I think that's an incredibly hard question so please don't answer if you don't want to. Have you written anything on suicide in the metaethics sequence or elsewhere?
And the relevant question extends to the assumption behind the phrase 'and treated as such'. Do people have the right to be nuts in general?
I suppose having to rigorously prove the mathematics behind these questions is why Eliezer is so much more pessimistic about the probability of AI killing us than I am.
I have only managed to live without particular persons who've departed from my life for any reason by virtue of already having other persons to console me. That said, there are a handful of people whose loss would trouble me especially terribly, but I could survive it with someone else around to grieve with.
I would think that the corporate reviving you would be either a foundation of your family, a general charity organization or a fan club of yours (Don't laugh! There are fan clubs for super stars in India. Extend it further in the future and each LW commentor might have a fan club.) Since you will be, relatively speaking, an early adopter of cryonics, you will be relatively, a late riser. Cryonics goes LIFO, if I understand it correctly. I'm pretty sure now that your fears are explicitly stated in a public forum, they are on the record for almost all eternity and they will be given sufficient consideration by those reviving you. Eliezer has already presented one solution. A make-do best friend who can be upgraded to sentience whenever need be. A simpler solution will be a human child, holding your palm and saying "I'm your great great grand child". Are you still sure you'll still not care enough? (Dirty mind hack, I understand, but terribly easy to implement)
Probably worth backing up though, in the form of a stone tablet adjacent to your body.
0Paul Crowley
Alcor do keep some of your stuff in a secret location, but given problems with data retrieval from old media it might be good if they offered an explicit service to store your data - which I'd expect them to defer to providers like Amazon, but handle the long-term problems of moving to new providers as the need arises, and of decryption only on revival.
I would take the "I'm your great great grandchild" solution in a heartbeat - but I do not already have children, and something could still come up to prevent me from having them (and hence great great grandchildren).
If you'd take that solution, why not a great great ... great grand niece? Or distant cousin? Any human child of that time will be related to you at some remove.
My sister doesn't have children yet either, and may or may not in the future. It does matter if they're a relation I'd ever be disposed to see at Christmas, which has historically bottomed out with second cousins.
Then it looks like I misunderstood. Say you have a child, then get preserved (though no one else you know does). Then say you wake up, it's 500 years in the future, and you meet your great (great ... great) great grandchild, someone you would never have seen at Christmas otherwise. Would this satisfy you? If so, then you don't have to worry. You will have relatives alive when you're revived. Even if they're descendants of cousins or second cousins. And since it will be 500 years in the future, you are equally likely to see your cousin's 2510 descendant and your 2510 descendant at Christmas (that is, not at all).
If I had a child, I'd sign up me and said child simultaneously - problem solved right there. There's no need to postulate any additional descendants to fix my dilemma. I can't get enthusiastic about second cousins 30 times removed. I wouldn't expect to have even as much in common with them as I have in common with my second cousins now (with whom I can at least swap reminisces about prior Christmases and various relatives when the situation calls for it).
You can't guarantee that your child will go through with it, even if you sign em up. Then why can you get enthusiastic about a great great grandchild born after you get frozen?
I can't guarantee it, no, but I can be reasonably sure - someone signed up from birth (with a parent) would not have the usual defense mechanisms blocking the idea. Direct descent seems special to me.
I find this thread fascinating. I can usually think about something enough and change my feelings about it through reason. For example, if I thought "direct descent seems special", I could think about all the different ideas like the questions Blueberry asks and change my actual emotions about the subject. I suspect this comes from my guilty pleasure...I glee at biting-the-bullet. Is this not the case with you?
I do not have a reliable ability to change my emotional reactions to things in a practically useful time frame.
If you want make friends with cryonicists, sign up. For every one person I meet who is signed up, I hear excuses from ten others: It won't work. It will work but I could be revived and tortured by an evil AI. The freezing process could cause insanity. It'll probably work but I've been too lazy to sign up. I'm so needy I'll kill myself without friends. Etc. It gets old really fast.
Wow, calling me names has made me really inclined to take advice from you. I'll get right on that, since you're so insightful about my personal qualities and must know the best thing to do in this case, too.
Are you supposed to be the extrovert in the 'extrovert hell' scenario? Extroverts generally don't have trouble finding new friends, or fear a situation where they find themselves surrounded by strangers.
I'm the extrovert, yes. In the sense of needing people, not in the sense of finding them easy to be around (I have a friend who finds it fantastically amusing to call herself a social introvert and me an antisocial extrovert, which is a fair enough description). I actually get very little value from interacting with strangers, especially in large groups. I need people who I'm reasonably close to in order to accomplish anything, and that takes some time to build up to. None of my strategies for making new friends will be present in a no-pre-reviv-friends-or-family wake-up scenario.
If the choice were available, would you change any of that?
I think that would depend heavily on the mechanism by which it'd be changed. I'd try cognitive exercises or something to adjust the value I get from strangers and large groups; I don't want to be drugged.
Hmm, ok. I'd say you're using 'extrovert' in a fairly non-standard way but I think I understand what you're saying now.
I think of an extrovert as someone who recharges by being around other people, and an introvert as someone who recharges by being alone, regardless of social proclivity or ability.
"I make new friends easily" is one of the standard agree/disagree statements used to test for extraversion which is why I find this usage a little unusual.
But it's not the only agree/disagree statement on the test, right?
No, it seems Alicorn's usage of extrovert is valid. It is just not what I'd previously understood by the word. The 'makes friends easily' part of extrovert is the salient feature of extraversion for me.
It's all on an introvert/extrovert test, but to me the salient feature of extroversion is finding interaction with others energizing and finding being alone draining. Introverts find it tiring to interact with others and they find being alone energizing, on a continuous spectrum. I fall in the dead center on an introvert/extrovert test; I'm not sure how uncommon that is.
(Although naturally there tends to be a correlation with the latter two.)
Maybe you could specify that you only want to be revived if some of your friends are alive.
I'll certainly do that on signup; but if I don't think that condition will ever obtain, it'd be a waste.
I'm pretty sure you will have friends and relatives living in 2070. Do you think it'll be more than 60 years before cryonics patients are revived? Do you think it'll be more than 60 years before we can reverse aging?
I think it is reasonably likely that those tasks will take longer than that, yes.

