My girlfriend/SO's grandfather died last night, running on a treadmill when his heart gave out.

He wasn't signed up for cryonics, of course.  She tried to convince him, and I tried myself a little the one time I met her grandparents.

"This didn't have to happen.  Fucking religion."

That's what my girlfriend said.

I asked her if I could share that with you, and she said yes.

Just so that we're clear that all the wonderful emotional benefits of self-delusion come with a price, and the price isn't just to you.

183 comments, sorted by
magical algorithm
Highlighting new comments since Today at 4:59 PM
Select new highlight date
Moderation Guidelines: Reign of Terror - I delete anything I judge to be annoying or counterproductiveexpand_more

Is it okay to prefer to be an organ donor instead of signing up for cryonics?

This is the only reason I haven't signed up.

What I want to do is sign up for neuropreservation and donate any organs and tissues from the neck down, but as far as I can tell that's not even remotely feasible. Alcor's procedure involves cooling the whole body to 0C and injecting the cryoprotectant before removing the head (and I can understand why perfusion would be a lot easier while the head is still attached). Also, I think it's doubtful that the cryonics team and the transplant team would coordinate with each other effectively, even if there were no technical obstacles.

You'd need reliable statistics on the average number of lives saved per organ donor. If it works out to 0.1 then I wouldn't accept that reply, no.

A Google search gives some hospitals and organizations claiming an average of 3.75 lives saved per organ donor.

I imagine this is the case per case of successful recovery. But a lot of people die such that their organs aren't recovered. That obviously needs to be factored in.

**On edit- It occurs to me that a lot of the cases where organs aren't recovered are also cases where cryogenic preservation wouldn't be possible. So I might be wrong about this. Maybe 3.75 is the right number to use.

Can someone think of cases where preservation is possible but organ recovery isn't?**

Can someone think of cases where preservation is possible but organ recovery isn't?

Elderly patient suffering organ failure due to aging. Death by cancer (not of the brain). Potential donor had HIV or othervery dangerous infectious diseases. Severe abdominal trauma.

Probably other stuff, too.

I'm actually pretty surprised that you haven't looked this up yourself yet. Is there a point of effectiveness at which you would switch to organ donation over cryopreservation?

ETA: Yes, I'm comparing you to a higher standard of rationality, diligence and altruism than I use for others, including myself.

Probably not, for two reasons. One, Kantian-type reasoning: Someone has to lead the way through the transition, since the ideal would be enough people cryosuspending that they could just integrate the organ donation protocols into it. Two, and more important, there's a nonzero possibility that someone ends up wanting my brain for something interesting Before It's Over - that I wouldn't literally be out of the game.

Do you also, simply, desire to live ?

Or do you mean to say that if your life didn't possess those useful qualities, then it would be better, for you, to forfeit cryonics, and have your organs donated, for instance ?

And I'm actually asking that question to other people here as well, who have altruistic arguments against cryonics. Is there an utility, a value your life has to have, like if you can contribute to something useful, in order to be cryopreserved ? For then that would be for the greatest good for the greatest number of people ?

A value below which, your life would be best not cryopreserved, and your body, used, for organ donations, or something equally destructive to you, but equally beneficial to other people (and certainly more beneficial than whatever value you could create yourself if you were alive) ?

This seems to assume that the probability that someone will be eventually successfully revived given that they have signed up for cryonics is >10%.

Personally, I'd rather sign up for cryonics. However, if your goal is to maximize the amount and quality of life lived, a plausible case can be made for either cryonics or organ donation. Organ donation will save some number of lives between 0 and maybe a dozen at best, depending on how you die. These lives will likely be elderly people who aren't signed up for cryonics. The money that would have gone to pay for your suspension can also be optimally donated to save some more lives; the most commonly tossed around number is 28 third-world lives vs. a high-quality suspension from Alcor. The benefit of cryonics depends on its chance of working, and on how long and happy your post-revival life would be. A detailed analysis is here. It came out that both options are pretty close, i.e. within the massive error bars of each other.

In conclusion, I'd say either preference is "okay." Go with your conscience.

Do you have any particular reason to care what lifestyle choices people here consider 'okay'?

Do you have any particular reason to suggest that every attempt to ask anyone else for advice makes the requester a conformist?

Not at all, which is precisely why I haven't done that.

