Normal Cryonics

by Eliezer Yudkowsky3 min read19th Jan 2010963 comments

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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)

6Blueberry11yI'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.
5Technologos11yFor 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?"
2Paul Crowley11yI 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.
1Morendil11yRudi 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.

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?

3MichaelGR11yWhat'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.
2Alicorn11yFirst 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.
2MichaelGR11yOf 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.
3roland11yEDIT: I found all the information I need here:http://www.cryonics.org/become.html [http://www.cryonics.org/become.html]
2scotherns11yI find it rather odd that no one has answered the original question. I'm signed up, and I'll be your friend.

If you knew that you couldn't afford to prevent your child's death why did you have one at all?

Considering that all parents so far have had children in the knowledge that they can't prevent the kid's eventual death, this question feels kinda absurd.

Most people would say that they prefer being alive regardless of the fact that they might one day die. Having a child who'll die is, arguably, better than having no child at all.

"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.

"Then why did you have a kid? If you knew that you couldn't afford to prevent your child's death why did you have one at all?"

Who said I knew that? When I was pregnant, I had a job which seemed to be secure at the time. Then the recession happened.

Also, what do you have to say to the 88% of the world's population who make less per year than I do?

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.

3Dustin11yI'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.

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.

4aausch11yI believe Eliezer has been assimilated.

I strongly advise you to immediately start donating something to somewhere, even if it's $10/year to Methuselah. If there's one thing you learn working in the nonprofit world, it's that people who donated last year are likely to also donate this year, and people who last year planned to donate "next year" will this year be planning to donate "next year".

7alyssavance11yUpon hearing this advice, I just donated $10 to SIAI, even though I consider this amount totally insignificant relative to my expected future donations. I will upvote anyone who does the same for any transhumanist charity.
3GuySrinivasan11yDo you have an estimate of how much a new donor to SIAI is worth above and beyond their initial donation? How about given that I ask them to donate with money they were about to repay me anyway? If it's significant it could be well worth the social capital to spread your own donations among non-donor friends.

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

7orthonormal11yAn 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.
2Kevin11yTop-level post it
7Eliezer Yudkowsky11yMe 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.
1whpearson11yI 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.
2gwern9yYou 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. Brown2yThe goal is to stay cold? I thought it was to be resurrected by science that will be able to cure all.
1Paul Crowley11yI've posted a link to my blog at the moment; do you think it's better that the entire article be included here?
1Eliezer Yudkowsky11yyep

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.

8orthonormal11yI'd bet karma at 4 to 1 odds that Alicorn finds this proposal deeply disturbing rather than helpful.
4wedrifid11yYou'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?
5Alicorn11yYep, 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.
3wedrifid11y"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 [http://lesswrong.com/lw/1mc/normal_cryonics/1h5j]. But it is so efficient! Surely Robin has made a post advocating such arrangements somewhere. ;)
2orthonormal11ySo I guess that's a "push" [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spread_betting] on the original terms of the bet, falling between "helpful" and "deeply disturbing".
2wedrifid11yYes, bookkeeper loses his overheads. That's what the bookie gets for accepting bets with ties.
2Alicorn11yNow, Robin, there's a person who regularly deeply disturbs me.

Never say "groupthink" unless you have better evidence than people agreeing.

I'm only posting this to play devils advocate, if not to stir up the debate a bit. I apologize for any spelling or grammatical errors. English isn't my first language.

To make groupthink testable, Irving Janis devised eight symptoms indicative of groupthink (1977).

(My interpretations may be flawed, feel free to point out any flaws in my logic)

> 1. Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking. Cryonics = eternal life in the future, relatively high financial risk, relatively low risk of being revived. The risk is still worth if if you could possibly be alive again.

> 2. Rationalizing warnings that might challenge the group's assumptions. Reanimation in the future might be expensive, reanimation might not be possible, Alcor may go bankrupt, Consciousness may not be transferable, reanimation is not possible now.

> 3. Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions. The diehards of the group seem to take no hesitation to call another person outside of their name if they simply do not agree with those who support cryonics.

>4. Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group... (read more)

3Jack11yActually, devil's advocacy is probably the best way to prevent group think (outside of earnest dissent). So well done. It also occurs to me that some people holding a belief as a result of group think is entirely consistent with the belief being true and even justified-- which is an interesting feature that isn't always be obvious. I think I represent a partial data point against group think in this case because I have a something of a revulsion against the aesthetics of cryonics, some of the social implications and some of the arrogance I see in it's promotion but nonetheless conclude that it is probably a worthwhile gamble.

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?

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)

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.)

4Bindbreaker11yThis 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.
3wedrifid11yOn the other hand, "we should (legally) kill this guy so as to save his life" is unethical [http://lesswrong.com/lw/v1/ethical_injunctions/] 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.

It's just not something I feel comfortable doing to a small child; sending them someplace I haven't been and can't imagine.

If your children were about to leave for a strange country without you - or for that matter with you, to some place that none of you had ever been - would you, in your pity, shoot them?

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? WHY IS YOUR BRAIN NOT PROCESSING THIS? IT'S YOUR KIDS' FUCKING LIVES NOT A FAIRY TALE YOU'RE WRITING. You don't get to be uncomfortable with the fairy tale and so refuse to write it. All you can do is kill your kids. That's it. That's all refusal means.

Then you are, in a technical sense, crazy. The rules of probability theory are rules, not suggestions. No one gets to modify what counts as "rational evidence", not even science; it's given by Bayes's Theorem. If you make judgments based on other criteria like "not believing anything strange can happen, regardless of what existing theories predict when extrapolated, unless I see definite confirmation, regardless of the reasonableness of expecting definite confirmation right now even given that the underlying theory is correct", you'll end up with systematically wrong answers. Same thing if you try to decide in defiance of expected utility, using a rule like "ignore the stakes if they get large enough" or "ignore any outcome that has not received definite advance confirmation regardless of its probability under a straight extrapolation of modern science".

3zero_call11yI very easily believe that you think I'm crazy. Then again, you're the one paying thousands of dollars to freeze yourself, devoting your life to philosophy in the quest of achieving a technical, non-philosophical goal, and believing that the universe is instantaneously creating infinitely many new worlds at every instant. Your idea of "data extrapolation" is drastically different from mine. I'm using the accepted modus operandi of data extrapolation in physics, biology, and all other hard sciences, where we extrapolate conclusions from direct evidence. While my form of extrapolation is in no way "superior", it does have a much higher degree of certainty, and I certainly don't feel that that's somehow "crazy". If I'm crazy, then the entire scientific community is crazy. All I'm doing is requiring the standard level of data before I believe someone's claim to be correct. And this standard is very, very fruitful, I might add.
5Jordan11ySuppose someone offered you 1,000,000 : 1 odds against string theory being correct. You can buy in with $5. If string theory is ever confirmed (or at least shown to be more accurate than the Standard Model) then you make $5,000,000, otherwise you've wasted your $5. Do you take the option? There is -- as far as I know -- no experimental evidence in favor of string theory, but it certainly seems plausible to many physicists. In fact, based on that plausibility, many physicists have done the expected value calculation and decided they should take the gamble and devote their lives to studying string theory -- a decision very similar to the hypothetical monetary option.
5AndyWood11yYour repeated references to your own background in physics as a way of explaining your own thinking suggests to me that you may not be hearing what other people are saying, but rather mistranslating. I don't see anybody saying they think unfreezing will definitely work. By and large, I see people saying that if you greatly value extending your life into the far future, then, given all the courses of action that we know of, signing up for cryonics is one of the best bets. Evidence is knowledge that supports a conclusion. It isn't anything like proof. In that sense, there is evidence that unfreezing will work someday, which is not to say that anybody knows that it will work.
3zero_call11yIronically, you're mistake my assertion in the same manner that you think I'm mistaking others'. It's correct people aren't claiming certainty of beliefs, but neither am I. In fact, I'm supporting uncertainty in the probabilities, and that's all. I haven't once claimed that cryonics won't work, or can't work. My degree of skepticism was engendered by the extreme degree of support that was shown in the top-post. That being said, I haven't even expressed that much skepticism. I merely suggested that I would wait a while before coming to such a strong conclusion as EY, e.g., so strong as to pass strong value judgements on others for not making my same decision.

You do, however, seem to be making the claim that given the current uncertainties, one should not sign up for cryonics; and this is the point on which we seem to really disagree.

One's actions are a statement of probability, or they should be if one is thinking and acting somewhat rationally under a state of uncertainty.

It's not known with certainty whether the current cryonics procedure will suffice to actually extend my life, but that doesn't excuse me from making a decision about it now since I might well die before the feasibility of cryonics is definitively settled, and since I legitimately care about things like "dying needlessly" on the one hand and "wasting money pointlessly" on the other.

You might legitimately come to the conclusion that you don't like the odds when compared with the present cost and with respect to your priorities in life. But saying "I'm not sure of the chances, therefore I'll go with the less weird-sounding choice, or the one that doesn't require any present effort on my part" is an unsound heuristic in general.

2Vladimir_Nesov11yA good point.

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.

2Unknowns11yEliezer 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.

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?

Thanks!

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 Crowley11yBTW, thanks for the reference to Hoffman. Looking at Hoffman's page about life assurance for non-US people [http://www.rudihoffman.com/cryonics_non_us.html] 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 :(
4pdf23ds11yI would really like someone to expand upon this:
3MichaelGR11yDon'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.
2Paul Crowley11yMagic, 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!
3AngryParsley11yAlcor and CI are both 501(c)(3) nonprofits. From the IRS guide to applying for tax-exempt status [http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p4220.pdf]: ... 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.

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.

9Nick_Tarleton11yIAWYC, 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?)
2Kaj_Sotala11yAlso, 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.
9wedrifid11yIt'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.
4MichaelGR11yCould 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 [http://www.good.is/post/the-utopia-force/] 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.
9Kaj_Sotala11yPersonally, 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.
3Dustin11yInteresting. 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.
7CronoDAS11yI 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?")
2Vladimir_Nesov11yThe 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.
2MichaelGR11yI 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
4dclayh11yThis leads directly into the morbid subject of "What is the optimal way to kill oneself, for purposes of cryo?"
4MichaelGR11yI'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...
4AngryParsley11yIf you live in the US, make sure you have had life insurance for at least two years [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_insurance#Contract_terms]. Then move to Oregon [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_Death_with_Dignity_Act] or Washington [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Initiative_1000_\(2008\]).
3Eliezer Yudkowsky11ySuicide is automatic grounds for autopsy; if this is not true in the assisted-suicide states, I haven't heard about it.
7AngryParsley11yTechnically, neither state considers it suicide. I don't know if that rules out autopsy in practice though. From the Oregon Death with Dignity Act [http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/pas/ors.shtml]: From Washington Initiative 1000 [http://wei.secstate.wa.gov/osos/en/Documents/I1000-Text%20for%20web.pdf]:
6CronoDAS11yMost 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.
4Dustin11yI just wanted to note that your post seems completely alien to me.
2Bongo11yNot to me.
2Vladimir_Nesov11yThis rejection [http://lesswrong.com/lw/wj/is_that_your_true_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?

This is called the "consequentialist doppelganger" phenomenon, when I've heard it described, and it's very, very annoying to non-consequentialists. Yes, you can turn any ethical system into a consequentialism by applying the following transformation:

  1. What would the world be like if everyone followed Non-Consequentialism X?
  2. You should act to achieve the outcome yielded by Step 1.

But this ignores what we might call the point of Non-Consequentialism X, which holds that you should follow it for reasons unrelated to how it will make the world be.

3komponisto11yI'm tempted to ask what kind of reasons could possibly fall into such a category -- but we don't have to have that discussion now unless you particularly want to. Mainly, I just wanted to point out that when whoever-it-was above mentioned "your utility function", you probably should have interpreted that as "your preferences".
5Blueberry11yThere should be a "Deontology for Consequentialists" post, if there isn't already.
6Alicorn11yI might write that.
5thomblake11yPerhaps I should write "Utilitarianism for Deontologists". Here goes: "Follow the maxim: 'Maximize utility'".
4Paul Crowley11yActually, it was exactly the problems with this formulation that I was talking about in the pub with LessWrongers on Saturday. Consequentialism isn't about maximizing anything; that's a deontologist's way of looking at it. Consequentialism says that if action A has a Y better outcome than action B, then action A is better than action B by Y. It follows that the best action is the one with the best outcome, but there isn't some bright crown on the best action compared to which all other actions are dull and tarnished; other actions are worse to exactly the extent to which they bring about worse consequences, that's all.
3Alicorn11yI'd like to see you write Virtue Ethics for Consequentialists, or for Deontologists.
3Jack11y"Being virtuous is obligatory, being vicious is forbidden." This feels like cheating.
3Eliezer Yudkowsky11y"Do that which leads to people being virtuous."
4Jack11yI don't think this is right. This would seem to indicate that one could do the ethical thing by being a paragon of viciousness if people learned from your example. How about, "Maximize your virtue."
2Eliezer Yudkowsky11ySo other people's virtue is worth nothing?
4Jack11yStrictly, no. Virtue ethics is self-regarding that way. But it isn't like virtue ethics says you shouldn't care about other people's virtue. It just isn't calculated at that level of the theory. Helping other people be virtuous is the compassionate and generous thing to do.
2RobinZ11ySuch a person is sometimes called a "Mad Bodhisattva".
3Jack11yNot to butt in but "x is morally obligatory" is a perfectly good reason to do any x. That is the case where x is exhibiting some virtue, following some rule or maximizing some end.

Your children are standing in front of the boat. You can send them on the boat. You can go with them on the boat. Or you can cut their throats. That's it. There's nothing else.

I hand you the knife.

What do you do?

I think I'm starting to understand what the absence of clicking is. People who click process problems as if they're in the real world. If they wouldn't cut their child's throat, then they sign their kid up for cryonics.