"If you don't sign up your kids for cryonics then you are a lousy parent. If you aren't choosing between textbooks and food, then you can afford to sign up your kids for cryonics."

This is flat-out classism. The fact is, the only reason I'm not choosing between textbooks or food is that the US government has deemed me poor enough to qualify for government grant money for my higher education. And even that doesn't leave me with enough money to afford a nice place to live AND a car with functioning turn signals AND quality day-care for my child while I'm at work AND health insurance for myself.

Shaming parents into considering cryonics is a low blow indeed. Instead of sneering at those of us who cannot be supermom/dad, why not spend your time preparing a persuasive case for the scientific community to push for a government-sponsored cryonics program? Otherwise the future will be full of those lucky enough to be born into privileged society: the Caucasian, white-collar, English-speaking segment of the population, and little else. What a bland vision for humanity.

Response voted up in the hopes that it shames comfortable middle-class parents into signing up their kids for cryonics. Which will, if enough people do it, make cryonics cheaper even if there is no government program. Or eventually get a private charity started to help make it affordable, which is far more likely than a government program, though still unlikely.


Well, crap. That's something I hadn't even thought of yet.

I'm currently struggling with actually signing up for cryonics myself so this angle hadn't even crossed my mind.

I'll face very strong opposition from my wife, family, and friends when I finally do sign up. I can't imagine what kind of opposition I'll face when I attempt to sign my 3-month old daughter up.

I've been planning a top-level post about the rational thing to do when you're in my position. What position you ask? You'll find out in my post. Suffice it to say for now that I don't think I'm a typical member of the LW community.

I, for one, look forward to reading your post.

If Eliezer's post has motivated you, I encourage you to write it soon before that motivation fades.


Point taken. Writing commenced.

If you've written this article already [and I imagine you have], it would be helpful to put a link to it in this comment thread.
I'm still working on this post, but writing it has become more difficult than I anticipated. Much of what I want to say is things that I would like to remain private for now. When I say "private", I mean I don't mind them being connected with my LW user account, but I'd rather they weren't connected with my real life and since they're unique sort of things, and my real name is also my LW user name, I'm having difficulty with anonymizing the content of the post.
What flavor of opposition do you anticipate? "selfish", "won't work/wasteful", or "weird"? If it is the former, you might consider the tactic of signing up your daughter first. (I have comments further down in this thread about the odds for cryonics and changes in my views over time.)
The opposition I got when I told my parents that there is such a thing was that they didn't want to wake up as machines. I think they didn't agree that they'll be the same person. Combine that with the uncertainty that you'll be frozen, the uncertainty that you'll wake up, the chance of Blue Gender, and of course, the cost, and it stops being such an obvious decision. Blue Gender is probably the biggest factor for me. *Blue Gender is an anime about a kid who signed up for cryonics, and woke up while being evacuated from fugly giant insects.God forbid. But even you guys suggest that FAI has a 1% chance of success or so. Is it so great to die, be reborn, and die AGAIN?
Be careful about evidence from fiction. Let's see... What are the chances of you being revived without AGI? It's possible, but probably less likely for a variety of reasons (without AGI, it's harder to reach that technological level, and without AGI, it's harder for humanity to survive long enough (because of existential risks) to get to that technological level in the first place, etc). But that's not all. If this AGI isn't Certified Friendly, the chances of humanity surviving for very long after it starts recursively improving are also pretty slim. So chances are, if you are woken up, it'll be in a world with FAI. If things go really bad, you'd probably never find out... Am I making up a just-so story here? Do others think this makes sense?
The possibility of being woken up by an UFAI might be regarded as a good reason to avoid cryonics.
From what I know, the danger of UFAI isn't that such an AI would be evil like in fiction (anthropomorphized AIs), but rather that it wouldn't care about us and would want to use resources to achieve goals other than what humans would want ("all that energy and those atoms, I need them to make more computronium, sorry"). I suppose it's possible to invent many scenarios where such an evil AI would be possible, but it seems unlikely enough based on the information that I have now that I wouldn't gamble a chance at life (versus a certain death) based on this sci-fi plot. But if you are scared of UFAI, you can do something now by supporting FAI research. It might actually be more likely for us to face a UFAI within our current lives than after being woken up from cryonic preservation (since just the fact of being woken up is probably a positive sign of FAI).
I presume he was referring to disutopias and wireheading scenarios that he could hypothetically consider worse than death.
That was my understanding, but I think that any world in which there is an AGI that isn't Friendly probably won't be very stable. If that happens, I think there's a lot more chances that humanity will be destroyed quickly and you won't be woken up than that a stable but "worse than death" world will form and decide to wake you up. But maybe I'm missing something that makes such "worse than death" worlds plausible.
I think you're right. The main risk would be Friendly to Someone Else AI.
I hope so. Most UFAI scenarios so far suggested, IIRC, end with everyone either dead or as mindless blobs of endless joy (which may or may not be the same thing, but I'd pick wireheading over death). But remember that the UFAI's designers, stupid though they may be, will be unlikely to forget "thou shalt not kill featherless bipeds with straight nails". So there's a disturbing and non-negligible chance of waking up in Christian heaven. Edit: So after all this, does cryonics still sound like a good idea? If yes, why? I really, really WANT there to be reasons to sign up. I want to see that world without traffic jams or copyright lawyers. But I'm just not convinced, and that's depressing.
Or in "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect".
Prime Intellect was like this close to being Friendly.
4Eliezer Yudkowsky
Yep, you've got to get your AI like 99.8% right for it to go wrong that way.
And given Lawrence's 42 years of life after reverting the change why ever did he not work on getting another 0.199% right? In fact, what was Caroline thinking reverting the change before they had solid plan for post Prime-Intellect survival? Fictional characters and their mortality fetishes. Pah.
The correct interpretation of the ending (based on the excerpt from the sequel posted and an interview localroger did with an Australian radio/podcast host) is that Caroline did not really revert the change; Prime Intellect remained in control of the universe. http://www.kuro5hin.org/prime-intellect/mopidnf.html
"The Change" was keeping humans in a simulation of the universe (and turning the actual universe into computronium) instead of in the universe itself. So when it "reversed the Change" it was still as powerful as it was before the Change. What had happened was that Prime Intellect had been convinced that the post-Change world it created was not the best way of achieving its goals, so it set up a different universe. (I imagine that, as of chapter 8, Prime Intellect's current plan for humanity is something like Buddhist-style reincarnation - after all, its highest priority is to prevent human deaths.)
Actually, I'm more tempted to say that he was friendly, just not generally intelligent enough. Some of the humans seemed really silly, though... I've no idea what extrapolated volition would mean in a population with that many freaks :-)
I agree. Prime Intellect is absolutely friendly in that most important sense of caring about the continued existence and well-being of humans. It was a good story, but I'm not sure that humans would have actually behaved as in that universe. Or we only saw a small subset of that universe. For example, we saw no one make themselves exponentially smarter. No one cloned themselves. No people merged consciousnesses. No one tried to convince Prime Intellect to reactivate the aliens inside of a zoo that allowed them to exist and for humanity to interact with them, without the danger of the aliens gaining control of Technology. If I could choose between waiting around for Eliezer to make Friendly AI (or fail), I would choose the universe of Prime Intellect in a heartbeat. I don't see why Fun Theory doesn't apply there.