CronoDAS wasn't asking for advice. Depending on how his question is interpreted, he was looking for permission / approval.

Depending on how his question is interpreted, he was looking for permission / approval.

Specifically, I expect that he's looking for community validation of the extremely low value he places on his own life.

Which is actually an interesting question, as I (unfortunately) don't think it's defensible to tell someone "No, your life is worth more than you personally value it at".

Some people have times when they are suicidally depressed. I think it's quite defensible to tell those people that their life is worth more than they personally value it at.

More generally, I don't see any strong reasons to expect people to be less mistaken about their own life worth than about any other sort of value judgment.

Also, I don't see any case yet for interpreting CronoDAS as doing anything more than simply asking a community that may have some insight into a given field (rationality), whether his reasoning or conclusions check out.

I think it's quite defensible to tell those people that their life is worth more than they personally value it at.

Yes, but valuable to whom? To themselves? That seems contradictory. To others? Sure, but what are you going to do about, tell them they can't do as they please with their life because other people value it more than they do? In some general sense of intrinsic value? That's going to be difficult to define.

Also, I don't see any case yet for interpreting CronoDAS as doing anything more than simply asking a community that may have some insight into a given field (rationality), whether his reasoning or conclusions check out.

This is an old comment so I no longer remember clearly, but he made remarks previously that were strongly indicative of my interpretation. I can possibly dig them up if you really wanted.

If memory serves, you've said that your plan is to wait until your parents die and then kill yourself. Even if you do that and donate your organs, you should cryopreserve your head for a chance at waking up in a world you'd want to live in or could better help you with that. It's much worse a strategy than just trying to live to see it, but still better than final death.

Are you sure you can undergo neuropreservation while donating your organs (in light of simpleton's comment)? Has it been done?

I don't know of such cases. From http://www.alcor.org/Library/html/neuropreservationfaq.html

"Neuroseparation" is performed by surgical removal of the body below the neck at the level of the sixth cervical vertebra at a temperature near 0ºC. - - The cephalon (head), is then perfused with cryoproectants via the carotid and vertebral arteries prior to deep cooling. For neuropatients cryopreserved before the year 2000, neuroseparation was performed at the end of cryoprotective perfusion via the aorta.

If I understand correctly, at least Alcor's current procedure for neuropreservation would be compatible with removing organs to be donated.

Thanks, it looks like I misremembered -- if they're now doing perfusion after neuroseparation then it's much more likely to be compatible with organ donation.

I've sent Alcor a question about this.

I doubt religion is a significant cause of not becoming persuaded. The walls of taboo around the subject and the strength of absurdity heuristic seem to me to be about as high in atheists' minds. At least, that's my experience, and it is in harmony with intuition about how to expect the state of affairs to be. Does anyone have any kind of anecdotal data points on that?

Well - it is my girlfriend who said it. I think the primary damage done by religion to atheists is the propagation of such things as "No one can possibly know" (which even some atheists unthinkingly repeat), a general tradition of avoiding the subject, an idea that you can say anything you want, and the contamination-by-association of any possible trick for living on after you stop by breathing.

The question you want is: in a world where religion had never existed, but people's reasoning abilities were otherwise mostly the same level, how many people would now be signed up for cryonics? This is the damage done by religion alone.

Arguably religion does the most damage by de-legitimizing concerns like immortality and discontinuous world-changing events by surrounding them with a cloud of wishful and otherwise mistaken thinking.

Anecdotal? Sure. I'm pretty much an atheist and I'm not signed up for cryonics (and likely never will).

Less-anecdotally, you could compare the amount of atheists and/or non-religious people, to the amount actually signed up for cryonics. Without having the numbers handy, I'd guess that at least shows religion doesn't tell the whole story.

Why? Are you the sort of person who refuses to use the save-points in computer games?

Right now, there's virtually no evidence that cryonics works. If I wanted to spend money on something not proven to work, I could do it much more cheaply - I bet someone on the street outside would happily sell me an immortality potion for like 5 bucks.

It makes a lot more sense to me to spend my money on things that will make my life better, for reals.

Right now, there's virtually no evidence that cryonics works.

What evidence would you expect if it did work (that is, if it was a true fact that N years in the future the cryonically preserved people will return to life)? What kind of evidence would you accept as sufficient to be persuaded that it works?