People who don't click don't process the problem like it's the real world. Strange reactions rise up in them, fears of the ... (read more)

4byrnema11y* Yes, I’m not a “clicker”. I realize this wasn’t addressed to me, but about me, but I don’t see how this should make me feel ashamed or even inadequate. I need to make ethical/moral decisions and I have no choice but to think through them on my own and make my own decision. When I was 16, I was certain that Proof by Induction would not work, and ever since I understood that it did work, I’ve never claimed certainty based on intuition. However, some arrogance remains in that if something doesn’t convince me, I think: why should I be convinced, if I’m not convinced? I haven’t had any feedback from life that my ability to make decisions isn’t working. I have some problems, but they don’t seem related in any way to not clicking. (Well, maybe I need to “click” on you guys just being too culturally different from me.) * I wonder if in response to your hypothetical you expect a reasonable me to suddenly realize, “oh no! I would never kill them!” and thus find the contradiction in my far-mode reasoning about cryonics. But I would. (Filling in drastic and dire reasons for why the children were being taken on a boat against my will.) So would you, I think, slip a deadly but painless pill to a young boy about to be tortured and killed in a religious ceremony if you were certain it was going to happen. Perhaps you were trying to identify an ethical failing: that at one probability of risk I “let them” live, but at a higher level I arbitrarily, cruelly kill them. I don’t think even this is correct; I don’t know where to begin to know how to reason where the ‘killing’ probability would be, and don’t claim that I do. I only know that it would be an agonizing thing for a parent to ever have to decide, but one they can’t escape from just by glibly pretending such scenarios cannot happen, if the scenario does happen. * I submit that I’m an open-minded and curious person that isn’t afraid of new
2AdeleneDawner11yYour description of not-clicking sounds functionally similar to what Amanda Baggs calls 'widgets [http://ballastexistenz.autistics.org/?p=285]', though she uses the term in a more political than personal context.

you still don't have any evidence

This is a larger issue here than just cryonics, which might be why you're getting some downvotes. While few of the things we've been referring to would be admissible in a courtroom, the sense in which we use the word "evidence" is a bit more general than that. (Do, in particular, read the post linked within the wiki article.)

And it's not just a matter of idiosyncratic word usage— the way we think of evidence really is better suited to figuring things out than the working definition most people use in order to... (read more)

2Tyrrell_McAllister11ySee also Eliezer's post Is Molecular Nanotechnology "Scientific"? [http://lesswrong.com/lw/io/is_molecular_nanotechnology_scientific/] (also found at the wiki article you gave — that wiki's really starting to shape up).

...because the first thing warlords do when they take over Scottsdale, Arizona, is invest great amounts of money in technology to revive old people, then use their highly advanced mind-controlling powers to turn them into mentally aware but vicariously controlled slaves, or otherwise coerce their few dozens of old computer scientists and physicists to kick babies and spit on puppies. Because warlords and UnFriendly AIs are evil for the sake of being evil. Makes perfect sense.

(Your parenthetical point is an argument for donating to FAI research, not an argument against getting froze.)

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 y... (read more)

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.

5Morendil11y"Funded by life insurance" strikes me as an oversimplified summary of a strategy that must necessarily be more sophisticated. Plus "life insurance" actually means several different things, only some of which actually insure you against loss of life. I'm still trying to find out more, but it seems the most effective plan would be a "term" life insurance (costs about $30 a month for 20 years at my age, 40ish and healthy), which lasts a limited duration, isn't an investment, but does pay out a large sum to designated beneficiaries in the event of death. (I haven't done the math on inflation yet.) You would combine that with actual long-term investments earmarked for funding the actual costs of the procedure if you need it after 20 years. These investments may be "life insurance" of the usual kind, or stocks, or whatever. Doing that mitigates the scenario I'm really worried about: learning in 2 to 10 years that in spite of being (relatively) young, healthy and wealthy I have a fatal disease (cancer, Lou Gehrig, whatever) and having to choose between my family's stability and dying for ever. Cryonics as insurance against feeling dreadfully stupid. In twenty years I expect I will have obtained more information, and gotten richer, and might make different choices. I'm interested enough in cryo that I'm actually trying to get actual quotes, as opposed to merely speculating; I have gotten in touch with Rudi Hoffman who was recommended earlier on LW. My situation - non-US resident - might mean that whatever results I get are not really representative, but I'm willing to report back here with whatever info I get.
3Dustin11yMy current life insurance policy is what is called "term life insurance". It is good for a term of 20 years. The payout if I die within those 20 years is $500,000. My monthly premium is $40 for that whole 20 years. You can get an instant online quote here [https://www.zanderins.com/term/instantquote.aspx]. You don't have to put in real name and email address.
2taw11yEven assuming best health class - something which won't happen as you age. * Age 27, quotes: 250-600 * Age 47, quotes: 720-1970 * Age 67, quotes: 6550-13890 * Age 77: nobody willing to provide insurance In other words, this is exactly what I was talking about - it's a big fat lie to pretend your premium won't change as you age.
4AngryParsley11yTerm life insurance is not the only type available. Most people who get term life insurance plan on having enough money saved up by the time the term runs out. Whole life insurance has no change in premium for the entire lifetime of the insured.
3Dustin11yI'm 32. I fit in the "Preferred" health group. 30 year term life insurance with a 100k payout is 168/year as per the quotes page I provided above. As AngryParsley mentions, if you purchase term life insurance you're planing on having savings to cover your needs after your policy expires. This is my plan. However, I suppose in say 15 years, I could purchase another 30 year/100k term insurance policy. Let's say I slip a category to "Standard Plus". My premium will be 550/year. That of course assumes I didn't save anything during those 15 years (not to mention the remaining 15 years in the original policy) and need a 100k policy.
2Paul Crowley11y"Lie" is much too strong a term, but I get the same result when I multiply 180 by 50, and I'm curious to understand the discrepancy.

Did your calculations for X take into account discounting at 0-10%? Money for research years from now does much less good than money now.

what if the freezing process somehow changed neurochemistry so that everyone who came back was a psychopath?

Or not.

2quanticle11yWell, aren't you privileging the hypothesis that cryonics works? I mean, I look at Eliezer's argument above, and the unstated assumption is, "Cryonics works and has no ill side effects." Well, lets question that assumption. What if cryonics doesn't work? What if it works, but leaves you disabled? I know several people who have "living wills" - they'd rather be dead than disabled. Unless you're saying that your hypothetical thawing process will be nearly perfectly safe, I'd argue that there is a risk of disability, an outcome which may rank below death (depending on your individual value function, of course). Given the above, would you say, "Anyone who doesn't buy cryonics for their children is a bad parent?" After all, aren't you imposing your value function vis a vis potential disability onto your children? Shouldn't we let them decide their own values regarding such a significant issue?
3wedrifid11yMaking people into psychopaths would be extremely difficult even if you were trying to do it. Cryonics working is a hypothesis that I would put as 'very slightly more likely than a desirable technological singularity'. It is worth the $300 a year because it is one of very few things that can actually save your life in the long term. I count all those scenarios as 'cryonics not working'.
2Cyan11yThat's not his assumption. The assumption is that there is a non-negligible chance that cryonics will work -- one chance in ten would be more than sufficient. Another assumption is that the opportunity to spend more time alive is far more desirable than death. It then follows that it's nuts not to sign up.

I have no child; this is not coincidence. If I did have a kid you can damn well better believe that kid would be signed up for cryonics or I wouldn't be able to sleep.

I, personally, will allocate any resources that I would otherwise use for cryonics to the prevention of existential risks.

I'll accept that excuse for your not being signed up yourself - though I'm rather skeptical until I see the donation receipt. I will not accept that excuse for your child not being signed up. I'll accept it as an excuse for not having a child, but not as an excuse for having a child and then not signing them up for cryonics. Take it out of the movie budget, not the existential risks budget.

2Bindbreaker11yI don't believe in excuses, I believe that signing up for cryonics is less rational than donating to prevent existential risks. For somewhat related reasons, I do not intend to have children.
4Eliezer Yudkowsky11ySounds like you could be in a consistent state of heroism, then. May I ask to which existential risk(s) you are currently donating?

I have a policy with Kansas City Life Insurance:

All these benefits come with a guarantee that your premium won’t change. The basic premium you agree to now will remain the same throughout the life of your policy.

So umm... yeah. That's how life insurance usually works.

ETA: This is the first time I've heard, "life insurance doesn't work" as an objection to cryonics.

2Paul Crowley11yIf you don't mind my asking, how much goes in, and how much comes out? taw's math that no policy is going to pay out more than fifty times the annual pay-in seems like it has to be right.
9AngryParsley11yRemember that a lot of people who get life insurance policies cancel them before they die, or fall on hard times and can't pay the premiums. I'm 24 and healthy. I went the more expensive route and got whole life insurance, so my premiums are $64/month. With Alcor dues I end up spending about a grand per year on cryonics. Did I mention I picked what is basically the most expensive option? (Alcor whole body preservation with whole life insurance). You could easily cut that down to $300/year if you went with CI and term life insurance. $64 * 12 * 50 = $38,400, which is a bit less than the policy of $200k. If that money were invested every month, it would end up being significantly more than the policy amount.

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.

9Eliezer Yudkowsky11yThat sounded pretty odd until I looked up the parent comment, I gotta tell you.

a discontinuous leap into an alien future

Compare: death.

Would you kill them to prevent it?

Are they better off dead?

Are you a finite state machine? I have told you twice that whole life insurance is available and costs about the same as cable television if you want to pay for the most expensive cryopreservation available. CI + whole life insurance would probably be $500/year.

"certain it would work" != "certain it's not a scam"

Don't know where you got your numbers, there were two experiments with small AI handicaps ($10 and $20, 2 wins) and three experiments for $2K-$5K with 1 win and 2 losses.

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.

8UnholySmoke11ySorry, 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 [http://lesswrong.com/lw/js/the_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!

In the UK these are called life assurance policies. Assurance, because the event (death) will assuredly happen. You pay a fixed annual sum every year; the insurance company pays out a lump sum when you die. It is a combination of insurance and investment. Insurance, because the death payout happens even if you don't live long enough for your payments to cover the lump sum. Investment, because if you live long enough the final payment is funded by what you put in, plus the proceeds of the insurance company's investments, minus their charges -- part of which... (read more)

Antiakrasia, future-self-influencing recommendation: if you can afford $10/year today, make sure your current level of giving is not zero.

You should know by now that "I just came up with another excuse" is a red flag for motivated cognition. We might not have even found your true reason for rejection yet...

2CronoDAS11yWell, my true reason might indeed be something more along the lines of "my parents wouldn't approve of it". And the original post referred to reasons not to sign up for cryonics as "excuses" so I copied the terminology. ;)

Just so I understand this part of your point, what do you mean by "hero" (as in "I am a hero" but also the previous paragraph where you talk about who is and isn't a hero)? Is that a reference to some earlier article I missed, maybe?

7Eliezer Yudkowsky11yYou're not missing any context. I thought there was a pretty clear divide at the gathering between people living their ordinary lives as sound studio technicians or scientists or whatever; and people trying to change life as we know it, like me or the cancer-cure guy or the old guard who'd spent years trying to do something about the insane loss of life. I'm not sure how I could make it any clearer. Some were in class "heroes", some were in class "the ordinary lives that heroes protect".

Presumably some would reserve the word "hero" for those who actually succeed in changing life as we know it (for the better), and thus would be confused by your usage.

4Kevin11yI chose to interpret it as hero in the literary sense. There is something epic about Eliezer's life mission, no? Let's just hope he isn't a tragic hero. You don't need to succeed at your mission to be a hero; you just need to be the protagonist in the story. It's all very absurd, but surely more so for Eliezer than you and me...
3ata11yYeah, maybe a better term to use in this context would be something like "revolutionary" (a bit aggrandizing, but so is "hero", and I'd say it's well-deserved). That would be for those who are actively trying, whether or not they have personally made any significant, lasting contributions — the heroes would be those who have. (Not that we'd want this to turn into a status game, of course. The only point of debate here is whether clearer terminology could be used.)
7CronoDAS11y"Aspiring hero" is good enough, I think.
2ata11yI could accept that. That's really the only point I was trying to make; that trying to do something noble, like curing cancer, is praiseworthy, but does not automatically make someone a hero. Lots of people try to cure cancer; most of them are well-intentioned kooks or quacks... and even of those who aren't, those who work on possible cancer cures within a rigourous scientific/rational framework, most of them will fail. As I said, they are worthy of praise and recognition for their efforts, but they are not automatically heroes. But I would be fine with calling them "aspiring heroes". I'm trying to make sure I'm not arguing about definitions here, but I'm not sure if the disagreement is over the definition of the word "hero" or over what we value enough to consider heroic. I might be persuaded that even trying to cure cancer is a heroic act, but I'm not sure how we could avoid having that include the well-intentioned kooks too. Edit: Actually, I think I just persuaded myself: the well-intentioned kooks tend to promote their kookery without sufficient evidence, possibly giving people false hope or even leading people to choose an ineffective treatment over one relatively likely to be effective. That is not heroic regardless of intent. I can accept that if a person is working on cancer treatments with rationality, scientific rigour, and intellectual honesty, then they can reasonably be described as heroic.

Since learning, from Less Wrong, of Alcor and vitrification tech and such, I seriously considered cryonics for the first time in my life and really it was obvious. However slim, it is an actual chance to live beyond the meager handful of decades we get naturally, an actual chance to not die, and in the world as it is today, the only option. Even if the chance of it actually working as advertised (waking up after however long with a brand new perfectly healthy youthful nanotechnologically-grown immortal body) is vanishingly tiny, it is still the optimal act... (read more)

2lessdazed9yAm I the only one who thinks it is far more likely that the institution will fail than that the technology is never developed or is never applied? Corporations, nation-states - few things have lasted hundreds of years with their cores intact. Laws change, market prices of commodities change, wars happen. The United States is not immune.
1katydee9yConcur. I am moderately confident that cryonics will eventually be a viable technology, assuming normal conditions-- but I am very much not confident that Alcor and the like will live to see that day.
3lessdazed9yMaybe we can vitrify them?
1Paul Crowley9yI wish you the best of luck in signing up, and persuading your dad to. I think that the technical plausibility of cryonics (not "cyronics" btw) is much higher than you seem to imply here, incidentally - I'd put it over 50%.