I've written a 2000 word blog article on my efforts to find the best anti-cryonics writing I can:

A survey of anti-cryonics writing

Edit: now a top level article

An excellent post. I have one issue, though. It may be poor form to alter your opening paragraph at this stage, Paul, but I'd appreciate it if you did. While it makes a very good 'hook' for those of us inclined to take cryonics seriously, it means that posting a link for other friends (as I'd otherwise do) will have the opposite effect than it should. (I am fairly sure that a person inclined to be suspicious of cryonics would read the first few lines only, departing in the knowledge that their suspicions were confirmed.) An introduction that is at first glance equivocal would be a great improvement over one that is at first glance committed to the anti-cryonics viewpoint, for that reason.
0Paul Crowley
Thanks! I am inclined to agree, but I can't work out how. I found it pretty difficult to get started writing that, and that way seemed to work. If you can give me any more specific ideas on how best to fix it, I might well try. Have saved first version in version control!
Suggested edits: * turn the opening sentence into a question, "Is cryonics pseudoscience ?" * change "is nothing more than wishful thinking" into "could be nothing more", etc. * change "If you don't believe that, you can read" into "This is the point of view argued in" * strike "This makes me sad, because", so the sentence starts "To my naive eyes" This way your hook is neutral enough to draw everyone in. ETA: I would be careful with the £25/mo quote, until and unless you get a quote from Rudi Hoffman or elsewhere. At least mention that the pricing is one of those logistical issues you've promised to cover in further posts.
Suggested edit:
0Paul Crowley
I did something like this in the end.
The Feynman anecdote actually seems to me like the best place to begin, both for literary interest and for a clearer introduction. If you started there, you could take the rest of that paragraph almost unchanged (inserting the parenthetical definition of cryonics from your current first paragraph) before introducing the skeptics' links and continuing as before?
0Paul Crowley
Just had a go, but I can't quite make it work; the skeptic's links seem hard to introduce.
0Eliezer Yudkowsky
Top-level post it
8Eliezer Yudkowsky
Me too. This is not just about cryonics. It is not remotely just about cryonics. It is about the general quality of published argument that you can expect to find against a true contrarian idea, as opposed to a false contrarian idea.
I now want to go and look for the pre-chemistry arguments against alchemy. I don't think that cryonics is inherently wrong, but equally I don't think we have a theory or language of identity and mind sufficiently advanced to refute it.
You know, I did a lot of reading about alchemy when I was younger, and when I try to think back to contemporary criticisms (and there was a lot, alchemy was very disreputable), they all seem to boil down to 1) no alchemists have yet succeeded despite lavish funding, and they are all either failures or outright conmen like Casanova; and 2) alchemical immortality is overreaching and against God. #1 is pretty convincing but not directly applicable (cryonics since the 1970s has met its self-defined goal of keeping patients cold); #2 strikes me as false, but I also regard the similar anti-cryonics arguments as false.
1David M. Brown
The goal is to stay cold? I thought it was to be resurrected by science that will be able to cure all.
1Paul Crowley
I've posted a link to my blog at the moment; do you think it's better that the entire article be included here?
1Eliezer Yudkowsky
0Paul Crowley
Have a karma point.

To me cryonics causes a stark panic inducing terror that is only alittle less than death itself and I would never in a million years do it if I used my own judgment on the matter but I decided that Eliezer probably knows more than me on this subject and that I should trust his judgement above my own. So i am in the process of signing up now. Seems much less expensive than I imagined also.

This is at least one skill I have tried to cultivate until I grew more educated myself; the ability to export my judgement consciously to another person. Thinking for yourself is great to learn new things and practice thinking skills but since I am just starting out I am trying to build solid mindset so its kinda silly for me to think I can provide one to myself by myself without tons wasted effort when I could just use one of the good ones that are already available.

I would probably be more likely to try such a thing if I was younger but I am getting started abit late and need a leg up. Though I do guess the idea is abit risky but on an inituitve level it seems less risky than trusting my own judgement which is generally scared of everything. Yep.

I believe Eliezer has been assimilated.
"The only two legitimate occupations in our current world are (1) working directly on Singularity-related issues, and (2) donate a substantial fraction of your money to the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence."* -- "If you don't sign up your kids for cryonics then you are a lousy parent." -- Eliezer Yudkowsky Hah! If I only had more faith in Mr. Yudkowsky' judgement. Or otherwise be an educated smart ass, like most people on lesswrong.com, so I could estimate how credible these extraordinary statements are. Anyway, I'll probably donate something to the SIAI sooner or later. I'd also sign up for cryonics if I wouldn't live in Germany and be not as 'lazy' as I am. Though at some point I might try to do so. * http://vimeo.com/8586168

Curiously -- not indignantly -- how should I interpret your statement that all but a handful of parents are "lousy"? Does this mean that your values are different from theirs? This might be what is usually meant when someone says someone is "lousy".