I tend to vacillate on the cryonics debate and for me its beside the point since I really can't afford it as a broke college student (who isn't particularly at risk of dying). But one can certainly imagine better evidence that it would work other than an actual revivification. All sorts of discoveries in cryobiology could provide additional evidence that cryonics will work. Better results freezing and reviving other animals, for example.

Inverting the event, you may say that you are looking for evidence that it will never, ever be possible to revive someone. What sort of evidence will work for that? You are not looking for what is impossible now, you are not looking at what will be impossible for the next 50 years. You are looking for what will never be possible.

I don't see how any details of the progress in technology are in the slightest relevant to that question.

That is a good point. But progress matter because there is a non-zero chance that some disaster strikes, or the cryogenics firm dissolves and you never get revived. I also think the farther into the future you get the less interested future people will be in reviving (by comparison) the mentally inferior. Plus I'd much rather wake up sooner than later since I'd rather not be so far behind my new contemporaries. So confidence that revival will be possible sooner than later increases the incentive to pay for the procedure.

Edit- also, the longer revivification technology takes the more likely the chances are for one of alicorn's dystopian scenarios. Plus the far future might be throughly repugnant to the values of the present day, even if it isn't a dystopia.

I also think the farther into the future you get the less interested future people will be in reviving (by comparison) the mentally inferior.

This sounds possible but not at all obvious. It seems to me that so far, interest in historical people and compassion for the mentally inferior have if anything increased over time. This certainly doesn't mean they'll continue to do so out into the far future, but it does mean I'd need some really good reasons to support expecting them to.

So I can envision future persons wanting to meet some people from the past for historical reasons as you say. But I'm not sure we'd bring back thousands of Homo Habilis if we had the chance. One or two might be interesting- but what would we do with thousands?

"Future persons" are not a monolithic agent; all it takes is one agent able and willing to revive you, maybe the cryonics organization. And as Mulciber said, compassion is a likely motivation as well.

Thousands would still only be one per ~million citizens. Cryonauts would be at least as rare.

That depends on on what the population is in the far far future and the future popularity of cryonics. The farther into the future we're talking about the more uncertainty we should have about these things. I was never claiming that it is particularly likely the preserved would be unwanted, just that such uncertainties give reason to be concerned with progress in cryobiology.

Frankly, I think that future societies will be so resources-rich that they'll revive everyone because the small increase in entertainment thus provided will easily pay for the costs. However, if that's not so, there's an advantage to being one of the rare early preservees over the common later ones you suppose might arise; we would have better novelty value, and we'd remember things from further back.

Don't think of hedonic entertainment, think of the subjectively objective right thing to do.

I don't know. After I met my hundredth white, male, transhumanist who died circa 2050 I'd probably go back to whatever I was doing before I started reviving people. I imagine if we're so resource rich there will be somewhat better forms of entertainment.

But yeah, If I sign up I'm definitely hoping people in the future are obsessed with stories from the past and will pay me quite a bit for them... since I really won't have any other marketable skills.

What kind of evidence would you accept as sufficient to be persuaded that it works?

Probably something like this scenario (I just made up):

Bob signs up for cryonics. Then Bob dies of something. So Bob gets frozen some time later. Then at some point in the future, Bob is brought back to life right as rain.

Basically, the process working ever would be evidence that the process might ever work. Until then, consider me in the 'control group'.

I think it was Mike Li who analogized this to refusing to get on an airplane until after it has arrived in France. The whole point of cryonics is as an ambulance ride to the future; once you're in the future, you don't need cryonics any more. I severely, severely doubt that anyone will ever again be frozen after the time a cryonics revival is possible.

Isn't there some gut, intuitive level on which you can see that your objection obviously makes no sense, because conditioning on the proposition that cryonics with present-day vitrification technology does in fact work as an ambulance ride to the future, we still would not expect to see a revival in the present time?

I think it was Mike Li who analogized this to refusing to get on an airplane until after it has arrived in France.

I take it more to be like refusing to get on an airplane until any one has arrived anywhere, ever.

For all I know, cryonics makes it harder to revive people. Not that I think it's likely that's the case, but it certainly doesn't seem worth my time and money.