I personally just think that everyone should be given the same chance to live a long and happy life. I don't think anyone should be "privileged" enough to live longer than anyone else, simply because they have the financial means to do so.

Should we give up antibiotics because some people can't afford them?

I'm trying to avoid confirmation bias on this one, and I'm asking everywhere I can for links to the best anti-cryonics writing online. Thanks!

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.

3Morendil11yI'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

I adore many individual humans, and considering even complete strangers one at a time, I can offer the benefit of the doubt to a considerable degree. I abhor us as a species, and when large groups of humans do stupid or evil things, my benefit-of-doubt mechanisms stop working and I fall back on "we suck".

8CronoDAS11y"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it." - Agent K, Men in Black

Are they going to keep having this conference? $300 a year seems like an outright bargain if I get a free trip to Florida every year out of it.

How easy is it to break a cryonics contract?

The concept doesn't apply; you stop paying dues to one org, pay dues to a different org instead, fill out new paperwork and change the beneficiary on your life insurance.

The main thing, I would say, is to get the life insurance now - though signing up for cryo at the last minute is also difficult, so again, sign up with CI for now (membership dues and costs cheaper) and then worry later about switching to a local Australian org if one gets started.

3James_K11yThanks Eliezer, that's exactly what I wanted to know. With no barrier to exit, there's no reason for me not to sign up now. I'll think I'll be checking out the Cryonics Association of Australasia over the weekend.

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 int... (read more)

No, there's no penalty to be expected for signing up late. In fact, it ought to be cheaper then owing to economies of scale.

The only drawback is you might die ill-prepared while you're waiting.

A question for Eliezer and anyone else with an opinion: what is your probability estimate of cryonics working? Why? An actual number is important, since otherwise cryonics is an instance of pascal's mugging. "Well, it's infinitely more than zero and you can multiply it by infinity if it does work" doesn't cut it for me. Since I place the probability of a positive singularity diminishingly small (p<0.0001), I don't see a point in wasting the money I could be enjoying now on lottery tickets or spending the social capital and energy on something that will make me seem insane.

9Eliezer Yudkowsky11yMy estimate of the core technology working would be "it simply looks like it should work", which in terms of calibration should probably go to 90% or 80% or something like that. Estimates of cryonics organizations staying alive are outside the range of my comparative advantage in predictions, but I'll note that I tend to think in terms of them staying around for 30 years, not 300 years. The weakest link in the chain is humankind's overall probability of surviving. This is generally something I've refused to put a number on, with the excuse that I don't know how to estimate the probability of doing the "impossible" - though for those who insist on using silly reference classes, I should note that my success rate on the AI-Box Experiment is 60%. (It's at least possible, though, that once you're frozen, you would have no way of noticing all the Everett branches where you died - there wouldn't be anyone who experienced that death.)
7loqi11yHa, Cryonics as an outcome lens for quantum immortality? I find that surprisingly intuitive.

but cognitive dissonance is supposed to be a private thing, like going to the bathroom or popping a zit.

I see no compelling reason care about another person's mundane, unavoidable bodily functions. But I can see a number of compelling reasons to care about another person's sanity.

Tell you what. If I make it (to the creation of an FAI), and no one else has already done it, I will personally spend the resources to revive you and pay for your upkeep. I further make this pledge for anyone who is cryopreserved and unwanted.

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 ... (read more)

I have a cryonics related question, and this seems as good a thread as any to ask it.

I'm a New Zealander and most discussions of cryonics that I've been exposed to focus on the United States, or failing that Europe. If I have to have my head packed in ice and shipped to the US for preservation its going to degrade a fair bit before it gets there (best case scenario its a 12 hour flight, and that's just to LA, in practice time from death to preservation could be days). This is not a pleasant prospect for me, since it could lower the probability of success... (read more)

6AndrewH11yI am also a New Zealander, AND I am signed up with Cryonics Institute. You might be interested in contacting the Cryonics Association of Australasia [http://www.cryonics.org.au/home] but I'm sure there is no actual suspension and storage nearby. Besides you are missing the main point, if you don't sign up now and you die tomorrow, you are annihilated - no questions asked. I would be wary of this question as it can be an excuse to not sign up.
4Mitchell_Porter11yThere has been talk of a cryosuspension facility in Australia [http://www.heraldsun.com.au/lifestyle/health-science/first-cryogenic-centre/story-e6frfhjf-1111112167332] . But flying the body to North America [http://www.cryonics.org/reports/CI87.html] is the only way it's been done so far.
  1. Only a much wealthier, more technologically advanced society would unfreeze corpses. Less technologically advanced societies couldn't do it, and poorer societies wouldn't bother.

  2. Over time, wealth eventually causes the cultural changes we call "moral progress".

  3. Almost all bad scenarios lead to cryopreserved people never being revived. They either become "gray goo", are eaten by roving bands of cannibals, are converted into paperclips, etc.

So anyway, I think in most scenarios reanimation will be better than death.

3Theist11yThis seems a non-sequitur to me. There are a number of examples where wealth and moral progress are found together, but there are also examples where they are not. China and oil-rich Arab states come to mind.
3knb11yCulture changes slowly, but economic growth can happen quickly. China is still quite poor, first of all, but it still seems that significant moral progress has occurred in China, and in only 30 years or so. The wealthier Arab states are still pretty regressive, but we must consider how bad they used to be. For instance, as recently as the 1950s, 20% of the population of Saudi Arabia were slaves.

I was raised to consider organ donation to be the moral thing to do on my death.

I am less skeptical than average of cryonics, and nervous about "neuro" options since I'd prefer to be revived earlier and with a body. On the other hand, it still seems to me that organ donation is the more effective option for more-people-being-alive-and-happy, even if it's not me.

Am I stuck with the "neuro" option for myself? How should that translate to my children?

What do most people on LW think about organ donation?

ETA: the Cryonics Institute (the only page I've seen linked here) doesn't have that option, so am I stuck paying much more? Informative links would be appreciated.

4D_Alex11yThe "best" organ donors are young people who suffered a massive head trauma, typically in a motor vehicle accident... If you die in a situation where cryopreservation can proceed, you will probably be too old or too diseased for your organs to be of use. So perhaps the two options are not exclusive after all.
4James_Miller11yTo make up for not being an organ donor cut back on some area of personal consumption and donate the money to a charity. Since the probability of someone actually getting your organs if you agreed to be an organ donor are, I think, very low you wouldn't have to give that much to a charity for you do be doing more social good through the charitable contribution than you would have as a potential organ donor.
2magfrump11ySo does the lack of discussion of organ donation stem from its perceived lack of efficacy? If so why discuss cryonics so heavily, when it costs money? I remember Robin Hanson assigning it around a 5% chance of success (for his personal setup, not cryonics eventually working at all which I assume would be much higher), and I would naively assume that I have a greater than 5% chance of my organs helping someone (any statistics on this?). I agree that donating to charity is likely to be more effective, but it is also likely to be more effective than cryonics (as discussed elsewhere) and donating organs doesn't actually take away from my charity funds. I don't mean to speak to making agreements for children, I think that stands as the right thing to do.
4James_Miller11yYou don't have a fixed amount of charity funds, you have the amount you choose to give. Fly to a really poor country. Seek out a very poor family that has lots of kids. Give this family $1,000, which could easily be five years income for this family. On average you will have done much more good than if you spent this $1,000 on yourself and signed up to be an organ donor. Make sure this $1,000 does not reduce your other charitable giving. If you had cancer would you forgo treatment because the out-of-pocket amount you would have to pay for the treatment would have been better spent helping others?
4byrnema11yThis is not a rational answer to the question of whether it is more ethical to sign up for cryonics or donate organs, it is a rationalization. If magfrump decides it is more ethical to sign up for cryonics than donate his organs, he must decide this based on the ethics of those two choices. Someone might rationalize that it's OK to be less ethical 'over here' if they're more ethical 'over there', but it still doesn't change the ethics of those two choices. The exception is if the ethics 'over here' and the ethics 'over there' are inter-dependent. So donating money to a family in a poor country would be ethically relevant if one choice facilitates donating to the family and one does not. Here, we have the exact opposite of what was suggested: magrump can use the money he saves from not signing up for cryonics to help the family, and so he can consider this an argument in favor of the ethicality of not signing up for cryonics. (But, magfrump, I would add that we also have an ethical obligation to value our own lives. The symmetry in ethics-space can usually be found. Here, I can identify it in the hypothetical space where cryonics works: the person who needs an organ can also be cryonically suspended, perhaps until an organ is available. Then you both could live. In the space where cryonics doesn't work, organ donation is more ethical, since at least one of you can live.)

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.)

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 chance... (read more)

Cryonics is a regular topic here and on OB. The conclusion that's being "jumped to" has been argued at length elsewhere. It appears you're mistaking inferential distance for groupthink.

My estimate of the probabilities involved in calculating the payoff from cryonics differs from your estimates. I do not think it follows that I am a bad parent.

3Eliezer Yudkowsky11ySuppose your child dies. Afterward, everyone alive at the time of a Friendly intelligence explosion plus the tiny handful signed up for cryonics, live happily ever after. Would you say in retrospect that you'd been a bad parent, or would you plead that, in retrospect, you made the best possible decision given the information that you had? After all, your child could die in a car crash on a shopping trip, and yet taking them along on that shopping trip could still have been the best possible choice given the statistical information that you had. Is that the plea you would make in the above event? What probabilities do you assign?

Would you say in retrospect that you'd been a bad parent, or would you plead that, in retrospect, you made the best possible decision given the information that you had?

I reject your framing. I would say that I had made a bad mistake. Errors do not a bad parent make. Or, to put it another way, suppose you woke up in the Christian Hell; would you plead that you had made the best decision on the available information? Scary what-ifs are no argument. You cannot make me reconsider a probability assignment by pointing out the bad consequences if my assessment is wrong; you can only do so by adding information. I understand that you believe you're trying to save my life, but please be aware that turning to the Dark Side to do so is not likely to impress me; if you need the power of the Dark Side, how good can your argument be, anyway?

What probabilities do you assign?

The brain's functioning depends on electric and chemical potentials internal to the cells as well as connections between the cells. I believe that cryonics can maintain the network, but not the internal state of the nodes; consequently I assign "too low to meaningfully consider" to the probability of restoring my personality from my frozen brain. If the technology improves, I will reconsider.

Edit: I should specify that right now I have no children, lest I be misunderstood. It seems quite possible I will have some in the near future, though.

Errors do not a bad parent make.

Predictable errors do.

Or, to put it another way, suppose you woke up in the Christian Hell; would you plead that you had made the best decision on the available information?

Hell yes.

You cannot make me reconsider a probability assignment by pointing out the bad consequences if my assessment is wrong; you can only do so by adding information.

One way of assessing probabilities is to ask how indignant we have a right to be if reality contradicts us. I would be really indignant if contradicted by reality about Christianity being correct. How indignant would you be if Reality comes back and says, "Sorry, cryonics worked"? My understanding is that dogs have been cooled to the point of cessation of brain activity and revived with no detected loss of memory, though I'd have to look up the reference... if that will actually convince you to sign up for cryonics; otherwise, please state your true rejection.

9loqi11yhttp://74.125.155.132/scholar?q=cache:ZNOvlaxp0p8J:scholar.google.com/&hl=en&as_sdt=2000 [http://74.125.155.132/scholar?q=cache:ZNOvlaxp0p8J:scholar.google.com/&hl=en&as_sdt=2000]
3MichaelVassar11yIf even a percent or two of parents didn't make predictable errors we would have probably reached a Friendly Singularity ages ago. That's a very high standard. If only parents who met it reproduced the species would rapidly have gone extinct.

I believe that cryonics can maintain the network, but not the internal state of the nodes; consequently I assign "too low to meaningfully consider" to the probability of restoring my personality from my frozen brain.

There is experimental evidence to allay that specific concern. People have had flat EEGs (from barbituate poisoning, and from (non-cryogenic!) hypothermia). They've been revived with memories and personalities intact. The network, not transient electrical state, holds long term information. (Oops, partial duplication of Eliezer's post below - I'm reasonably sure this has happened to humans as well, though...) (found the canine article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1476969/)

8Eliezer Yudkowsky11ySo, how indignant are you feeling right now? Serious question. Will you suspect the forces that previously led you to come up with this objection, since they've been proven wrong? Will you hesitate to make a similar snap decision without looking up sources or FAQs the next time your child's life is at stake?
5RolfAndreassen11yNot at all, on the grounds that I do not agree with this sentence: You are way overestimating the strength of your evidence, here; and I'm sorry, but this is not a subject I trust you to be rational about, because you clearly care far too much. There is a vast difference between "cold enough for cessation of brain activity" (not even below freezing!) and "liquid bloody nitrogen"; there is a difference between human brains and dog brains; there is a difference between 120 minutes and 120 years; there is a difference between the controlled conditions of a laboratory, and real-life accident or injury. That said, this is a promising direction of research for convincing me. How's this? If a dog is cooled below freezing, left there for 24 hours, and then revived, I will sign up for cryonics. Cross my heart and hope not to die. If it turns out that cryonics as practised in 2010 works, then yes, I would be surprised. I would not be particularly suprised if a similar technology can be made to work in the future; I don't object to the proposition that information is information and the brain is un-magical, only to the overconfidence in today's methods of preserving that information. In any case, though, I can't very well update on predicted future surprises, can I now?

Since you expect some future cryonics tech to be successful, there's a strong argument that you should sign up now: you can expect to be frozen with the state of the art at the time of your brain death, not 2010 technology, and if you put it off, your window of opportunity may close.

Disclosure: I am not signed up for cryonics (but the discussion of the past few days has convinced me that I ought to).

