(x-post: LessDead)

Set-up: In a world that’s otherwise the same, an anthropomorphic God comes to you with a gun and a check, and offers you the following deal, should you accept it. (God can perfectly see the future and is honest.)

Dilemma: God will give you a check of X USD if you accept to be immediately and instantly killed iff the current cryonics protocole is sufficient to preserve identity.

Alternative: God kills you iff the following is true: If you were signed up for cryonics and died this year, you would get reanimated at some point in the future.

Question: What’s the minimum X for which you would accept this deal? What probability of dying are you trading this for?


Say 100,000 USD and 5%. This means this deal would give you:

  • 100% earning 100k USD
  • 5% of dying (right now, instead of ~0%)

If you die and get cryopreserved:

  • 100% losing 100k USD (i.e. a typical cost for state of the art cryonics)
  • 5% of living (instead of 0%)

If you die and don’t get cyropreserved:

  • 100% of saving 100k USD (by not paying for cryonics)
  • 5% more chance of dying (100% instead of 95%)

In this sense, taking the deal is similar to not getting cryopreserved (and vice versa).


There are significant disanologies of course:

  • The type of life you would live
  • How long you life would be if you didn’t die
  • The social cost of signing up for cryonics

I still think this might be a useful thought experiment to bring this dilemma to a more near mode way of thinking. It also reverses the default option.

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For anyone who thinks that cryonics is Pascal's mugging, this thought experiment amounts to "if you don't want to accept Pascal's mugging, how about I construct an opposite Pascal's mugging. I gotcha now--if you reject the first Pascal's mugging, you have to accept this one!" Cryonics is a Pascal's mugging with a small chance of a large benefit and a large chance of a smaller loss. This version is a small chance of a large harm and a large chance of a smaller benefit.

Pascal's mugging is a bad deal either way. I won't accept a very small X in this version merely because I think that the chance of success of cryonics is small, even if the calculation works out that way--the proper response to Pascal's mugging is to not calculate.

This is a very complicated and hard (for me) to internalize setup, meaning it doesn't evoke new framings, and doesn't serve any purpose (again, for me) as a thought experiment.  That it's stated with multiple levels of if and iff makes it harder, but I don't have any suggestions (except maybe a flowchart or decision matrix) to improve.

It also doesn't help that it mixes dollars and life, asking for a dollar value against the possibility (even if infinitesimal) of death.  Nor that it supposes an omniscient god, which if I had sufficient evidence to believe in the first place SERIOUSLY changes my expectations and probabilities.

And my underlying probability IS infinitesimal that I will die in a way that current cryopreservation systems (tech, legal, and social) will actually lead to my future resurrection.