It's like being the guy who checks the Wright brothers' calculations, finds them correct, and still refuses to leap onboard their untried prototype to escape a tiger, but instead prefers to stand and be eaten.

Look, conventional death makes it maximally hard to revive a person. Their information has dissipated. You would essentially need a time machine. Cryonics is a guaranteed improvement over that - at least you have something to work with.

It's like being the guy who checks the Wright brothers' calculations, finds them correct,

Perhaps more like the Wright brothers were planning to figure out how to land the plane after they throw it off a cliff. And your example throws out the benefits of not signing up for cryonics, which are a major factor for me.

Note that if Wright brothers didn't believe that there was a considerable chance of the plain not crashing, it would be a bad investment to build the plain in the first place. The question is about the cost: does the current state of knowledge support the positive outcome sufficiently to think of designing a plane? To design a plane? To build a plane? To perform an experiment, risking its destruction? To test-pilot a plane, risking one's life?

The same goes for cryonics, here you risk something like 100 bucks a year.

So they haven't figured out the landing gear. So you might break your neck, might break your arm - but the tiger is sprinting towards you! It certainly will eat you!

I'll take my odds against a tiger rather than a cliff any day. How confident are you that you won't live forever?

Sure - if Einstein signed up for cryonics, I might even follow suit. But a lot of really smart people are signing up for 'heaven', and I'm not listening to them, either.

Missing the point I think. Einstein wasn't stating this as any sort of appeal to authority. He was expressing his confidence in his mathematical proofs.

Mathematical proofs are an appeal to authority. Their standards rest entirely on the ability of experts on Mathematics to understand them. If we had a canonical mechanical proof-checker or something, it might be a different story.

But they were Einstein's proofs. He was confident in the math that he understood. If he were trying to convince someone else, then yes he'd be using himself as an authority.

Sure - if Einstein signed up for cryonics, I might even follow suit.

So, you concede that it's possible to know the outcome in advance without empirical observation of success.

Now, what makes Einstein a special person for this purpose? Can it be you that decides?

Sure, it could be me that decides. That's why I've decided. What's your point?

That was an allusion to this question, which you still haven't answered. If, in principle, you could indeed decide that successful revival is possible, based only on theoretical knowledge, before any successful revival was ever performed, then you should be able to explain what kind of indirect evidence it would take to persuade you that successful revival is sufficiently likely for you to decide to sign up for cryonics.

I severely, severely doubt that anyone will ever again be frozen after the time a cryonics revival is possible.

This is too unintuitive an assumption to use in a basic refutation. I doubt it's even true, if revival is performed by non-AGI means, simply because of improved preservation technology, which may well become possible at some point.

Agreed. Suppose we simply learn how to revive someone who's frozen first (unlikely, I know). Then, we would selectively freeze/unfreeze people based on the further limitations of medicine at the time (can treat gunshot wounds / can't treat lukemia)

Yes, that's one use case. I'm really not competent to estimate with any certainty how biologically feasible is that, and I assume it's not very feasible. If I remember correctly, the brains of currently preserved, even after vitrification, get cracked during the freezing, so they won't work even if unfrozen, detoxicated, etc. I don't know whether it's possible to find a solution to this problem with anything from the repertoire of current technology.

But the decision concerns the current situation. What do you answer on these questions?

Aside: it looks a lot more feasible to me if you don't try to repair the original biology, but rather try to extract information from it for re-instantiation. Then for example brain cracks become a problem in image-alignment rather than in nanosurgery.

This argument forced me to change my mind a little: indeed, to do the neurosurgery, you need an image anyway, possibly of the same order of resolution or even greater than required for scanning, so emulation may be easier than repair, and realignment of the image should be relatively easy once you have a scan. Still, I don't see emulation working for a long time still, I'd give it expected 60 to 150 years, and it's hard to say how the process will look at that point, on the progress of what kinds of technologies the feasibility of this process will depend.

That was "Whole Brain Emulation Roadmap" from the Future of Humanity Institute. (You shouldn't post bare links.) I'm sure aware of it. It's a feasibility study, and I'm sure it's feasible, so no great revelations there.

The problem is that this study is roughly analogous to estimating that the progress in steam engine technology will allow very fast and efficient trains eventually, which means that there will be fast trains based on some technology, if they are still needed, at least that good.