5MichaelVassar11yHow high a probability do you place on the information content of the brain depending on maintaining electrochemical potentials? Why? Why do you think your information and analysis are better than those of those who disagree?
3Andy_McKenzie11yNot sure what exactly you mean by the "internal state of the nodes." If you are referring to inside the individual brain cells, then I think you're mistaken. We can already peer into the inside of neurons. Transmission electron microscopy is a powerful technology! Combine it with serial sectioning with a diamond knife and you can get quite a lot of detail in quite a large amount of tissue. For example consider Ragsdale et al [http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122515639/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0] 's recent study, to pick the first sstem scopus result. They looked at some sensory neurons in C. elegans, and were able to identify not just internal receptors but also which cells (sheath cells) contain abundant endoplasmic reticulum, secretory granules, and/or lipid globules. This whole discussion comes down to what level of scale separation you might need to recapitulate the function of the brain and the specific characteristics that make you you. Going down to say the atomic level would probably be very difficult, for instance. But there's good reason to think that we won't have to go nearly that far down to reproduce human characteristics. Have you read the pdf roadmap [http://www.philosophy.ox.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/3853/brain-emulation-roadmap-report.pdf] ? No reason to form beliefs w/o the relevant knowledge! :)

I am applauding this article. You have moved me. I am A-2561 neuro and I'm proud to be a member of Alcor. I am 16 years old. I got into the field myself when I watched Dr. De Grey's documentary Do You Want To Live Forever. I am unbelievably lucky. The average American has a better chance of being an A-list celebrity than being a cryonicist. As Mike Perry said; Cryonicists are born, not made. When I watched it, something just clicked and I decided to devote my life to it. A lousy parent also doesn't get memberships for the pets of their children. Cupcake an... (read more)

4ArisKatsaris9yI want to downvote you for naming a pet "snugglemuffins", but that would probably be an abuse of the system. :-)

I’ve mentioned already in comments to this post that parents don’t have access to cryonics. I would like to describe in more detail what I mean by ‘access’. I think that childless adults often don’t realize the extent to which parents depend upon embedded social structures, though I’m sure they’ve noticed things like children’s menus, stroller parking stations and priority airplane seating. (One of my worst experiences as a parent was spending 14 hours with an 11 month old in Chicago-O’Hare ...)

Access certainly includes affordability. $300 per year is what... (read more)

3Eliezer Yudkowsky11yEventually it might be easy, painless, and cheap for parents to save their children's lives. The more people sign up for cryonics, the closer we get to that world. Meanwhile, though, we don't live in that world, and for now, only parents who actually care about their children's lives will bother. See also: http://www.overcomingbias.com/2009/08/pick-one-sick-kids-or-look-poor.html [http://www.overcomingbias.com/2009/08/pick-one-sick-kids-or-look-poor.html]
2byrnema11yI've lived with families in third and second world countries, as a guest, and have my own and different ideas about this story. For example, depending upon some economic and cultural variables, it could be more likely that they don't fully trust Western solutions and didn't want to appear uppity or as though they were rejecting their native societal support structure, which they depend upon. Still, I wouldn't assert that anything is the case without actually talking to a Bolivian family. Doesn't it matter what they think of their experience? Likewise, by insisting that it's a cut-and-dry, settled issue, you missed an opportunity at your conference to ask the couple with the kids how they overcame their initial qualms, if any, and what advice they would give to other parents thinking about cryonics. I think that I would have gotten along with this couple and after speaking together for a few minutes, neither one of us would have walked away thinking that the other set of parents were 'bad parents'.

I am fairly sure, though I haven't been able to refind a link, that there's some solid evidence that autolysis isn't nearly that quick or severe.

We can watch neural cells dying underneath a microscope. The destruction looks pretty complete. Structure is dissolved in what are essentially digestive enzymes.

If you read Alcor's FAQ for Scientists, you'll notice that they are the most careful to point out that there is considerable doubt about the possibility to ever revive anyone whose gone several hours without vitrification. Maybe this is because they wa... (read more)

7Eliezer Yudkowsky11yWhat has to be done ASAP is not vitrification it is cooling. Just dropping the body in a bath of icewater will prevent that kind of damage for days; and Suspended Animation or Alcor - either of which will be waiting right next to your bedside as fast as they can fly - have much more effective ways of cooling than a bath of icewater, and they're working on better ways yet. They also use a portable thumper to perform CPR while cooling (their special waterproof version has been patented by cryo orgs for marketing for other medical uses), just to make sure your blood stays oxygenated while you're in the metabolic danger zone, and I believe they pump you full of other protectants as well (using interosseous access, which is much faster than intravenous). Local cryonics groups in faraway lands may not have thumpers and complicated blood medications and interosseous access, but they can at least dump you in a bathtub of ice water and perform CPR for a few minutes. Also, with a bit more life insurance you can get the air ambulance option at Suspended Animation.
1jhuffman11yYou are right - what I should be saying is not that I'm concerned about the likelihood of hours without vitrification but that I am concerned about hours of autolysis occurring.
2Eliezer Yudkowsky11yYes, well, I think it's safe to say that quite a few cryonics patients and orgs are concerned about that. There are complex technologies to prevent it, but also a simple one, widely available if you have any local cryonics group. It's called crushed ice, and a lot of stores will sell it to you.
2nawitus11yWhat we need are studies of damage from vitrification when the operation was not done immediately after death, but after few hours as it usually happens.
6Paul Crowley11yPlease write up these objections into a blog post or article somewhere. From the searches I've been doing, you only have to clear a very low bar to write the most clearly argued and well informed criticism of cryonics in the world.

Paradigmatic surprises vary a lot in how dramatic they are. X-rays and double slit deserved WAY lower probabilities than 1%. I'm basically going on how convincing I find the arguments for uploading first and trying to maintain calibrated confidence intervals. I would not bet 99:1 against uploading happening first. I would bet 9:1 without qualm. I would probably bet 49:1 I find it very easy to tell personally credible stories (no outlandish steps) where uploading happens first for good reasons. The probability of any of those stories happening may be... (read more)

6Eliezer Yudkowsky11yI think that was probably the greatest single surprise in the entire history of time.
3LauraABJ11yI'd be interested in seeing your reasoning written out in a top-level post. 2:1 seems beyond optimistic to me, especially if you give AI before uploading 9:1, but I'm sure you have your reasons. Explaining a few of these 'personally credible stories,' and what classes you place them in such that they sum to 10% total may be helpful. This goes for why you think FAI has such a high chance or succeeding as well. Also, I believe I used the phrase 'outside view' incorrectly, since I didn't mean reference classes. I was interested to know if there are people who are not part of your community that help you with number crunching on the tech-side. An 'unbiased' source of probabilities, if you will.
3MichaelVassar11yI think of my community as essentially consisting of the people who are willing to do this sort of analysis, so almost axiomatically no. The simplest reason for thinking that FAI is (relatively) likely to succeed is the same reason for thinking that slavery ending or world peace are more likely than one might assume from psychology or from economics, namely that people who think about them are unusually motivated to try to bring them about.

The problem is that what you call "strong plausibility" is entirely subjective until you bring evidence onto the table, and that's the point I'm trying to make.

A piece of evidence regarding a claim is any information, of whatever sort, that ought to affect the plausibility (aka probability) that you assign to the claim. If that evidence makes the claim "strongly plausible", then that's an objective fact about how the laws of probability require you to update on the evidence. There is nothing subjective about it.

In other words, I

... (read more)

There's a deep, wide difference between strong plausibility and demonstrated truth.

This right here is the root of the disagreement. There is no qualitative difference between a "strong plausibility" and a "demonstrated truth". Beliefs can only have degrees of plausibility (aka probability) and these degrees never attain certainty. A "demonstrated truth" is just a belief whose negation is extremely implausible.

No, I am saying the opposite, that the exact replica of your brain would be you, complete with your consiousness.

This is really interesting. Do you have a dispreference for uniqueness in other things, too? Do you think that societies are optimized for the average lifespans of their inhabitants and wouldn't be able to deal with a longer-lived outlying specimen? You specified "male" - if males lived 30 years and females got to be a thousand, would you still want to live to be only 30?

And once 120, you'd like to die, even if you find you're in better health at 120 than you are now?

Can you be more precise about the age at which you wish to die?

I would be very surprised if uploading was easier than AI, maybe slightly more surprised than I would be by cold fusion being real, but with the sort of broad probabilities I use that's still a bit over 1%. AGI is terribly difficult too. It's not FAI or uploading but very high caliber people have failed over and over.

The status quo points to AGI before FAI, but the status quo continually changes, both due to trends and due to radical surprises. The world wouldn't have to change more radically than it has numerous times in the past for the sanity water... (read more)

2pdf23ds11yDo you mean "easier than AGI"? Why? With enough computing power, the hardest thing to do would probably be to supply the sensory inputs and do something useful with the motor outputs. With destructive uploading you don't even need nanotech. It doesn't seem like it requires any incredible new insights into the brain or intelligence in general.
9MichaelVassar11yUploading is likely to require a lot of basic science, though not the depth of insight required for AGI. That same science will also make AGI much easier while most progress towards AGI contributes less though not nothing to uploading. With all the science done there is still a HUGE engineering project. Engineering is done in near mode but very easy to talk about in far mode. People hand-wave the details and assume that it's a matter of throwing money at a problem, but large technically demanding engineering projects fail or are greatly delayed all the time even if they have money and large novel projects have a great deal of difficulty attracting large amounts of funding. GOFAI is like trying to fly by flapping giant bird wings with your arms. Magical thinking. Evolutionary approaches to AI are like platinum jet-packs. Simple, easy to make, inordinately expensive and stupidly hard to control. Uploading is like building a bird from scratch. It would Definitely work really well if people could just get all the bugs out, but it's a big, complicated, insanely expensive, and judging by history there will be lots of bugs. Neuromorphic AI is like trying to build a bird while looking for insights and then building an airplane when you understand how birds work. FAI is like trying to build a floating magnetic airship. It sounds casually like something that is significantly more likely to be possible than not but we have very little idea in practice how its done, nothing in nature to imitate, and no promise that the necessary high-level insights required to pull it off are humanly achievable. OTOH, since we haven't looked very hard as a species, we also have no good reason to think they aren't so it basically falls to your priors.
4Jordan11yI think the primary point overlooked when thinking about uploads is that there are milestones along the way that will greatly increase funding and overall motivation. I'm confident that if a rough mouse brain could be uploaded then the response from governments and the private sector would be tremendous. There are plenty of smart people and organizations in the world that would understand the potential of human uploads once basic feasibility had been demonstrated. The engineering project would still be daunting, of course, but the economic incentive would plainly be seen as the greatest in history.
2MichaelVassar11ySorry, but with today's industry and government sectors I don't buy it. Not for uploads, not for aging. This awareness already happened with MNT, but it didn't have the effect in question.
3Kaj_Sotala11ySuccessfully uploading a mouse brain - and possibly also the radical extension of the lifespan of a mouse - would seem to me like it'd get as much media attention as Dolly the Sheep did. Has there been some MNT demonstration that would've gotten an equivalent amount of publicity? Though judging from the reaction to Dolly, the reaction might be an anti-uploading backlash just as well as a positive one.
2Paul Crowley11yMNT == molecular nanotechnology?
2MichaelGR11yIf you want to learn more about WBE and the challenges ahead, this is probably the best place to start: Whole Brain Emulation: A Roadmap [http://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/Reports/2008-3.pdf] by Nick Bostrom and Anders Sandberg
2AngryParsley11yI think that's why Vassar is betting on AGI: it requires insight, but the rest of the necessary technology is already here. Uploading requires an engineering project involving advances in cryobiology, ultramicrotomes, scanning electron microscopes, and computer processors. There's no need for new insight, but the required technology advances are significant.

Burden of proof? Did you look at the giant amount of information already written on cryonics?

Fine, here are my answers to my own questions.

  • Do you think that the cryopreservation process itself damages the brain cells enough to destroy the mind?

No. Cryopreserving some tissues is common today. Organs from mammals have already been cryopreserved and transplanted. Electron micrographs of cryopreserved brain tissue show almost no degradation. There is an issue with microfractures, but the amount of information destroyed by them is minimal. The fractures ... (read more)

2wedrifid11yNice term. I hadn't heard it before. I read now that I am evidently supposed to find the term offensively pejorative [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corpsicle]. But I'll take tongue in cheek humour over dignity any day of the week.
2AngryParsley11yI guess as with other epithets, it's acceptable for members of the slighted group to use the term amongst themselves. :)

All the evidence you're suggesting is indirect and far removed from the actual goal. And the successes of organ/dog/etc. cryonics you keep mentioning, on inspection, have been subject to much more extreme constraints...

You have to test airfoils in wind tunnels before you can build a plane. Isn't all this stuff evidence in favor of cryonics? And "far removed"? I doubt either of us could tell the difference between rabbit kidney cells and human brain cells under a microscope.

You didn't answer any of the questions I asked. Maybe I should be more... (read more)

Untested? Mammalian organs have already been successfully cryopreserved, thawed, and transplanted. Cryopreserving organic material (including small multicellular life such as embryos) is commonplace now.

Unknown? Saturating a brain with cryoprotectant and preserving it in liquid nitrogen is going to preserve the information in it a lot better than burning it or burying it in the ground. Did you look at the electron micrographs of cryopreserved brain tissue?

If you're going to wait until you're confident cryonics will work, you'll have waited too long. The c... (read more)

2Vladimir_Nesov11yAs far as I can see from reading the abstract of this citation, there is no actual cooling down in liquid nitrogen involved, only perfusion with a cryoprotectant. Please give a quote, find another citation, or retract the claim (I don't follow the literature, so don't know whether the claim is true; the cited paper is from 1994, so a lot could've changed).
6AngryParsley11yFrom Greg Fahy's wikipedia article [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greg_Fahy]: Here's an abstract of the relevant paper [http://www.landesbioscience.com/journals/9/article/9974/] with a link to the PDF. I knew it had been done but I linked to the wrong abstract in my original post.

Alcor's patient care trust board is composed of people who are signed up for cryonics. A majority of members on the board must have a cryopreserved relative or significant other. They could try to use people they don't care about as guinea pigs, but there are also bylaws about ethically reviving people.

Like I said, most of the people at that gathering were not heroes; they were people who signed up out of common sense. Some of them were trying to cure cancer (literally) or get the whole world signed up for cryonics; those were the heroes.