Your explicit argument seems to be that they're selfish if they're purchasing fleeting entertainment when they could invest that money in cryonics for their children. However, if they don't buy cryonics for themselves, either, it seems like cryonics is something they don't value, not that they're too selfish to buy it for their children.

Eliezer is criticizing parents who in principle think that cryonics is a good thing, but don't get it for their children, whether or not they get it for themselves. My guess is that such parents are much more common than parents who buy it for themselves but not for their children, just because "thinking that cryonics is good in principle" is much more common than actually buying it for yourself.
Exactly. If a parent doesn't think cryonics makes sense, then they wouldn't get it for their kids anyways. Eliezer's statement can only criticize parents who get cryonics for themselves but not their children. This is a small group, and I assume it is not the one he was targeting.

Eliezer--don't know how many people reading this had the same response I did, but you tore my heart out.

As Nick Bostrom Ph.D. Director of the Oxford Future of Humanity institute, Co-founder of the World Transhumanist Association said about my book "21st Century Kids" "Childhood should be fun and so should the future. Read this to your children, and next you know they'll demand a cryonics contract for Christmas."

You know, I do what I can to educate others to the fact that cryonics is possible, and thus there is the common sense obligation to try. For me it is a noble endeavor that humans are attempting, I'm proud to help that effort. If you do a search on "teaching kids cryonics" you'll get: http://www.depressedmetabolism.com/2008/07/04/teaching-children-about-cryonics/ from a few years ago. I still do classes when I can, I've been talking to my children's friends and parents here in the UK after moving from Austin this past summer. The reception I get over here from parents and kids is generally the same as what I heard in the States--people express interest, but never really go through the effort of signing up.

I will be writing more, in the mea... (read more)

Sorry if this is a tedious question. Just started the conversation with my family in a more serious way after looking up life insurance prices (think it's going OK so far), and there's something I wanted to ask so that I know the answer if they ask. Do you have shares in Alcor or CI, or any other interests to declare?


As far as I know, there's currently no one on Earth who gets paid when another cryonicist signs up, except Rudi Hoffman who sells the life insurance. I'll go ahead and state specifically that I have no shares in either of those nonprofits (nor does anyone, but they have paid employees) and I do not get paid a commission when anyone signs up (nor does anyone AFAIK except Rudi, and he's paid by the life insurance company).