Which was basically my sentiment: you list all these technologies, but they, specifically, may be of little relevance. This isn't an argument for emulation to be infeasible. I also reserve an option for revival not being the best thing you can do with a dead body, but this is an argument this thread is too small to contain.

What kind of evidence would it take to convince you that cryonics has a small, but considerable chance of working in the future, prior to there being any successful revivals?

I don't like to deal in probabilities, but I'd reckon a successful revival of a dolphin would count. Short of that? Probably nothing, if by 'considerable' you mean 'worth spending my money on'. Things other than evidence might convince me though - like my wife wanting to sign up for cryonics for whatever fool reason.

Does it have to be a dolphin, or would successful revival of a mouse count?

Try not to look up if that's been done before you answer. If you do know, try to imagine whether you'd count it as evidence, if you didn't already know.

I don't like to deal in probabilities, but I'd reckon a successful revival of a dolphin would count.

No, that's out.

Short of that? Probably nothing, if by 'considerable' you mean 'worth spending my money on'.

Yes, I do mean that.

This means, that no matter what you observe, you always estimate the probability of cryonics working as very low, right up to the point where it does succeed (if that ever happens). Which is equivalent to a priori estimating the probability of it working eventually very low also.

Do you believe that progress will never be made, that it will never be possible to revive a very slowly changing frozen body? In 100 years? In 10000 years? Never ever?

Vitrification works in organs. Neurons are being simulated in software. Stem cells tech is improving. We already pretty much have the electron-microscope and chemical assay tech to dice, slice, scan and digitize a frozen brain. We don't yet know exactly what to digitize, but neuroscience is a heavily studied field.

The fact of revival isn't here yet, but the peripheral evidence is strong.

Vitrification works in organs. Neurons are being simulated in software. Stem cells tech is improving. We already pretty much have the electron-microscope and chemical assay tech to dice, slice, scan and digitize a frozen brain. We don't yet know exactly what to digitize, but neuroscience is a heavily studied field.

You may be surprised, but none of these arguments significantly move me. I think that damage is too great and complex for such techniques to work for a long time, and when something will finally become up to the task, the particular list of hacks you mention won't be relevant at all.

I've seen slides, the earliest ones were really wrecked by ice, but a modern vitrification process is much less destructive. Cryonics is going to be very much LIFO, but the last few in might well be fixable with barely more than hacks.

Less-anecdotally, you could compare the amount of atheists and/or non-religious people, to the amount actually signed up for cryonics.

I assume you mean to compare the ratio of atheists among general population to the ratio of atheists among signed up. Won't work very well, as the exposure to the argument is too tilted towards atheists, and it's too hard to correct for that

Nope, I meant compare amount signed up to the amount of atheists (raw numbers). That doesn't tell you whether religion is a factor in avoiding cryonics, but it does tell you whether religion is the only thing keeping everybody from signing up for cryonics. Since by far the majority of atheists are not signed up for cryonics, it's pretty clear that religion isn't what's stopping people.

ETA: Okay, Vladimir_Nesov (below) has convinced me I wasn't considering the same question.

Nope, I meant compare amount signed up to the amount of atheists (raw numbers).

That's silly. Too few people know of the idea, and it's too hard to persuade any given person. The question wasn't about absolute difficulty of getting the argument through, but on the relative effect of being religious on the ability of a person to accept the procedure.

I'm an atheist and I'm not currently persuaded by the case for cryonics. I'm unpersuaded purely on a (non-rigorous, informal) cost-benefit analysis. It just seems to me that there are better things to spend my money on. It seems to me that you can make a similar case for being a survivalist - stocking up on guns, ammo and emergency supplies in case of major disaster - and while the argument is sound I just don't judge the expected utility to be worth the outlay. The social stigma is certainly a factor in both cases.

t seems to me that you can make a similar case for being a survivalist - stocking up on guns, ammo and emergency supplies in case of major disaster - and while the argument is sound I just don't judge the expected utility to be worth the outlay.

Hmmm... Interesting point, I'm not at all sure how feasible the advantage of having a survivalist hideout is. On the other hand, my position on cryonics pushes the feasibility through the roof, so it's easier to decide.