I wonder if it's really so different from all the other decisions that parents take and that often end up saving kids lives (and thus giving them some responsibility for exposing them to an uncertain future).

Would someone face the same moral dilemma with seatbelts? I don't think so, but what's the difference?

It is possible that a far future would be a bad place for that child that you saved, but it is also possible for the near future to be a bad place (from poverty all the way to surviving a nuclear holocaust and living through The Road), yet we seem to b... (read more)

I was going to leave a comment simply stating:

"Eliezer Yudkowsky - the man who can make a blatantly off-topic post and be upvoted for it."

But it occurs to me I might be missing something, so explanation please.

There's a final filter in rationality where you take your ideas seriously, and a critical sub-filter is where you're willing to take ideas seriously even though the people around you don't.

Going to a group where cryonics was normal was a shift of perspective even for me, and here I thought I had conformity beat. It was what caused me to realize - no, parents who don't sign their kids up for cryonics really are doing something inexcusable; the mistake is not inevitable, it's just them.

5Roko11yI dunno, I think that we smart people have a tendency to look for perfectionism in ourselves, and demand it from others. I have spoken to many ordinary people about cryo, some quite smart, and their brains just go walla-walla-bonk crazy. In this regard, I see them as being rather like children who cannot help but eat the nice marshmallow in front of them.
3MichaelGR11yAnything specific you can share? I'm thinking about mentioning cryo to a few people, and am curious to know what kind of reaction to expect.
9Roko11yStrong negative emotional reactions, lots of psychological defense mechanisms activate, smart people say silly silly things. I'll never forget my best friend's girlfriend, a Cambridge medical student, saying that whilst cryonics, might save you from death, she said it was not certain to work and therefore "too risky".
2Kevin11yI blame the education system.

Signing up for cryonics is kind of the textbook example of applied rationality around here, much as theism is the textbook example of applied irrationality, so I think it's interesting to know what kind of people did it, and why.

4nerzhin11yQuibble: "theism" itself isn't so much applied irrationality - that would be something more like wasting time at church, or buying lottery tickets - an action with a tangible cost.
7bgrah44911yThis is a sly way of still saying that but not taking the karma hit. (Upvoted, btw)
6bgrah44911yLearning new very-specific words that completely nail a phenomenon I'm trying to describe is something I really enjoy, and it doesn't happen too often. Thanks!
3Cyan11yMy pleasure. (It was a joint effort: my vague recollection that there was a term that means "mentioning without mentioning" plus Google equals... a lot of karma points, apparently.)
2gwern8yVery positive too. Hard to ask for more favorable coverage than that.
1shminux8yMaybe too favorable, given that the author does not question the time frame of only decades until revival.
2Blueberry11yIt should be around 1 in 400 for males in their 20s and 1 in 1000 for females in their 20s.

Consider this hypothetical situation:

Medical grade nanobots capable of rendering people immortal exist. They're a one time injection that protect you from all disease forever. Do you and your family accept the treatment? If so, you're essentially guaranteeing your family will survive until the singularity, at which point a malevolent singleton might take over the universe and do all sorts of nasty things to you.

I agree that cryonics is scarier than the hypothetical, but the issue at hand isn't actually different.

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.

4Alicorn11yI'm rather the opposite. My feelings can best be summed up by a Pirates of Penzance quote rather than a webcomic:
3RobinZ11yOriginal link: http://www.ozyandmillie.org/d/20030324.html [http://www.ozyandmillie.org/d/20030324.html]
3CronoDAS11y(In other words: "I love humanity. It's people I can't stand." - Linus van Pelt)?

Even in a world where cryonics works, we could imagine a "cryonics scam" where a company took money for cryonics and then didn't freeze/revive people.

My biggest concern with cryonics is whether my consciousness could be transferred to a new body. I'm still skeptical about how consciousness is formed exactly. I'm skeptical that if an exact (to the atomic scale) replica of my brain is created, that it might not be me.

It sounds like you are worried about philosophical zombies.

The key point of the linked article is that an atom for atom replica of your brain would direct its body to talk about its consious experiences for the same reason you talk about your consious experiences, so it would be an astound... (read more)

I already had a reasonably good grasp of some parts of our culture as far back as I remember. I'm also already having trouble really keeping up with the world as it is now - I have trouble remembering that cell phones and laptops are commonplace, for example.

My model of how comprehension of culture works is based on the Critical Period Hypothesis - I suspect that we get one burst of really good ability to pick that kind of concept up, and then have a much lower ability for the rest of our lives.

It does occur to me that the kind of advanced science that wou... (read more)

1gwern9yI'd put a much higher probability on that kind of 'advanced science' than on cryonics working, FWIW. The key ingredients like BDNF [https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Brain-derived_neurotrophic_factor] are already loosely known, and we already know a lot of drugs (like piracetam [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20095391]) that have effects on BDNF.

I have no interest in living forever.

Well, even if you were preserved, you still wouldn't live "forever". You could still die in an accident in some way that wouldn't allow you to be dethawed. You could still die from an illness that hasn't been cured yet. And you wouldn't survive the heat death of the universe.

But, why wouldn't you want to keep living? I hear this sentiment often and really don't understand it. I've always wanted to be immortal.

5AdeleneDawner11yI actually feel the same way. It's not going to stop me from signing up for cryo, though. The feeling isn't rational; if anything, I'd describe it as instinctual, since it seems to be fairly free-floating and I don't remember having believed anything that seems likely to have spawned it. I try not to build on it, but it has acquired some cruft over the years. The main component is the feeling that anything over about 1,000 years' lifetime is just crazy talk - literally unthinkable in a way that my brain classifies as 'impossible' for no good reason. A recurring crufty rationalization of this is the idea that I wouldn't be able to handle 1,000 years' worth of cultural change. Another component of the issue is the feeling that I have that eventually I'll be 'done' - I'll run out of interesting things to do, or just not want to continue for whatever reason. For no apparent reason, my brain attaches the idea '200 years old' to this bit. Of course, I also rather strongly suspect that if I live to be 1,000 (subjective) years old, I'll feel the same way, just with the numbers '10,000' and '2,000' where I have '1,000' and '200' now. Either way, it seems like living that long and finding out is a good solution to this problem.
2RichardKennaway11yYou've already handled ~50,000 years of cultural change.

You make the cryonics org a beneficiary of the life insurance, or even have the life insurance in their name, so the spouse can't get hold of it - a situation that has arisen a few times, apparently.

Indeed, but I wonder how they deal with passages like Revelation 14:11, Matthew 25:41, or Mark 9:43.

Frequently, by not knowing about them.

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.

They do, but they express it as either "the Bible was written by fallible men" or "it's all Deep Metaphor".

"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!

It seems obvious to me that if cryonics companies wanted more people to sign up, all they'd need to do is advertise a little. An ad compaign quelling top 10 parent fears would probably start causing people to sign up in droves. However, they remain quite quiet so I do assume that there's some kind techno-elitist thing going on ... they don't want everyone signing up.

5Eliezer Yudkowsky11yDoesn't, um, thinking about that for like 30 seconds tell you how unlikely it is?
5wedrifid11yDo you know why cryonics is not more heavily advertised? Thinking about it for 30 seconds gives me some hypotheses but I'm too socially distant to make a reliable guess.
6gwern11yI like the mockery explanation. Cryonics is as about as socially acceptable as furry fandom; if furries scraped up a few millions for some TV spots, do you think they would get more or less members in the long run? There is such a thing as bad publicity. And existing cryonics members might be exasperated - money used for advertising is money not used for research or long-term sustainability (I hear Alcor runs at a loss).
6JamesAndrix11yI'm pretty sure that at the root, most furries are furries because of anthropomorphized animal cartoon shows. I think a well designed commercial could push a lot of people over the edge. Thanks, now I have an entertaining conspiracy theory about Avatar.
4byrnema11yThis is a myth. Techno-filia is very much part of our culture. Science fiction dominates our movies. People would scramble to sign up for cryonics if the infrastructure was there and they were certain it wasn't a scam. But that's a big IF. And that's the IF -- this idea of parents not choosing cryonics because they're lousy parents is a huge MYTH invented right on the spot. Parents don't have access to cryonics. (If a cryonics company is reading this: I do suggest an ad campaign. I think the image you project should be 'safe household product': something completely established and solid that people can sign up for and sign out of easily -- just a basic, mundane service. No complications and lots of options. People aren't signing they're life away, they're buying a service. And it's just suspension till a later date -- I'd stay well clear of any utopian pseudo-religious stuff.)
7Eliezer Yudkowsky11yAFAICT your statement is simply false.
4gwillen11yI won't try to judge the original statement, but I do think that people believing cryonics to be a scam is a serious problem -- much more serious than I would have believed. I have talked to some friends (very bright friends with computer science backgrounds, in the process of getting college degrees) about the idea, and a shockingly large number of them seemed quite certain that Alcor was a scam. I managed to dissuade maybe one of those, but in the process I think I convinced at least one more that I was a sucker.
5Eliezer Yudkowsky11yReasoning by perceptual recognition. Cryonics seems weird and involves money, therefore it's perceptually recognized as a scam. The fact that it would be immensely labor-intensive to develop the suspension tech, isn't marketed well or at all really, and would have a very poor payoff on invested labor as scams go, will have little impact on this. The lightning-fast perceptual system hath spoken. I'm surprised that you say your friends are computer programmers. Programmers need to be capable of abstract thought.
1mattnewport11yIt has struck me that if you wanted to set out to create a profitable scam, cryonics looks like quite a good idea. I don't have any particular reason to think that actual cryonics companies are a scam but it does seem like something of a perfect crime. It's almost like a perfect Ponzi scheme.
1thomblake11yCurrently it is set up as a bit of a Ponzi scheme; without new people coming in (and donations) these companies wouldn't survive very long. But then, with a little tweaking you could apply that analysis to any business with customers to make it look like a Ponzi scheme.
2Paul Crowley11yCould you write this up in more detail somewhere? The claim is that the "patient care trust" doesn't need new customers to be financially viable, and should keep going even if the primary business fails. If this isn't true it would be worth drawing attention to.
1Eliezer Yudkowsky11yThis would require cryonics companies to lie about their finances. Otherwise they have no way to extract money from their reserves without alarming customers.
5Furcas11yI think byrnema has a point. I don't think most people are even aware that cryonics isn't sci-fi anymore.
9pengvado11yAnecdote: I read sci-fi as a kid, learned of the concept of cryonics, thought it was a good idea if it worked... and then it never occurred to me to research whether it was a real technology. Surely I would have heard of it if it was? Then years later I ran into a mention on OvercomingBias and signed up pretty much immediately.
4Paul Crowley11yThe way people say "it's science fiction" as if it tells you anything at all about the plausibility of what's under discussion drives me crazy. Doctor Who and communications satellites are both science fiction.
2Morendil11ySource ? A non-sustainable cryonics organization is one you don't want to be signed up with. These dewars use electricity (EDIT: oops, no they don't; substitute "rental for the space to store them").

You still need to create the nitrogen in the first place.

But you can read the financial statements yourself: http://www.alcor.org/Library/html/financial.html (Seriously, am I the only person here who can look things up? The answers are on, like, page 10.)

I should mention that I define 'running at a loss' as not being able to pay all bills out of either investment income or out of fees (membership dues, freezing fees, etc.); if there is a gap between expenses and the former, then they are running at a loss and depending on the charity of others to make it up.

And this is the case. In 2008, they spent $1.7 million - but they got 622k for freezing, and ~300k in fees & income, for a total of $990,999. In other words, Alcor is not currently self-sustaining.

(Why aren't they bankrupt? Because of $1,357,239 in 'contributions, gifts, and grants', and 'noncash contributions' of $753,979.)

2byrnema11yNot advertising is a clear signal. If any company wants the masses, they advertise to the masses. If Proctor & Gamble comes out with a great new detergent, they're not going to wait for people to do the research and find out about them.
5magfrump11yA clear signal that cryonics companies don't have an advertising budget?
2byrnema11yThe more I think about it the more likely it seems... So: finding out about them is the first barrier to entry.

is like men deciding abortion issues.

A truly Godwinesque objection. "You aren't x and I'm x so you can't judge me" seems a little bit too all-purpose.

That said, I generally agree with the sentiment. As Postrel might say, in general an individual making a decision has access to local, distributed information that is not accessible to anyone else, and so (all else being equal) is more likely to be a better judge than anyone else.

Sign up with a U.S. provider. Chances are you will die of some non-sudden illness and have the ability to fly to the U.S. at the end stage of your life.

2bogdanb11yDo you have any idea how hard it is for some of us to get a US Visa? What would I put on the application as purpose of visit? I guess tourism (it is a kind of time travel, isn't it?), but if I'm critically ill that might not work...

Assuming the vitrification technology is good enough for a sufficiently powerful Bayesian superintelligence to look at your frozen brain, and figure out "who you were" to the same resolution that your morning's waking self resembles the person who went to sleep that night.

But I don't think the person tomorrow is the same person as me today, either.

4MichaelVassar11yPoint 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.
5Kaj_Sotala11yWell, 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. :)

Please explain how suicide "logically" follows from what you call the "cyronics mindset".

One possible motivation for being interested in cryonics (mine, for instance) is that you value having enjoyable and novel experiences. There is a small probability that by having my brain preserved, I will gain access to a very large supply of these experiences. And as I currently judge such things, dying and having my brain rot would put a definite and irrevocable stop to having such experiences.

It would be stupid to commit suicide now, even if I ... (read more)

Taking the cryonics mindset to its logical conclusion, the most "rational" thing to do is commit suicide at age 30 and have yourself cryopreserved.

That might follow if you assign certain probabilities, utilities and discount factors, but it certainly isn't the obvious logical conclusion. Even for most cryonics advocates, very likely living for at least 40 years more beats the a small extra chance of being revived in the future. "Paying a bit extra for the chance of being revived later on is worth it" does not equal "killing your... (read more)

No, because cryonics is expected to improve dramatically during our lifetimes. So the longer you wait to be preserved, the more likely it will work.

AngryParsley did a good job summing it up below.

1) While death is inevitable, payout is not.