4Paul Crowley
BTW, thanks for the reference to Hoffman. Looking at Hoffman's page about life assurance for non-US people it looks like for me cryonics is much, much more expensive than your estimates - he quotes $1500-$3000 a year. Talking to my friends reveals no cheaper options in the UK and big legal problems. I definitely will not be able to afford this barring a big change in my circumstances :(
I would really like someone to expand upon this:
Don't let the prices on that page discourage your from doing independent research. There might be life insurance providers in your areas that would have no problem naming Alcor or CI as the beneficiary and that could sell your enough life insurance to cover all costs for a lot less money than that. edit: I've just had a look, and I could get a 10-year term insurance for $200,000 for about $200/year. Definitely doesn't have to be many thousands.
This extrobrittania video contains some financial details about cryonics in the uk.
The estimate on that page is just that, an estimate. I'm awaiting an actual quote before making up my mind on the matter. Suggest you fill out the quote request form and contact him; if you do, I'd be interested in what you learned. I'm still waiting for word back myself. In France cryonics is actually illegal, which is more of a challenge. Bodies are to be buried or cremated within 6 days of death; I don't know if that's a reasonable window of opportunity for transport. What is the UK's position ? The decision tree for cryonics is complex at least. I was briefly tempted earlier today to look into software for argument mapping to expose my reasoning more clearly, if only for myself. Even if I ultimately confirm my intuition that it's what I want to do, the mapping would show more clearly which steps are critical to tackle and in what order.
1Paul Crowley
Oh, and an argument map for cryonics would be fantastic.
Existing cryonics argument maps: here. (I'll update this comment if I find more.)
I'm up for creating a more complete one than can currently be found on the Web. I'd appreciate some help in selecting some form of software support.
8Paul Crowley
Actually the difficulty is going to be in finding the opposition. I have scoured Google as best I can, asked my friends on my blog for help, and even emailed some prominent people who've spoken out against cryonics, looking for the best anti-cryonics articles I can find. It is really astonishing that the pickings are so slim. You'd think there would be at least one blogger with medical knowledge who occasionally posted articles that tried to rebut things that cryonicists actually say, for example; I haven't found it.
I'm not sure what a broad search for objections really buys you. From my perspective there is a "basic cryonics scenario" and a smallish number of variants. If you pick a scenario which is a good compromise between maximally plausible and maximally inconvenient, you should flush out most of the key points where things can go wrong. The basic scenario might be something like this: * I sign up for cryonics and life insurance * I keep up with my payments for a few years * I get run over by a car * I am rushed to the hospital and die there * I am transferred to the care of a funeral director in France * the required paperwork gets completed * my body is packed in ice and shipped by air to the US * I am prepared for suspension, sustaining inevitable damage * years pass, during which the facility stays viable * a revival procedure is developed and becomes cheap * surviving relatives fund my revival * I blink, smile and say "OK, let's go see what's changed" * I turn out to be the same person, continuous with the old me * that new life turns out to be enjoyable enough There are shorter alternative scenarios, such as the ones in which you pay for the insurance but never need it owing to life extension and other technology catching up faster than expected, so that you never actually execute your suspension contract. You'd turn up fewer reasons not to do it if you only examined those, so it makes sense to look at the scenario that exercises the greater number of options for things to go wrong. On the other hand, we shouldn't burden the scenario with extraneous details, such as major changes in the legal status of cryonics facilities, etc. These should be accounted for by a "background uncertainty" about what the relatively far future holds in store. The backbone of our argument map is that outline above, perhaps with more "near" details filled in as we go back over that insanely long discussion thread. The research articles are only likely to help us out wit
Here is a sketch of one made with bCisive online, the best of what I have evaluated so far. If you sign up it looks as if I can invite you in to edit collaboratively. It's easy to use and I find the visualization useful, but it bothers me that it's basically just a mind map, you can't add semantic information about how plausible you find various arguments. Another app with much the same characteristics is Debategraph. I have tried ArguNet, which is supposed to reconstruct logical structure, but the UI is unusable.
1Paul Crowley
The estimate is a range with a lower end. I may be able to afford it one day, in which case I don't want to piss him off by mucking him about before then. There's some evidence other options may be closer to reach; I haven't entirely given up yet. At the very least I'll have cleared a lot of the hurdles that people "cryocrastinate" about, like investigating the options and talking to family, making a later signup more likely.
Let me rephrase. Rudi Hoffman says it costs a minimum of $1500 a year. The quotes I have seen for term life insurance work out to less than $300 a year for a $100K payout and a 30-year period. There is a discrepancy here which is puzzling, and one of the best ways I see to resolve the discrepancy is to ask the man himself, which I have done. He is taking way more time to respond than I was expecting, which is messing up my feelings about the whole thing. You would help me if you were to contact him yourself and share your info. We don't know each other much, so I won't feel bad if you aren't interested in helping me out. Having said that: will you help me ?
1Paul Crowley
You should be looking at whole life insurance, not term life insurance. Let me know if he takes more than a week to reply...
Could you elaborate on why you think that?
1Paul Crowley
If I get 40 year term insurance now but live to 78, I'll then be uninsured and unable to afford more insurance, so I won't be covered when I most need it.
The general idea of term insurance is to ensure that your heirs get something if you die during the n years it takes you to build them an inheritance. The cryonics equivalent of this idea is that you don't need whole life insurance if you expect over the term of the insurance to save enough money to pay for cryonics out of pocket.
I think the idea is to ensure an income during the term of childhood; when the term ends, one expects that they are capable of supporting themselves. If it were about inheritance, then it would be comparable to cryonics, but I don't think it is.
From Wikipedia: "Many financial advisors or other experts commonly recommend term life insurance as a means to cover potential expenses until such time that there are sufficient funds available from savings to protect those whom the insurance coverage was intended to protect." That's the idea I meant to convey; the above phrasing nicely covers both the "inheritance" and "funding cryonics" cases.
I suspect you are under-estimating your future earnings ability, unless you plan on going into something that pays poorly, like trying to solve existential risk.
I'm still not sure what to get. I hear that whole life is significantly more expensive than term, so the savings from term could be put aside to later pay for the higher premiums? Hmm, but maybe whole life makes more sense. Or since I'm 27, maybe I could get a 10 year term and then switch to whole life.
Yes. In fact, that's exactly what the insurance company does with your premiums when you buy whole life. Except they take a bunch out for themselves. There's no good reason to buy whole life when you just could buy term and invest the difference until you have enough saved to pay for the cryofund. Except if you don't think you will be disciplined enough to regularly invest the difference, and even then, you can have money automatically taken from a bank account into your cryonics account.
2Eliezer Yudkowsky
Albeit that if the money is in your name, those who might otherwise be your heirs will have a motive to try and stop your cryonic preservation to get their hands on the money. It's happened.
True, but you can set up an irrevocable trust to prevent that.
1Eliezer Yudkowsky
It's a lot easier to just buy a life insurance policy.
1Paul Crowley
Yes, I found whole life to be 4-5 times more expensive than term. I'm currently contemplating going for 40 year term and betting that either the world will end before then, or if not that the Singularity will take place, or if not that cryopreservation will be much cheaper by then.
Is there an actuary in the house?
Ten days and counting.
2Paul Crowley
Magic, thanks! As it turns out, people's default assumption isn't that I've joined a cult, it's that this is my mid-life crisis. What I find very odd is that some of this is from people who knew me ten years ago!
Alcor and CI are both 501(c)(3) nonprofits. From the IRS guide to applying for tax-exempt status: ... The only people making money off this are the employees (all 15 of them between CI and Alcor) and the life insurance companies. The rest of us have to settle for a warm fuzzy feeling when people sign up. ETA: Correction. CI is not a 501(c)(3), just a regular nonprofit. Thanks ciphergoth.
1Paul Crowley
Actually, the CI is not a 501(c)(3) though it is a non-profit.

I see a disturbing surface similarity.

"If you don't teach your children the One True Religion, you're a lousy parent."

My own excuse for not signing up for cryonics is not that I don't think it will work, it's that I don't particularly value my own existence. I'm much more concerned about the effects of my death on other people than its effects on me; I've resolved not to die before my parents do, because I don't want them to suffer the grief my death would cause.

Incidentally, is it possible to sign someone else up for cryonics, if they don't object?

"If you don't teach your children the One True Religion, you're a lousy parent."

Given that the One True Religion is actually correct, wouldn't you, in fact, be a lousy parent if you did not teach it? Someone who claims to be a Christian and yet doesn't teach their kids about Christianity is, under their incorrect belief system, condemning them to an eternity of torture, which surely qualifies as being a lousy parent in my book.

IAWYC, but to nitpick, not all Christians believe in an eternity of torture for nonbelievers. Though of course the conclusion follows for any belief in a substantially better afterlife for believers.

(I feel like this is important to point out, to avoid demonizing an outgroup, but don't trust that feeling very much. What do others think?)