A lot of the factors you have to consider when deciding the likelihood of being revived with cryonics are the same risk factors you'd consider for maintaining a survivalist hideout but operating in the opposite direction. The more likely you consider economic or social collapse, natural disasters or other societal disruptions which would make a cryonic revival less likely the more value you'd place on survivalist preparations. It's plausible to me that my chances for living long enough to see radical life extension become feasible would be improved by survivalist preparations to a greater extent than expending the same resources on cryonics would improve my chances of being revived at some future date. The relative benefits here would depend on age and other personal factors, though again I'm not claiming to have done a rigorous cost-benefit analysis.

Factors may be the same, but the probabilities of success are on the different sides of these factors. Where cryonics succeeds, survivalist hideout is likely unnecessary, but where cryonics fails, survivalist hideout is only useful within the border cases where the society breaks down, but it's still possible to survive. And there, how much does the advance preparation help? Groups of people will still be more powerful and resilient, so I'm not convinced it's of significant benefit.

I think the history of the 20th Century has quite a few examples of situations where society broke down to a large extent within certain regions and yet it was possible to survive (in a world which overall was progressing technologically) for long enough to relocate somewhere safer. Survival in those situations probably depends on luck to quite an extent but survivalist type preparations would likely have increased the chance of survival. The US (where cryonics seems to be most popular) did not really suffer any such situations in the 20th century, with the possible exception of a few natural disasters, but much of Europe and Asia did.

I think the main area where I differ from most cryonics advocates on the probability of it working is in the likelihood of the cryonics institution surviving intact until revival is possible. I think in a future scenario somewhat like WWII in Europe or the cultural revolution in China a cryonics institution would be unlikely to survive but human civilization would as would lucky and/or prepared individuals.

At a guess somewhere around a $250,000 value life insurance policy? I don't know how much that costs but somewhere around $2000 a year maybe? I could go and look it up but those are my off the top of my head guesses.

The Cryonics Institute does whole-body preservation for $28,000. (I looked it up.)

That is cheaper than I expected. Surprisingly cheap - storage costs must be pretty low if that covers initial preservation and enough funds for the investment return to cover storage in perpetuity.

Still, that money presumably has to fund storage costs in perpetuity. Assuming some of the money goes to up-front freezing costs, say you have $25,000 in 20 year TIPS yielding a fairly risk free inflation indexed 2.5%, you've got $625 a year to cover storage. That barely pays for a small self-storage unit around here. It's almost suspiciously cheap.

Liquid nitrogen is on the order of $80 - which is either the cost per month per cryostat or the cost per customer per year, I don't recall which. The Cryonics Institute owns its own building, and you can keep more than one body in a single cryostat (big cylinder of liquid nitrogen).

The annual fixed costs of cryonics are practically nothing. The costs would decline even further with economies of scale and the scale to invest in better technology. Immortality for everyone in the United States would be a rounding error in the stimulus bill.

For everyone? Well, there'd also be the cost of building the facilities... Anyways, maybe we really should try to push something like that? (Yeah yeah, I know, unlikely.)

Anyways, did you get the PM I sent? (About talking me through some of the specifics of actually signing up?)

I emailed The Cryonics Institute this morning with my details based on this application form - http://www.cryonics.org/LifeMem.html.

I got a reply almost immediately.

Then I sent $1,250 to CIHQ@aol.com via paypal.

And I'm signed up.

I also have to send a copy of the signed app form by post. I'm lucky enough to have saved up the $28,000 needed for the cryopreservation, but I reckon it's not too expensive to get a life insurance policy for the amount.

I have cheated on this decision by writing down the bottomline without figuring out an answer for myself. But if I had to give one reason to justify it, it's simple:

I want to live.

The arguments against cryonics in the comments here have any ground only in a world accustomed to disposable human life. Now I have a chance to wake up in a world which is not so.

Cool! (well, very cold, I guess... :)) and thanks.

I think I'll probably be doing the "link an insurance policy to it" thing instead, though.

I think I want to sign up as a neuro... but I think CI doesn't do those, only Alcor... Now the thing I'm trying to figure out is this: Are the Alcor membership fees the same for both whole body members and neuro members? Because, if so, it would seem that costs push me more toward CI. (seems silly that a full body suspension would be less expensive, but...)

Thanks Eliezer.

I am imagining waking up to see you on a plasma screen with a long white beard saying "Welcome. Didn't I tell you I'll see you 'round - eventually? Now look here, meet Bruce the Friendly AI".