2) Investment income.

3) Inflation eroding the true cost of the payout.

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.

2Alicorn11yRefraining 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.

Prime Intellect was like this close to being Friendly.

3Eliezer Yudkowsky11yYep, you've got to get your AI like 99.8% right for it to go wrong that way.
2wedrifid11yAnd 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.

For the record, does anyone have a good website I can link my father to containing a reasonably persuasive case for signing up for cryonics? He's a smart guy and skilled at Traditional Rationality; I think he can be persuaded to sign up, but I don't know if I can persuade him. (When I told him the actual price of cryonics, his response was something like "Sure, you can preserve someone for that amount, but revival, once it exists, would probably cost the equivalent of millions of dollars, and who would pay for that?")

5Morendil11yThe technology to revive suspendees will likely cost billions to develop, but who cares about development costs? What matters is the cost per procedure, and we already have "magical" technologies which carry only a reasonable cost per use, for instance MRI scanning. The Future of Humanity Institute has a technological roadmap for Whole Brain Emulation which tantalizingly mentions MRI as a technology which already has close to the required resolution to scan brains at a resolution suitable for emulation. Freezing is itself a primitive technology, it's only the small scale at which it is currently implemented which keeps the costs high. You don't need to look very far to see how cheap advanced-to-the-point-of-magical technology can get, given economies of scale; it's sitting on your desk, or in your pocket. If it is feasible at all, and if it is ever done at scale, it will be cheap. This last could be a very big if: current levels of adoption are not encouraging. However, you can expect that as soon as the technical feasibility is proven many more people are going to develop an interest in cryonics. Even assuming no singularity and no nanotech, a relatively modest extrapolation from current technology would be enough get us to "uploads" from frozen brains. Of course, reaching the tech level is only half the story - you'd still have to prove that in practice the emulated brains are "the same people". Our understanding of how the brain implements consciousness might be flawed, perhaps Penrose turns out to be right after all, etc.
2CronoDAS11yYeah, Penrose's position that the human brain is a hypercomputer isn't really supported by known physics, but there's still enough unknown and poorly understood physics that it can't be ruled out. His "proof" that human brains are hypercomputers based on applying Godel's incompleteness theorem to human mathematical reasoning, however, missed the obvious loophole: Godel's theorem only applies to consistent systems, and human reasoning is anything but consistent!
4Paul Crowley11yRevival when first developed will probably cost the equivalent of hundreds of millions. You won't be revived until the cost is much lower; if progress continues and UFAI is avoided, I can't see how that can fail to happen.
3Eneasz11yTry You Only Live Twice ( http://lesswrong.com/lw/wq/you_only_live_twice/ [http://lesswrong.com/lw/wq/you_only_live_twice/] ) perhaps?

Dammit quanticle, I'm an engineer/biochemist/statistician, not an economist!

I cannot make heads nor tails of what you're trying to convey.

3Vladimir_Nesov11yHmm... At least the content of my position seems to have been rehashed a lot, even if you won't agree with it. I believe that your opinion about what your values are has very little influence on what your values actually are, which in the backbone are human-universal values plus a lot of person-specific detail that is so below the level of conscious understanding that isn't even worth speculating about. Whenever someone states an opinion about their values being extreme, they are seriously wrong about their actual values. Consequently, acting on the misconstrued values is against the person's own actual values.
5Alicorn11yI don't grant nearly as much credence to the idea that there are human-universal values as most people around here seem to. People are a wacky, diverse bunch. Also, if you have an idea about what my values Really Are that is unconnected to what I tell you about them, I don't want you anywhere near any decisions about my life. Back! Back! The power of my value of self-determination compels you!
2Kaj_Sotala11yI don't recall hearing that kind of an argument presented here anywhere. Yes, there have been arguments about your values shifting [http://lesswrong.com/lw/uu/why_does_power_corrupt/] when you happen to achieve power, as well as seemingly altruistic behavior actually working to promote individual fitness [http://lesswrong.com/lw/uv/ends_dont_justify_means_among_humans/]. But I don't think anybody has yet claimed that whenever somebody feels they have extreme values, they are wrong about them. Furthermore - if the discussion in those referenced posts is the one you're referring to - I'd be hesitant to claim that the consciously held values are false values. People might actually end up acting on the non-conscious values more than they do on the conscious ones, but that's no grounds for simply saying "your declared values are false and not worth attention [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Fully_general_counterargument]". If you went down that route, you might as well start saying that since all ethics is rationalization anyway [http://lesswrong.com/lw/18l/ethics_as_a_black_box_function/], then any consequentialist arguments that didn't aim at promoting the maximum fitness of your genes were irrelevant. Not to mention that I would be very, very skeptical of any attempts to claim you knew someone else's values better than they did [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Other-optimizing]. There have also been posts specifically arguing that those non-conscious values might not actually be your true values [http://lesswrong.com/lw/v4/which_parts_are_me/].

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.

3Alicorn11y1. 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.
5Eliezer Yudkowsky11yI 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.
3AngryParsley11yIf 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.

...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.)

9gwern11yBecause the last time you woke up in a brand-new world with no friends turned out so badly?
3Alicorn11yIf 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.
3gwern11yFor 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?
2AngryParsley11yIf 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?
2mattnewport11yAre 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.
2Alicorn11yI'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.

Choosing the status quo is still making a decision.

Things that work are usually not called scams.

The point is the other side of the implication: things that are not scams don't always work.

1byrnema11yYou are thinking of scam in the sense of 'deliberate fraud'. A quick survey of definitions on the web support your sense as by far the dominant one, and mine more or less non-existent. I was meaning scam in the sense of wasting your money, and certainly including the case of deliberate fraud. Think about it from the point of view of the mother that must make smart economical decisions in order to make sure the bills are paid each month; if she told me that cryonics was a 'scam' I would understand her meaning. I think Eliezer describes this sense of scam quite well here [http://lesswrong.com/lw/1mc/normal_cryonics/1krh], because indeed it doesn't make a difference for this sense if the cryonics companies have good intentions, and are working really intensively, and are in the hole financially. I just disagree there is any problem with this quick perception, from that mother's point of view. She's still thinking, 'a fool and his money are easily parted'. I'm not such a mother. I bought two of those "One Laptop Per Child" OLPC laptops for $400 two years ago. I was willing to invest in an idea I cared about, even though it didn't seem like it was going to work. Were they a scam? I think they had great intentions ... but if there isn't a child somewhere with a laptop because of my purchase, then, yes, they were. Even if this is just because OLPC hadn't anticipated that adults would take the laptops and resell them. And, finally, I don't know for certain but I suspect that many of the medium-type persons that contact relatives and tell fortunes have sincere intentions of some kind.
2Paul Crowley11yNow that you've discovered the standard meaning of the phrase "scam", I think it would be best if we stuck to it rather than gratuitously switching to a private language. Perhaps there is another term that covers the whole category of expenditures that don't work out the way you want.
3byrnema11yPerhaps we're coming from different perspectives, but my point of view is that you're being gratuitously aggressive. (Consider the wording of your first two sentences and imagine it read with a snarl, as I did.) Is that going to be the general result of this post [http://lesswrong.com/lw/1p1/logical_rudeness/] here on Less Wrong? I don't make big sweeping apologies unless it (a) actually matters, and I feel badly or (b) the polite context of the exchange is established so that it is not an unfair status hit. If you insist of making me take a status hit that I think is unfair -- even though I've lost karma for this whole exchange, and MichaelGR already told me [http://lesswrong.com/lw/1mc/normal_cryonics/1hz0] he didn't agree with my use of the word, and I already sound like a jerk throughout the whole exchange because I keep changing my mind about whether or not people think cryonics is a deliberate scam -- then I'll have to admit that I just don't think my broader usage of 'scam' is so uncommon. Here are 2 examples of people using 'scam' in the sense I mean. The Bottled Water Scam [http://www.scoopdaily.com/2009/07/12/the-bottled-water-scam/] Whole Life Insurance is a Scam [http://www.scam.com/showthread.php?t=115360] So that I only want to reply sarcastically so sorry I used a word that wasn't immediately agreed with by everyone. I am including all of this as an immediate-case-study response relevant to the post Logical Rudeness, to write what goes through my head when I'm pressed for a formal statement of defeat when I felt I had already made polite concessions. I think otherwise -- without the reason to call attention to these thoughts -- I would have just written something slightly passive aggressive, but mostly even more concessionary then the latest concession.
2Paul Crowley11yEveryone's in a mood on LW today, it seems, and I don't exclude myself. I meant to come across with a much lighter tone than that, to be sure, and I don't mean to commit the sin that C S Lewis describes so well in "The Screwtape Letters" of insisting that one's own words be taken strictly at face value while reading every possible connotation and side meaning into the words of others. But I really do think that using the term "scam" in this way is inadvisable, and that the links you provide are using the term in a hyperbolic way, to smuggle in the implication of insincerity on the part of the providers without proof. I really think that "scam" denotes the wrong concept and certainly strongly carries the wrong connotations. whpearson's suggestion of "boondoggle" is a good one. I'm not sure how to address what you say about "status". But I like to think that one of the things we're better at here is conceding gracefully and accepting it gracefully. If I've given the discussion an emotional charge that makes that difficult, that wasn't my intent.
3whpearson11yHow about Boondoggle [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boondoggle_\(project\])

Other monotonic transformations don't preserve preferences over gambles.

If he and I are confused, you are seriously failing to describe your situation.

Yes, this is very likely. I don't think I ever claimed that the problem wasn't in how I was explaining myself; but a fact about my explanation isn't a fact about the (poorly) explained phenomenon.

Bayesian super-intelligences can figure out how to fix the issues you have, even with the handicap of making sure their intervention is acceptable to you.

I can figure out how to fix the issues I have too: I'm in the process of befriending some more cryonics-friendly people. Why... (read more)

Why does fault matter?

I hope you don't mind the clarification, but I think you've underestimated the extent to which I negatively value a scenario in which my daughter comes to mental anguish that I cannot experience with her. (For example, I'm not too concerned about a satisfactory family unit, as long as my daughter is psychologically healthy.)

I realize this is probably weird coming from me, considering my own cryonics hangup, but we're already assuming they won't revive anyone they can't render passably physically healthy - I think they'd make some effort to take the same... (read more)

4Eliezer Yudkowsky11yNo it's not. It's just scary. You really, really think that this, on the one hand, is "obvious", but on the other hand, a superintelligence is going to look inside your head and go, "Huh, I just can't figure that out." YOU ARE A SMALL CHILD. We all are. I know that, why can't everyone see it?
3AdeleneDawner11yAm I parsing this correctly? You're intending to say that Alicorn isn't really experiencing what she's reporting that she is, but is instead just making it up to avoid acknowledging a fear of cryonics? That's fairly obviously wrong: If Alicorn really was scared of cryonics, the easiest thing for her to do would be to ignore the discussions, not try to solve her stated problem. It's also pretty offensive for you to keep suggesting that. Do you really think you're in a better position to know about her than she's in to know about herself? You're implying a severe lack of insight on her part when you say things like that.
5Eliezer Yudkowsky11yI am not suggesting that Alicorn is anything other than what she thinks she is. But when she suggests that she has psychological problems a superintelligence can't solve, she is treading upon my territory. It is not minimizing her problem to suggest that, honestly, human brains and their emotions would just not be that hard for a superintelligence to understand, predict, or place in a situation where happiness is attainable. There simply isn't anything Alicorn could feel, or any human brain could feel, which justifies the sequitur, "a superintelligence couldn't understand or handle my problems!" You get to say that to your friends, your sister, your mother, and certainly to me, but you don't get to shout it at a superintelligence because that is silly. Human brains just don't have that kind of complicated in them. I am not suggesting any lack of self-insight whatsoever. I am suggesting that Alicorn lacks insight into superintelligences.
3AdeleneDawner11yI see at least one plausible case where an AI couldn't solve the problem: All it takes is for none of Alicorn's friends to be cryopreserved and for it to require significantly more than 5 hours for her brain to naturally perform the neurological changes involved in going from considering someone a stranger to considering them a friend. (I'm assuming that she'd consider speeding up that process to be an unacceptable brain modification. ETA: And that being asked if a particular solution would be acceptable is a significant part of making that solution acceptable, such that suggested solutions [http://lesswrong.com/lw/1mc/normal_cryonics/1hu8] would not be acceptable if they hadn't already been suggested. (This is true for me, but may not be similarly true for Alicorn.))
3Alicorn11yThat's a... nasty way to describe one of my thousand shards of desire that I want to ensure gets satisfied.
4Eliezer Yudkowsky11yYour desire isn't the problem. Maybe it was poorly phrased; "psychological challenge" or "psychological task for superintelligence to perform" or something like that. The problem is finding you a friend, not eliminating your desire for one. Sorry that this happened to match a common phrase with a different meaning.
2Alicorn11yI'm going to outright ignore you on this one. I have been met with incredulity, not mere curiosity ("Can you tell us more about the experiences you've had that let you model this extreme need?"), let alone commiseration ("wow, me too! let's make friends and sign up together and solve each other's problems!") when I have described this need here. This tells me that what I have going on is really weird and nobody here has accurately modeled it. I do not think you can make predictions about this characteristic of mine when you are still so confused about it. A FAI probably could. You aren't one. And since I know more about the phenomenon than you, I'm going to trust my predictions about what the FAI would say on inspecting my brain over yours. I think it'd say "wow, she would not hold up well without any loved ones nearby for longer than a few hours, unless I messed with her in ways she would not approve." You're raving. Perhaps you are deficient in a vitamin or mineral.
5Eliezer Yudkowsky11yI am not incredulous that you want friends! I am incredulous that you think not even a superintelligence could get them for you! This has nothing to do with you and your needs and your private inner life and everything to do with superintelligence! It wouldn't even have to do anything creepy! Human beings are simply not that complicated!
5thomblake11yUpvoted because: with that many exclamation points, how could you be wrong?

Can't you sign yourself up too, and go with her?

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?

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 Yudkowsky11yAlbeit 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.