Indeed, but I wonder how they deal with passages like Revelation 14:11, Matthew 25:41, or Mark 9:43. Its conceptually possible to believe that the Bible is full of nonsense yet Jesus really did die for our sins. But nobody ever seems to actually hold this position. Or if they do, they never seem to come out and say it.
Frequently, by not knowing about them. They do, but they express it as either "the Bible was written by fallible men" or "it's all Deep Metaphor".
If you really want to know, you could try asking them. Or reading their books, if you don't know any. You could even think up good arguments yourself for reconciling the belief with the verses. I have no book recommendations. My point is that flaunting Biblical quotations and going "nyah! nyah!" does not make a good argument, even if the conclusion is correct. Zombie-hunting requires better instruments than that.
I have. You point out the verses to them and they say things like "Well all I know is that God is just." Or they just say "Hmm." What I want to know is what a thinking sort of hell-denying Christian says. Since this is essentially a heretical position, I'm not sure how heavily it's defended in the literature. Still, I do have in my bookshelf an anthology containing a universalist essay by Marilyn McCord Adams, where she states that "I do not regard Scripture as infallible [... but ...] I do not regard my universalist theology as un-Scriptural, because I believe the theme of definitive divine triumph is central to the Bible". She seems to want to reject the Bible and accept it too. I think the most coherent Christian position would be: There is a God. Various interesting things happened at God's doing, including Jesus and his miracles. The people who witnessed all these events wrote about them, but invariably these accounts are half fiction or worse. Paul is clearly a charlatan. But nobody seems to believe this: Christians who think the Bible is fallible nevertheless act as if it is mostly right. It's necessary when dealing with the doublethink of people who want to take the Bible as divine yet reject key parts of it. Note that this sort of comment provokes an automatic reaction to fight back, rather than to consider whether you might be correct.
Many doctrines are collected here. Not all have the damned eternally waterboarded with boiling lead. For example, the Orthodox churches teach that hell is the response to the direct presence of God by the soul which has rejected Him. It is no more a punishment than the pain you feel if you cut a finger. And then, whatever hell is, who goes there, and do they stay there for eternity? Doctrines differ on this as well -- the issue of works vs. faith, or the issue of those who have never encountered the Word and have not been in a position to accept or reject it. How do they explain Biblical passages? By interpreting them (as they would say) correctly. Unless you look to extreme fringe groups who think that the King James Bible was a new revelation whose every letter is to be as meticulously preserved and revered as Moslems do the Koran, every Christian doctrine allows that the text needs interpretation. As well, the Catholic and Orthodox churches do not regard the Bible as the sole source of the Word, regarding the settled doctrine of the church as another source of divine revelation. There is also the Book of Nature, which God also wrote. With multiple sources of divine revelation, but an axiomatic unity of that revelation, any conflicts must result from imperfect human understanding. Given the axiom, it is really not difficult to come up with resolutions of apparent conflicts. Confabulating stories in order to maintain an immovable idea is something the brain is very good at. Watch me confabulate a Bayesian justification of confabulation! Strong evidence can always defeat strong priors, and vice versa. So if the unity of God's Word is as unshakeable as 2+2=4, a mere difficult passage is less than a feather on the scales. I say this not to teach Christian doctrines (I'm as atheist as anyone, and my Church of Scotland upbringing was as unzealous as it could possibly be and still be called a religion), but to point out that Christians do actually have answers to the
It's not like that at all. Many Bible passages dealing with Hell are perfectly clear, whereas it takes a great distortion of evolutionary theory to get to "a monkey gave birth to a man".
Speaking of thinking Christians makes me think of Fred Clark: some clue might be found in his interpretation of Genesis 6-9.
It would be easier to accept texts as mere teaching stories if they were clearly intended as such. A few are, like the Book of Job, and possibly, Jonah. Parts of Genesis, maybe (though I doubt it). But it can't be right to dismiss as a mere story everything that doesn't seem likely or decent. Much of it is surely intended literally.
I would agree, which is part of why I found the linked post so strange.
A very common argument taught by the traditional churches (as opposed to the neo-evangelical churches in America) that the notions of "eternal fire" and "hell" are just symbols to express the pain caused by the distance from God. Therefore, the punishment is self-inflicted, not something imposed by God directly, but rather a logical consequence.
It's not too hard to interpret these passages to mean that hell exists, and is only for certain kinds of sins. There's a difference between rejecting God and never having heard of him, for instance. I'm always astounded when Protestants do actually believe the Bible is not full of nonsense. The Catholic Church did a lot of editing / selection of what went in there, using "Sacred Tradition" as their primary justification. Given that Protestants reject Sacred Tradition, it should follow that they have no basis for choosing which apocrypha should have been included in the first place, and shouldn't just take the Catholics' word for it.
Protestant religions are mostly political constructs. They tried to make a few theological changes, but mostly on the cosmetic level only to justify the political independence from the Pope. Even if it would not be the case, religions need something sacrosanct, which is the scripture in this case. It would have been politically very unwise to try to compromise the apparent sanctity of that source, especially since it was very easy to put their own interpretation to it. Even modern evangelical religions don't try to modify the wording of the actual script. Additionally, since the language of religion has been latin for more than 1500 years, the actual text of the bible changed practically nothing since around 400. One could argue that the church and its ideology that time was more different from the current catholic ones than the current protestant churches and their teachings.
I'd agree with you there, but the period before 400ish was not negligible. Before that time the New Testament wasn't even a book, but rather a collection of different books, many of which did not make it into the canon. Clearly, people were actually concerned about the issue of canonicity at around the time of the Reformation; it was touched on at Trent, as well as various non-RC christian councils, in the 16th century or so. That said, while your political explanation seems correct, it should not be comforting to Protestant theologians.
To be fair: One of the main cornerstones of a lot of christian religions, the divinity of Christ, was quite a political decision from the fourth century. Theologians learned to live with it as well.
Literary quality and coherence were actually optimized pretty well in the selection process; if you don't believe me, read an apocryphal gospel sometime. They're basically Jesus fanfic of various stripes, much more ridiculous than the ones deemed canonical, and the vast (secular) scholarly consensus has them all written in the second or third centuries (excepting the Gospel of Thomas). Then again, since many apocryphal gospels were written to buttress theologies different from the mainline one, it was easy to have them rejected for that reason alone.
Some Protestant sects do, indeed, use a slightly different Bible than the Catholic one. (Or so I heard.)
That's correct; they drop some late-written Old Testament books, which they call the "Catholic Apocrypha".
Also, there are some Christian denominations which think that nonbelievers simply die and don't get revived after the world has ended, unlike the believers who are. IIRC some also put more weight on doing good works during your life than whether you are actually a believer or not.
This is what Jehovah's Witnesses believe.
That was also a belief of some of the most important Jewish scholars. Orthodox Judaism holds it as a truth, and the other sects of Judaism don't believe it.
2Eliezer Yudkowsky
Not true AFAIK; last time I checked I was told that sinners got a maximum of twelve months in Gehenna, or eleven months if someone says Kaddish for them, and Saturdays off.
Does this change from Orthodox sect to Orthodox sect or even rabbi to rabbi? I glanced at Wikipedia and assumed that quote from the Talmud applied, but maybe it is interpreted differently, quoted out of context, or just selectively ignored. I think I just underestimated the ability of Orthodox Jews to rationalize away their actual belief system, especially the most negative aspects. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resurrection#Orthodox_Judaism I would guess that the interpretation changed when Sheol stopped being interpreted as "grave" and started being interpreted as "hell." I don't know which meaning of Sheol the Talmudic scholars had.