Sorry that is pretty bad but I couldn't resist...

PM? Nope, I'm not sure how to check PMs here. (Can you please ask someone else, though? Almost anyone else in the world would probably be better...)

The button isn't there explicitly (There probably should be, but http://lesswrong.com/message/inbox/ should get you to your inbox)

And okay. The message explains why I was asking you in specific. Hopefully, given the context, there should be others I could ask instead. Well, thanks anyways.)

But yeah, I'm basically at a "okay. I want to sign up. I seem to be able to afford to. Now I just need to actually work out the steps to do so (including all the specific legal details I need to take care of to make it all work), decide on CI vs Alcor, etc..." stage.

And technically "almost anyone else in the world" is very unlikely. I mean, "the space of people that have actually signed up or are otherwise familiar with the specific details of doing so" is rather smaller, no? :)

But okay. Well, I may as well see if anyone else who sees this message and has already signed up would be available to talk me through some of that.

Try Rudi Hoffman, who sells cryonics-friendly life insurance policies and can talk you through other aspects as well. He handled mine.

Cost of facilities per person should go down significantly as the number of people gets large, right?

Also, don't bother with whole-body preservation. It's useless, because regrowing a body is the least of revival problems, and it's harmful, because your brain spends longer warm while the whole useless hunk of meat attached to it is cooling down. Plus it costs more.

Also, don't bother with whole-body preservation. It's useless, because regrowing a body is the least of revival problems,

I'd feel more comfortable with that if we knew more about the extent to which the glial cells around the heart -- not to mention the remainder of the nervous system -- play a role in learning, decisionmaking, emotion etc. I'd hate to lose any non-recoverable data from those systems and have to recreate it, e.g. learning to walk again or being missing emotional reactions, or who knows what else. I think I'd want to keep the "useless hunk of meat" around, just in case, even if it had to be separated from the head for better cooling.

If they did play such an important role in human thought, wouldn't you expect there to be case studies of people who become psychologically impaired after heart surgery (in particular, the installation of an artificial heart)?

CI only offers full-body, but it's cheaper than Alcor's neuro option.

I find that my absurdity heuristic gives a strong signal against. Also, we can't be certain that it will work and we can't be certain how well it will work. This makes it very hard for me to evaluate as an investment. If I can't quantify the payoff or the odds, how can I justify the expense?

I find that my absurdity heuristic gives a strong signal against. Also, we can't be certain that it will work and we can't be certain how well it will work.

That's how the absurdity heuristic is supposed to work. But sometimes, it goes hilariously wrong, turning into an absurdity bias. You can't be certain, but you can make estimates.

This makes it very hard for me to evaluate as an investment. If I can't quantify the payoff or the odds, how can I justify the expense?

Every time you decide one way or the other, you make an implicit estimate. If you decide not to invest, you basically state that, given you current knowledge, you judge the investment as not worthwhile. This is not at all the same as "not being able to evaluate". You have to, every time you need to make a decision. What remains is to make sense of your decision, trying to not get it wrong.

This may be a naïve question, but could someone make or link me to a good case for cryonics?

I know there's a fair probability that we could each be revived in the distant future if we sign up for cryonics, and that is worth the price of admission, but that always struck me as a mis-allocation of resources. Wouldn't it be better, for the time being, if we dispersed all the resources used on cryonics to worthwhile causes like Iodized salt, clean drinking water, or childhood immunization and instead gave up our organs for donation after death? Isn't the cryonics things one big fuzzy, or at least a luxury?

I'd agree that signing up for cryonics and being a traditional utilitarian (valuing all human life equally) aren't really compatible. I'm not a utilitarian so that's not my problem with cryonics but it does seem to be hard to reconcile the two positions. It's hard to reconcile any western lifestyle with traditional utilitarianism though so if that's your main concern with cryonics perhaps you need to reconsider your ethics rather than worry about cryonics.

It's hard to reconcile any western lifestyle with traditional utilitarianism though so if that's your main concern with cryonics perhaps you need to reconsider your ethics rather than worry about cryonics.