For example, what if the choice is between spending more money on your current kids (like by signing them up for cryonics), and having more kids? By giving kid 1 immortality, you snuff out kid 2's chance at life. There are more life or not-life tradeoffs going on here than merely cryonics.

Maybe there are better examples out there, but this isn't very convincing to me.

The limiting factor on the number of kids that people have very rarely seems to be money, despite what some people will say. Actions speak louder than words, and the poor have more kids th... (read more)

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.

And I appreciate your concern about my down votes, but it's OK, I think I'm happily doomed to a constant zero karma status.

So that's why you chose your moniker...

Seriously, though, I doubt it. You're a contrarian here on cryonics and AI, but ISTM most of the downvotes have been due to misinterpretation or miscommunication (in both directions, but it's easier for you to learn our conversational idiosyncrasies than vice versa) rather than mere disagreement. As soon as you get involved in some discussions on other topics and grow more accustomed to the way we think and write, your karma will probably drift up whether you like it or not.

Indeed, but I wonder how they deal with passages like Revelation 14:11, Matthew 25:41, or Mark 9:43.

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.

2AllanCrossman11yI 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.
5RichardKennaway11yMany doctrines are collected here [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell_in_Christian_beliefs]. 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 [http://www.peeters-leuven.be/boekoverz.asp?nr=8085], 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 [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_o
4AllanCrossman11yIt'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".

I agree that this argument depends a lot on how you look at the idea of "evidence". But it's not just in the court-room evidence-set that the cryonics argument wouldn't pass.

Yes, that's very true. You persuasively argue that there is little scientific evidence that current cryonics will make revival possible.

But you are still conflating Bayesian evidence with scientific evidence. I wonder if you could provide a critique that says we shouldn't be using Bayesian evidence to make decisions (or at least decisions about cryonics), but rather scient... (read more)

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 ?

So at what point would you like to die no matter how well you're doing?

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... (read more)

Can anyone post a comparison of the services, (and other pros and cons) between Alcor and CI?

What are the arguments for either? Paying something like 2X price for a similar looking service implies that there should be a difference in the quality of service, perhaps the quality of the cryopreservation procedure. Maybe the most important one is the financial health of the company: the probability that they manage to exist long enough.

It's a generally true thing, not a worked out linear argument.

Which just goes to say, you see what I'm saying? There you go.

Again, I replied in the very same thread I linked to.

Remember that a lot of people who get life insurance policies cancel them before they die, or fall on hard times and can't pay the premiums. I'm 24 and healthy. I went the more expensive route and got whole life insurance, so my premiums are $64/month. With Alcor dues I end up spending about a grand per year on cryonics. Did I mention I picked what is basically the most expensive option? (Alcor whole body preservation with whole life insurance). You could easily cut that down to $300/year if you went w

... (read more)

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. ;)

"Children frozen in lakes" are not frozen, only hypothermic. If you actually get ice in your brain cells you die.

"Freezing" a person "cryonics-style" begins with drainging all the blood from their head, and the process takes more than a few minutes. So it is pretty much guaranteed to cause severe brain damage or death if you do it to a live person. Which means that it would not be legal, even if somebody had done that experiment they could not publish it.

You asked before and I replied:

I have a policy with Kansas City Life Insurance:

All these benefits come with a guarantee that your premium won’t change. The basic premium you agree to now will remain the same throughout the life of your policy.

So umm... yeah. That's how life insurance usually works.

ETA: This is the first time I've heard, "life insurance doesn't work" as an objection to cryonics.

Your comment is not internally consistent. You present a model which predicts that people will not sign up for cryonics even if they think it is not a scam.

The cost is different from the fee. You pay a flat fee to be put into a dewar after various unappetizing things are done to your body and brain to minimize damage.

The upkeep costs of the dewars are paid by the cryonics organization out of investment funds they have set up for the express purpose of being sustainable over the very long term. (A very good reason to lower your expectations of cryonics a notch would be to learn that some reputable cryonics company was hard hit by the subprime crisis or had given their money to Madoff to invest.)

Suggested reading: The First Immortal by Halperin.

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.

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.

That's far too grand a generalization for me to agree with.

And here I thought I had put in enough qualifiers to make it nearly a tautology.

Big pieces of the justice system (and more) in most places are built on the basis that it's not true, by the way.

I'd need to know what you're thinking of to dispute this, but I can think of one thing that might qualify: In justice, we don't want people to judge their own cases, since they'll act in their own interest. This doesn't apply to the general case, however, since acting in one's own interest is usually acceptable.

1bogdanb11yIt seems a quite specific statement to me. Reading liberally some qualifiers (“all else being equal” in particular can mean lots of things) this might become tautological, but I reflexively interpreted them as what I think you meant (since I didn't think you just made a useless statement). About the justice system, you got it right. Justice systems try to correct lots of bias sources. Not only the one you mentioned, but the “own interest” problem is especially pertinent to the origin of this thread (the example of “men deciding abortion issues”).

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.

So if I suspect I'm mentally unhealthy or ill-adjusted, I should just keep it to myself, rather than communicating honestly about my situation with a group of folks on the internet and running the risk of... making bgrah449 feel uncomfortable?

Got it.

Capital letters don't change math. Something is either a logical, rational conclusion given what you know or it isn't.

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 eterni... (read more)

3Larks11yProbably worth backing up though, in the form of a stone tablet adjacent to your body.
2Alicorn11yI 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 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.

2Alicorn11yIt 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?
7Eliezer Yudkowsky11yI 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.
4Kevin11yIf 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?
3wedrifid11yAnd the relevant question extends to the assumption behind the phrase 'and treated as such'. Do people have the right to be nuts in general?
2Alicorn11yI 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 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.

2mattnewport11y"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.

Also, I'm not sure if anyone has told you this before, but cognitive dissonance is supposed to be a private thing, like going to the bathroom or popping a zit.

I don't see why and didn't want the imagery.

Was this the get-together in Florida from the 8th to the 10th? I decided not to go since I assumed everyone would be from the atheist/libertarian/male/nerd/singularity/etc group. I'm glad to see I was wrong.

Given my age and health there's a < 1% chance that I will die in the next 20 years.

But with life insurance you only pay that <1% worth, so it balances out.

If the weirdness is a negative factor, then just don't tell anybody.

2mattnewport11yWell, life insurance by necessity does not give fair odds but I take your point. Not telling anybody doesn't solve the weirdness factor. I'd feel weird wearing a tin foil hat to prevent the government controlling my mind even if I only did it in secret.
4jimmy11yIf you know that the weirdness feeling is due to bad reasons, then tell it to go to hell :p In a world full of crazies the right answer is going to feel weird, so you might as well get used to the feeling.
4Eliezer Yudkowsky11yLife insurance companies need to make a profit, but there's a large gain from trade when you swap the life insurance proceeds for a cryonic suspension(1). The net return on the whole transaction is not necessarily negative. (1) Though technically, the gain from trade isn't just from trading money for cryonics, since money has no intrinsic value, just opportunity costs. The gain-from-trade comes from the three steps of (a) working some hours to get money, (b) trade small amounts of money in most Everett branches for large amounts of money in Everett branches where you die, which involves paying some overhead (c) trade life insurance proceeds for many hours in those branches. The gains emerge in steps (a) and (c).

This might get me blasted off the face of the Internet, but by my (admittedly primitive) calculations, there is a >95% chance that I will live to see the end of the world as we know it, whether that be a positive or negative end. I do not see any reason to sign up for cryonics, as it will merely constitute a drain on my currently available resources with no tangible benefit. I am further unconvinced that cryonics is a legitimate industry. I am, of course, open to argument, but I really can't see cryonics as something that would rationally inspire this sort of reaction.

3soreff11yI'm curious as to how you calculate that >95%. I ask because I, personally, overestimated the threats from what amounts to unfriendly AI at two points in time (during the Japanese 5th generation computer project, and during Lenat's CYC project), and I overestimated the threat from y2k (and I thought I had a solid lower bound on its effects from unprepared sectors of the economy at the time). Might you be doing something similar? Full disclosure: I have cryonics arrangements in place (with Alcor), but I'm unsure whether the odds of actually being revived or uploaded justify the (admittedly small) costs. Since I've signed up (around 1990 or so) I've revised my guess as to the odds downwards for a couple of reasons: (a) full Drexler/Merkle nanotech is taking much longer to be developed than I'd have guessed - "never" is still a distinct possibility (b) If we do get full nanotech, Robin Hanson's malthusian scenario of exploding upload replication looks chillingly plausible (c) During the Bush years, biodeathicists like Leon Kass actually got positions in high places. I'd anticipated that life extension might be a very hard technical problem - but not that there would be people in power actively trying to stop it.
4blogospheroid11yThink Global Soreff. Japan and China have huge aging populations. Their incentive to develop life extension treatments will be much greater than the biodeathicists ability to impede the same in the United States. China is facing a huge aging problem. They are probably the first country to get old before getting rich. if i were in the chinese politburo, I'd be POURING money into life extension research. Though why Japan already hasn't done so seems surprising from this viewpoint. Any ideas Why Japan hasn't poured money into healthspan extension?
2anonymoushero11yChinese cryonics? There are rumors, but nothing concrete. http://www.cryonics.org/immortalist/january05/letters.htm [http://www.cryonics.org/immortalist/january05/letters.htm] There are better results searching for "人体冷冻法 ", "人体冷冻学" or "人体冷冻技术": An article about Alcor ("ah-er-ke") http://news.xinhuanet.com/world/2005-12/13/content_3913137.htm [http://news.xinhuanet.com/world/2005-12/13/content_3913137.htm] On a related note, prospects for AGI research in China: http://www.hplusmagazine.com/articles/ai/chinese-singularity [http://www.hplusmagazine.com/articles/ai/chinese-singularity] Someone with working knowledge of hiragana/katakana might try the same for Japanese cryonics?
2Nick_Tarleton11yProbably no tangible benefit, but expected utility? Those few percent, or tenths of a percent, where cryonics saves you are worth a lot (assuming you have values that make cryonics worth considering in the first place). (Full disclosure: I'm not signed up, but only because I think cryonics costs would come from the same "far-mode speculative futurism" mental account [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_accounting] as better uses of money [http://intelligence.org/donate/], rather than "luxury consumption". If not for that consideration — which I'm not all that sure about in any case — the decision would be massively overdetermined [http://lesswrong.com/lw/wq/you_only_live_twice/].)

Ultimately I do believe the mind will be understood completely, just that it will be too late for us.

The whole point of cryonics is to push back when it will be too late, by preserving all the information about you that someone with a general understanding the human mind could use to reinstantiate your specific human mind. You don't need to understand the revival process at the time you are frozen.

The death and freezing for probably over a century of your brain, would be traumatic. Information would inevitably be lost.

This is incorrect. Modern cryonics does not use "freezing", but rather vitrification at liquid nitrogen temperatures (below -124°C), such that chemical reactions almost completely stop. (See the table at the bottom of this page and the section about the claim that "cryonics freezes people" on the Cryonics myths page.)

I suspect this community overemphasizes the extent to which human universals are applicable to individuals (as opposed to cultures), and underemphasizes individual variation. I should probably write a post regarding this at some point.

Lots of non-vitrified bodies are stored. I don't think any are discarded because they were impossible to vitrify, but some are discarded because they weren't frozen for too long, and Alcor note that this is controversial: see Neural Archaeology and Ethics of Non-ideal Cryonics Cases.

I'm expecting to have to wait a long subjective time before I get to meet James Bedford, put it that way!

(Updated to add "Ethics..." link)

2Vladimir_Nesov11yThanks for the links! From the first one [http://www.alcor.org/Library/html/NeuralArcheology.html]: From the second link [http://www.alcor.org/Library/html/ethicsnonidealcases.html]:
1Paul Crowley11ySure, but if I was Alcor or CI, I'd be wary of being seen to be over-eager to preserve (and so get the money). The best solution is probably to ask when you sign up.

Where did that number come from and what does it refer to?

Here's an audio interview from 5 days ago with Ben Best, the president of the Cryonics Institute:

http://itsrainmakingtime.com/2010/cryonics/

Mere framing, depending simply on what your brain thinks is normal. Visit a convention of cryonicists and talk to the kids signed up for cryonics. Those parents wouldn't think very highly of themselves if they didn't pay to sign up their kids. If their children died and were lost, they would hold themselves at fault. They're right.

3RobinZ11y(The obvious metaphor - so obvious, in fact, that it is not even a metaphor - is withholding lifesaving medical care. Consider how we feel about parents who refuse to treat their kid's cancer, for example.)
2Eliezer Yudkowsky11yYes, that is indeed the analogy - pardon me, classification - that I was looking for.

The best thing it could do would be retrieve my dead friends and family.

Out of curiosity - how accurate would the retrieval need to be? For instance, suppose the FAI accessed your memories and reconstructed your friends based on the information found there, extrapolating the bits you didn't know. Obviously they wouldn't be the same people, since the FAI had to make up a lot of stuff neither you nor it knew. But since the main model was a fit to your memories, they'd still seem just like your friends to you. Would you find that acceptable?

I'm not sure mind reading would be necessary. I hear Netflix does a pretty good job of guessing which movies people would like.

hardware

No. I'm software. My preferences stand even if you hypothetically implement me in silico.

your utility function

No. Geez, can we drop the "utility functions" and all the other consequentialism debris for like a week sometime? It would be a welcome respite.

Why?

It's a terminal value. We have a convention of not having to answer "why" about those.

I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to call bollocks on this. Jesus Christ, don't you want to live? Why aren't you currently opting for euthanasia on the risk you end up friendless tomorrow?

You can think of no scenarios between those two that would entice you to sign up? Your arguments seem really specious to me.

Certainly the internal state of a neuron includes things that are preserved by uploading other than the wiring diagram. Anyway, are you doing a calculation where another factor of 10 makes a critical difference?

2RolfAndreassen11yUploading, yes; but we were discussing cryonics. Uploading is a completely different question. Indeed, I would assign a rather higher probability to uploading preserving personality, than to cryonics doing so. And yes, I generally expect orders of magnitude to make a difference. If they don't, then your uncertainty is so large anyway that attempting a fake precision is just fooling yourself. Although... actually... it occurs to me that you could move the order of magnitude somewhere else. Suppose I kept your probability estimate of cryonics working, and multiplied the price by ten? Even by twenty? ... That does make a pretty fair chunk of my budget, but still. I think I'll have to revisit that calculation.