I see a disturbing surface similarity.

"If you don't teach your children the One True Religion, you're a lousy parent."

It's good reasoning (from respective premises) in both cases. It is believing that the One Religion is True that is stupid. We have further negative associations with that kind of statement because we expect most 'stable' religious people to compartmentalise their beliefs such that the stupidity doesn't leak out into their actual judgements.

Could you elaborate on this? If you are depressed, or not enjoying life, or not satisfied with who you are for some reason or other, have you considered that if we get to a future where technology is vastly more advanced than it is now, that there might be ways to fix that and at least bring you to the level of "life enjoyment" that others who want to sign up for cryonics have (if not much more than that since we are currently very limited)? Because of that possibility, maybe it would make sense to sign up, and if you get to the "other side" and realize that you still don't value your existence and there's no way to change that, then commit suicide.

Personally, I have a mild preference towards being alive rather than dead, but it's not strong enough to motivate me to look at cryonics options. (Especially since their availability in Europe is rather bad.) This is partially motivated by the fact that I consider continuity of consciousness to be an illusion in any case - yes, there might be a person tomorrow who remembers thinking the thoughts of me today, but that's a different person from the one typing these words now.

Of course, I'm evolutionarily hardwired to succumb to that illusion in some degree. Postulating a period of cryonic suspension after which I'm rebuilt, however, feels enough like being effectively killed and then reborn that it breaks the illusion. Also, that illusion is mostly something that operates in 'near' mode. Evoking the far, post-revival future gets me into 'far' mode, where I'm much less inclined to attach particular value for the survival of this particular being.

Finally, there's also the fact that I consider our chances of actually building FAI and not getting destroyed by UFAI to be rather vanishingly small.

Interesting. That thought process is how I made a case for cryonics to a friend recently. Their objection was that they didn't think it would be them, and I countered with the fact that the you of tomorrow isn't really the same as the you of today...and yet you still want to live till tomorrow.
Do you think that there might be a link between these two things? Aubrey de Grey often talks about the "pro-death trance", and says that as long as people think that death from the diseases of aging is inevitable, they'll find ways to rationalize why "it's a good thing" or at least "not so bad". Do you think that if Cryonics was widely available where you are and that it was affordable (a hundred Euros a year life insurance, f.ex.) that this would increase your interest in it?
I have pretty much the same view as Kaj, I'd get cryonics if it was cheap. If I did I'd want to put a note that I'd be okay with people using my brain for science when they needed it to test scanning equipment and the like. For some reason I can associate better and feel more positive about imagining papers being published about my brain than being reincarnated in silicon (or carbon nanotubes).
Probably, yes.
I often have this thought, and then get a nasty sick feeling along the lines of 'what the hell kind of expected utility calculation am I doing that weighs a second shot at life against some amount of cash?' Argument rejected!
9Paul Crowley
This has to be a rationality error. Given that it's far from guaranteed to work, there has to be an amount that cryonics could cost such that it wouldn't be worth signing up. I'm not saying that the real costs are that high, just that if you're making a rational decision such an amount will exist.

Sorry, should have given more context.

Given the sky-high utility I'd place on living, I wouldn't expect to see the numbers crunch down to a place where a non-huge sum of money is the difference between signing up and not.

So when someone says 'if it were half the price maybe I'd sign up' I'm always interested to know exactly what calculations they're performing, and exactly what it is that reduces the billions of utilons of living down to a marginal cash sum. The (tiny?) chance of cryonics working? Serious coincidence if those factors cancel comfortably. Just smacks of bottom-line to me.

Put it this way - imagine cryonics has been seriously, prohibitively expensive for many years after introduction. Say it still was today, for some reason, and then after much debate and hand-wringing about immortality for the uber-rich, tomorrow suddenly and very publicly dropped to current levels, I'd expect to see a huge upswing in signing up. Such is the human being!

1Paul Crowley
I agree with all of this.
Do you agree with the quantum physics sequence? This is the big reveal: http://lesswrong.com/lw/qx/timeless_identity/
But I don't think the person tomorrow is the same person as me today, either.
Point taken. Any interest in having your volition realized? This seems much more likely to me to matter and I do happen to run an organization aimed at providing it whether you pay us or not but we'd still appreciate your help.
Well, I am a monthly donor, and unless something unexpected happens I'll be coming over in a few months to see what I can do for SIAI, so yes. :)
I haven't been entirely convinced on that note. The process of dying and the time it takes from heart stopping to head frozen in a jar seems like it would give plenty of opportunity for minor disruptions even granted that a superintelligence could put it back together.
I'm not sure if this has ever been presented as a scenario, but even if you are looking at many minor disruptions, physically speaking, there aren't that many places that your neurons would have gone. So, it is possible that many versions of you might be woken up, wedrifid1, wedrifid2, etc. , each the result of a different extrapolation that was minor enough to be extrapolated, yet major enough to deserve a different version. This would only happen if the damages have occurred in a place critical to your sense of self. I simply don't know enough neurology and neurochemistry to say how much damage this is and where, but I'm sure that the superintelligences would be able to crack that one. And your great grand children, being the nice sweet posthumans that we expect them to be, (they did recover you, didn't they?) will spend time with all versions of their great grand parents. Their brains would be running at higher cycles and keeping intelligent conversations on with 10 versions of you will be trivial to them.
Most of my desires seem to take the form "I don't want to do/experience X". Those desires of the form "I want to do/experience X" seem to be much weaker. Being dead means that I will have no experiences, and will therefore never have an experience I don't want, at the cost of never being able to have an experience I do want. Because I want to avoid bad experiences much more than I want to have good experiences, being dead doesn't seem like all that bad a deal. I'm also incredibly lazy. I hate doing things that seem like they take work or effort. If I'm dead, I'll never have to do anything at all, ever again, and that has a kind of perverse appeal to it.
I just wanted to note that your post seems completely alien to me.
Not to me.
This rejection doesn't work: if the world of the future changes so that bad experiences don't happen, and good experiences are better, it's in your interest to see it. Furthermore, do you prefer your current disposition, or you'd rather it'd change?
I don't know if I want it to change or not, but that doesn't seem like something to worry about because I don't know how to change my disposition and I don't know how to go about figuring how to change my disposition.