One of the beauties of utilitarianism is that its ethics can adapt to different circumstances without losing objectivity. I don't think every "western lifestyle" is necessarily reprobate under utilitarianism. First off, if westerners abandoned their western lifestyles, humanity would be sunk: next to the collapse of aggregate demand that would ensue, our present economic problems would look very mild. We can't all afford to be Gandhi. The rub is trying to avoid being a part of really harmful, unsustainable things like commercial ocean fishing or low fuel-efficiency cars without causing an ethically greater amount of inconvenience or economic harm.

All that said, I'd be really interested in reading a post by you on rationalist but non-utilitarian ethics. It seems to me that support for utilitarianism on this site is almost as strong as support for cryonics.

First off, if westerners abandoned their western lifestyles, humanity would be sunk: next to the collapse of aggregate demand that would ensue, our present economic problems would look very mild.

Universalizability arguments like this are non-utilitarian; it's the marginal utility of your decision (modulo Newcomblike situations) that matters.

The rub is trying to avoid being a part of really harmful, unsustainable things like commercial ocean fishing or low fuel-efficiency cars

It definitely seems to me that refraining from these things is so much less valuable than making substantial effective charitable contributions (preferably to existential risk reduction, of course, but still true of e.g. the best aid organizations), probably avoiding factory-farmed meat, and probably other things as well.

First off, if westerners abandoned their western lifestyles, humanity would be sunk: next to the collapse of aggregate demand that would ensue, our present economic problems would look very mild.

Interesting. I'm not certain, but I think this isn't quite right. In theory, the westerners would just be sending their money to desperately poor people, so aggregate demand wouldn't necessarily decline, it would move around. Consumption really doesn't create wealth. Of course rational utilitarian westerners would recognize the transfer costs and also wouldn't completely neglect their own happiness.

All that said, I'd be really interested in reading a post by you on rationalist but non-utilitarian ethics. It seems to me that support for utilitarianism on this site is almost as strong as support for cryonics.

Unless you believe in objective morality, then a policy of utilitarianism, pure selfishness, or pure altruism all may be instrumentally rational, depending on your terminal values.

If you have no regard for yourself then pursue pure altruism. Leave yourself just enough that you can keep producing more wealth for others. Study Mother Teresa.

If you have no regard for others, then a policy of selfishness is for you. Carefully plan to maximize your total future well-being. Leave just enough for others that you aren't outed as a sociopath. Study Anton LaVey.

If you have equal regard for the happiness of yourself and others, pursue utilitarianism. Study Rawls or John Stuart Mill.

Most people aren't really any of the above. I, like most people, am somewhere between LaVey and Mill. Of course defending utilitarianism sounds better than justifying egoism, so we get more of that.

Yeah, I heard about this on Bullshit with Penn & Teller. I considered choosing someone else, but Mother Teresa is still the easiest symbol of pure altruism. (That same episode included a smackdown on the Dalai Lama and Ghandi, so my options look pretty weak.

Yes, 'pure altruism' is a pretty weak position, and you won't find many proponents of it. Altruism as an ethical position doesn't make any sense; you keep pushing all of your utils on other people, but if you consider a 2-person system doing this, nobody actually gets to keep any of the utils.

Agreed, but under certain conditions relating to how much causal influence one has on others vs. oneself, utilitarianism and pure altruism lead to the same prescriptions. (I would argue these conditions are usually satisfied in practice.)

Gandhi? Really? My impression is that the "smackdown" on Gandhi is vastly, vastly less forceful than the smackdown on Teresa. Though I haven't watched that particular episode, I've read other critiques that seemed to be reaching as far as possible, and they didn't reach very far.

It mostly had to do with Gandhi being racist.

Perhaps you should reconsider the value of 'pure altruism'.

In theory, the westerners would just be sending their money to desperately poor people.

I'm not an economist, and but I think you could model that as a kind of demand. And I don't think I stipulated to there being a transfer of wealth.

Unless you believe in objective morality, then a policy of utilitarianism, pure selfishness, or pure altruism all may be instrumentally rational, depending on your terminal values.

For me, the interesting question is how one goes about choosing "terminal values." I refuse to believe that it is arbitrary or that all paths are of equal validity. I will contend without hesitation that John Stuart Mill was a better mind, a better rationalist, and a better man than Anton LaVey. My own thinking on these lines leads me to the conclusion of an "objective" morality, that is to say one with expressible boundaries and one that can be applied consistently to different agents. How do you choose your terminal values?