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.

Here's a simple metric to demonstrate why alternatives to cryonics could be preferred:

Suppose we calculate the overall value of living as the quantity of life multiplied by the quality of life. For lack of a better metric, we can rate our quality of life from 1 to 100. Thus one really good year (quality = 100) is equal to 100 really bad years (ql = 1). If you think quality of life is more important, you can use a larger metric, like 1 to 1000. But for our purposes, let's use a scale to 100.

Some transhumanists have calculated that your life expectancy ... (read more)

8Morendil11yTo put this in perspective, $300/year is the cost of my ACM subscription. That's a rounding error as far as increasing my quality of life is concerned, way below 5%.
4juliawise9yFor about a billion people in the world, $300 a year (or $500, as it sounds the numbers probably really are) would double their income, very probably increasing their quality of life dramatically. I'd rather give my money to them.

"Hi, you have cancer. Want an experimental treatment? It works with >5% probability and costs $500/year." "No thanks, I'll die and give the money to charity."

Strangely enough, I don't hear that nearly as often as the one against cryonics. And it's even worse, because signing up for cryonics means more people will be able to (economies of scale, looks less weird, more people hear of it).

Not to mention that most charities suck. But VillageReach does qualify.

Welcome to LessWrong!

While it's not relevant to Mornedil's point (about his own quality of life), this was my major objection to cryonics for a while as well. There are a couple of problems with it: Most people don't currently donate all their disposable income to charity. If you do, then a cryonics subscription would actually trade off with charitable donations; if you're like most people, it probably trades off with eating out, seeing movies and saving for retirement.

As MixedNuts points out below, most people don't hesitate to spend that much on accepted medical treatments that could save their lives; another, related point is that people on cryonics may not feel the need to spend millions on costly end-of-life treatments that will only extend their lives by a few months. A disproportionate high portion of medical costs come from the last year of life.

Thirdly, if you estimate the money spent on cryonics could save 20 lives in a third world country, you are choosing between extending 20 lives for a few decades and (possibly) extending one life for millions of years. Which side of that tradeoff you prefer depends a lot on your view of immortality.

Finally, ask yourself "If I was offered cryonics for free, would I sign up?" If not, this isn't your true rejection.

Most people don't currently donate all their disposable income to charity.

I do. I give away all my earnings and my husband gives about 20% of his, so we live on a much smaller budget than most people we know.

People on cryonics may not feel the need to spend millions on costly end-of-life treatments

This would be good. But it would be good if people laid off the end-of-life spending even without cryonics.

Finally, ask yourself "If I was offered cryonics for free, would I sign up?"

Maybe. I only heard of the idea a week ago - still thinking.

8Eliezer Yudkowsky9yYou have my great respect for this, and if you moreover endorse and you've got some sort of numerical lives-saved estimate on the charities you're donating to, then I will accept "Cryonics is not altruistically maximizing" from you and your husband - and only from you two. Unless you have kids, in which case you should sign them up.

numerical lives-saved estimate on the charities you're donating to

The metric I care more about is more like quality-adjusted life years than lives saved. We've been giving to Oxfam because they seem to be doing good work on changing systems (e.g. agricultural policy) that keep people in miserable situations addition to more micro, and thus measurable, stuff (e.g. mosquito nets). The lack of measurement does bother us, and our last donation was to their evaluation and monitoring department. I do understand that restricted donations aren't really restricted, but Oxfam indicated having donors give specifically to something as unpopular as evaluation does increase their willingness to increase its budget.

We may go with a more GiveWell-y choice next year.

Unless you have kids, in which case you should sign them up.

Only if I believe my (currently non-existing) children's lives are more valuable than other lives. Otherwise, I should fund a cryonics scholarship for someone who definitely wants it. Assuming I even think cryonics is a good use of money, which I'm currently not sure about.

The ethics of allocating lots of resources to our own children instead of other people's, and of making our own vs. adopting, is another thing I'm not sure about. If there are writings on LW about this topic, I haven't found them.

4multifoliaterose9yIn light of the sustainability concerns that Carl Shulman raises in paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 here [http://lesswrong.com/lw/38u/best_career_models_for_doing_research/33et]; I'm not sure that it's advisable to base the (major) life choice of having or adopting children on ethical considerations. That being said, if one is looking at the situation bloodlessly and without regard for personal satisfaction & sustainability, I'm reasonably sure that having or adopting children does not count as effective philanthropy. There are two relevant points here: (a) If one is committed to global welfare, the expected commitment to global welfare of one's (biological or adopted) children is lower than that of one's own commitment. On a biological level there's regression to the mean and at the environmental level though one's values does influence those of one's children, there's also a general tendency for children to rebel against their parents. (b) The philanthropic opportunity cost of having or adopting children is (in my opinion) so large as to eclipse the added value of a life in the developed world. The financial cost alone has been estimated as a quarter million dollars per child [http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2010/06/09/127600351/cost-to-raise-a-child-300-000] . And even if one considers the quality of life in the developed world to be so large so that one extra person living in the developed world is more important than hundreds of people in the developing world, to the extent that there are good existential risk reduction charities the calculation still comes out against having children (if the human race thrives in the future then our descendants will have much higher quality of life than people in the contemporary developed world).
4jefftk9yWhile we live on a much smaller budget than many people, we still have disposable income that we could choose to spend on cryonics instead of other things. If cryonics cost $500/year you would still have $28/week in discretionary money after the cryonics spending. Whether this makes sense depends on whether you think that you would get more happiness out of cryonics or that $10/week. As for me, I need to read more about cryonics. (Some background: As she wrote, julia is very unwilling to spend money on herself that could instead be going to helping other people. Because this leads to making yourself miserable, I decided to put $38/week into an account as a conditional gift, where the condition is that it can be spent on herself (or on gifts for people she knows personally) but not given away. So cryonics would not in our case actually mean less money given to charity.)
2utilitymonster9yDo you know about Giving What We Can [http://www.givingwhatwecan.org]? You may be interested in getting to know people in that community. Basically, it's a group of people that pledges to give 10% of their earnings to the most effective charities in the developing world. Feel free to PM me or reply if you want to know more.
1juliawise9yI'm familiar with it. Thanks for checking!
1multifoliaterose9ySee also my (ill-received) post Against Cryonics & For Cost-Effective Charity [http://lesswrong.com/lw/2kh/against_cryonics_for_costeffective_charity/].
5Paul Crowley11yI think this hugely underestimates both the probability and utility of reanimation. If I am revived, I expect to live for billions of years, and to eventually know a quality of life that would be off the end of any scale we can imagine.
2complexmeme11yI can't argue that cryonics would strike me as an excellent deal if I believed that, but that seems wildly optimistic.
3Paul Crowley11yThis seems an odd response. I'd understand a response that said "why on Earth do you anticipate that?" or one that said "I think I know why you anticipate that, here are some arguments against...". But "wildly optimistic" seems to me to make the mistake of offering "a literary criticism, not a scientific one [http://yudkowsky.net/rational/cognitive-biases]" - as if we knew more about how optimistic a future to expect than what sort of future to expect. These must come the other way around - we must first think about what we anticipate, and our level of optimism must flow from that.
1Vladimir_Nesov11yNot always - minds with the right preference produce surprising outcomes that couldn't be anticipated, of more or less anticipated good quality. (Expected Creative Surprises [http://lesswrong.com/lw/v7/expected_creative_surprises/])
4RichardKennaway11yThe best alternative to cryonics is to never need it -- to live long enough to be able to keep living longer, as new ways of living longer are developed. Cryonics is only an emergency lifeboat into the future. If you need the lifeboat you take it, but only when the ship is doomed.
5Paul Crowley11yOr as Ralph Merkle put it, "cryonic suspension is the second-worst thing that can happen to you".
3AdeleneDawner11y1. I don't think the 1 to 100 scale works; the scale should allow for negative numbers to accommodate some of the concepts that have been mentioned.For example, would you rather die at 50 years old, or live another decade while being constantly and pointlessly tortured, and then die? 2. It seems reasonable to assume that selection bias will work in our favor when considering the nature of the world in cases where the revival will work. This is debatable, but the debate shouldn't just be ignored. 3. Even assuming that your math is right, I'm having a hard time thinking of something that I could spend $300/year on that would give me a quality-of-life increase equivalent to 5% of the difference between the worse possible case (being tortured for a year) and the best possible case (being massively independently wealthy, having an awesome social life and plenty of interesting things to do with my time). I'd rate a week's vacation as less than 0.5% of the difference between those two, for example, and you can barely get plane tickets to somewhere interesting for $300. Edit: Flubbed the math. Point still stands, but not as strongly as I originally thought.
5jhuffman11yFor a single individual the cost is much more than $300. Alcor's website says membership is $478 annually, plus another $120 a year if you elect the stand-by option. Also you need $150K worth of life insurance, which will add a bit more. Peanuts! You say... I really don't see the point of signing up now, because I really don't see how you can avoid losing all the information in your mind to autolysis unless you get a standby or at least a very quick (within an hour or two) vitrification. That means I have to be in the right place, at the right time when I die and I simply don't think thats likely now - when any death I experience would almost certainly be sudden and it would be hours and hours before I'm vitrified. I mean, if I get a disease and have some warning then sure I'll consider a move to Phoenix and pay them their $20k surcharge (about a lifetime's worth of dues anyway) and pay for the procedure in cash up-front. There is no reason for me to put money into dues now when the net present value of those payments exceeds the surcharge they charge if you are a "last minute" patient. I understand this isn't an option if you don't have at least that much liquidity but since I happen to do so then it makes sense to me to keep it all (and future payments) under my control. Hopefully that decision is a long time from now and I'll be more optimistic about the whole business at that time. I'll also have better picture of my overall financial outlook and whether I'd rather spend that money on my children's future than my doubtful one.
2dilaudid11yjhuffman's point made me think of the following devil's advocacy: If someone is very confident of cryonics, say more than 99% confident, then they should have themselves preserved before death. They should really have themselves preserved immediately - otherwise there is a higher risk that they will die in a way that causes the destruction of their mind, than there is that cryonics will fail. The amount that they will be willing to pay would also be irrelevant - they won't need the money until after they are preserved. I appreciate that there are probably laws against preserving healthy adults, so this is strictly a thought experiment. As people get older their risk of death or brain damage increases. This means that as someone gets older the confidence level at which they should seek early preservation will decrease. Also as someone gets older their expected "natural" survival time decreases, by definition. This means the payoff for not seeking early preservation is reducing all the time. This seems to bring some force to the argument - if there is a 10% probability that cryonics will succeed, then I really can't see why anyone would let themselves get within 6 years of likely death - they are putting a second lifetime at risk for 6 years of less and less healthy life. Finally the confidence level relates to cost. If people can be shown to have a low level of confidence in cryonics, then their willingness to pay money should be lower. The figures I've seen quoted require a sum of $150,000. (Whether this is paid in life insurance or not is irrelevant - you must pay for it in the premium since, if you're going to keep the insurance until you die, the probability of the insurer paying out is 100%). If the probability of Cryonics working is 10%, then the average cost for a successful re-animation is $1.5 million. This is a pretty conservative cost I think - doubtless for some who read this blog it is small change. Not for me sadly though :)
2jhuffman11yI don't think anyone is that confident...at least I hope that they are not. Even if cryonics itself works there are so many other reasons revival would never happen; I outlined them near the bottom of the thread related to my original reply to this post already so I won't do so again. Suffice it to say, even if you had 100% confidence in both cryonics and future revival technology, you cannot have nearly 100% confidence in actually being revived. But if you are young and healthy and want to be preserved intact you can probably figure out how to do it; but it is risky and you need to take precautions which I don't know the least thing about... The last thing you want is to end up under a scalpel on a medical examiner's table, which is what often happens to people who die suddenly or violently.
1Vladimir_Nesov11yIt's information, it doesn't need to be found in the same form that is necessary for normal brain's function. If there is something else correlated with the info in question, or some kind of residue from which it's possible to infer what was there before, it's enough. Also, concepts in the brain seem to be coded holographically, so even a bullet in the brain may be recoverable from. (For the same reason, importance of vitrification seems overemphasised. I can't imagine information getting lost because of freezing damage. Of course, brain becomes broken, but info doesn't magically disappear because of that.)
2Paul Crowley11yMost cryonics literature concentrates on the possibility of direct bodily reanimation, not scanning and WBE.

Is your position a kind of unfunny joke, like you were put up to say this? It is only because I am open enough to the possibility that this is actually your opinion that I feel forced to bother with a rebuttal.

It is unreasonable in the extreme, given current knowledge about cryonics, to force your own beliefs of what every child that is born in the world should have, almost as unreasonable as your comparisons above: "Is it acceptable for the father in the ghetto to beat his child to death, because he's too poor to afford a psychologist?" Why? Bec... (read more)

2LucasSloan11yI believe that the acts of creation and destruction are not equivalent. Creating a life in the instant you murder does not absolve you of the latter. I do not believe that it is okay to eat meat, because you are allowing an animal to live, if only for a short while. Does that make sense? Maybe it is necessary to have children, and certainly I cannot prevent children from being born, but that does not mean that I have to like the fact that children are being born into intolerable situations, where they can never rise to the level of achievement, fulfillment and happiness I think all humans should. I was not joking when I said that, but I was comparing this world to a nowhere-place (utopia). Does that clarify my position?

You're assigning 0% probability to (cryonics_working|estimate_miscalibrated). Therefore you should buy the lottery ticket.

I have found this article which is about the same event (they even mention Eliezer as "an authority in the field of artificial intelligence"):

http://www.immortalhumans.com/what-type-of-personality-thinks-immortality-is-possible/

I can always use more friends!

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!)

5RobinZ11yIt's a feed agregator [http://code.reddit.com/wiki/help/friends]. There used to be a link on LessWrong to vie