You know what? Someone should just go hunt down CronoDAS and forcibly cryo-suspend him. It'd be doing everyone a favour. He'd get to live in a future where he doesn't have to be geek-emo, a perceived 'murder' would be less shameful than a suicide for his parents and we wouldn't have the same old hand wringing conversation all the time.

See you on the other side. (Or not, as the case may be.)

This post was obviously a joke, but "we should kill this guy so as to avoid social awkwardness" is probably a bad sentiment, revival or no revival.
On the other hand, "we should (legally) kill this guy so as to save his life" is unethical and I would never do it. But it is a significant question and the kind of reasoning that is relevant to all sorts of situations.
Should I stop talking about this here?
No, I don't mind at all. As long as you don't mind that I don't treat this specific desire of yours with sombre dignity. I do, after all, think a death wish as an alternative to cryonic revival where your mental health can be restored is silly and something to laugh at (and so lower in status and discourage without being actually aggressive.)
Well, as long as I'm being funny...
Not to nitpick, but I think wedrifid was implying “ridiculous” rather than “funny”. ;-p
Being dead != Not doing anything Not doing something because you're lazy != Not existing I don't believe that you put low utility on life. You're just putting low utility on doing stuff you don't like.
I don't know if I can be "fixed" without changing me to the point where I'm effectively somebody else. And that's not much different than someone in the future simply having a baby and raising it to be a better person than I am. Furthermore, if the future has to choose between resurrecting me and somebody raising a child from scratch, I prefer that somebody raise a child; I'd rather the future have someone better than "me" instead of someone that I would recognize as "me". (Additionally, the argument you just made is also an argument for getting frozen right now instead of having to wait until you die a natural death before you get to be revived in a better future. "If the afterlife is so great, why not kill yourself and get there right now?")
The future will have this choice (not to revive you), and will make it against you if this turns out to be a better option, but if you don't make it to the future, you won't give it the chance of doing this particular thing (your revival) in case it turns out to be a good thing. Again, you can't be certain of what your preference actually says in the not-clear-cut cases like this, you can't know for sure that you prefer some child to be raised in place of yourself, and for this particular question it seems to be a false dilemma, since it's likely that there will be no resource limitation of this kind, only moral optimization.
I don't want to get into a whole other discussion here, but I think people change a lot throughout their lives - I know I sure did - and I'm not sure if this would be such a problem. Maybe it would be, but comparing the certainty of death to that potential problem, I know I'd take the risk. The cost of another individual might be so low in the future that there might not be a choice between you and someone else. For someone who doesn't want to live at all right now and would commit suicide anyway, then yes, I'd recommend getting cryo'ed instead. But for someone who enjoys life, then no, I wouldn't recommend it because it might not work (though having that possibility is still better than the certainty of annihilation). Life > Cryo uncertainty > Death
This leads directly into the morbid subject of "What is the optimal way to kill oneself, for purposes of cryo?"
I've actually been thinking about something similar; What if I find out I have an incurable degenerative brain disease. At which point would I decide to get vitrified to improve my chances of being successfully revived by keeping my brain in better condition at the time of my death? Now that's a tough decision to make...
If you live in the US, make sure you have had life insurance for at least two years. Then move to Oregon or Washington).
4Eliezer Yudkowsky
Suicide is automatic grounds for autopsy; if this is not true in the assisted-suicide states, I haven't heard about it.
Technically, neither state considers it suicide. I don't know if that rules out autopsy in practice though. From the Oregon Death with Dignity Act: From Washington Initiative 1000:
How would you make sure that will not happen?
I'll rephrase. I've resolved not to die voluntarily before my parents do.
Obviously they have to actively consent at some point - even if only to sign the papers you shove in front of them. And then they need to cooperate while dying. But I suppose you could do the research and fill out the form and pay for their insurance policy, yeah. But I wouldn't do that for someone who might screw it all up at the end.

in exchange for an extra $300 per year.

I'm inclined to believe this number is a lie, as I refuse to believe you are stupid enough to make mistakes of this order of magnitude.

The claimed $180/year (claimed $300 figure minus membership costs) * 50 or so more years people will live only gives $9k. Safe investment gives you barely enough to keep up with inflation, so you cannot use exponential growth argument.

Real costs are around $100k-$200k reference.

Real life insurance costs increase drastically as you age, and as your chance of death increases. Surely you must know that. If you paid the same amount of money each year, you'd need to pay $2k-$5k depending on your cryonics provider and insurance company overhead.

What will very likely happen is people paying for life insurance, then finding out at age of 70 that their life insurance costs increase so much that they cannot afford it any more, and so they won't see any cryonics even though they paid big money all their lives for it. (Not that chances of cryonics working are significant enough for it to make much difference).

taw, real life insurance costs increase drastically as you age, but only if you are beginning the policy. They don't readjust the rates on a life insurance policy every year; that's just buying a series of one-year term-life policies.

I.e., if I buy whole-life insurance coverage at 25, my rate gets locked in. My monthly/annual premium does not increase as I age due to the risk of dying increasing.