Frank_McGahon

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When Science Can't Help

Ok, then say you are definitely going to die of that illness tonight - that is, you won't wake up in the morning. It's preposterous to suggest that any consolation would be provided by the notion that in some parallel universe a cure is invented and implemented overnight and "you" will wake up cured in that universe.

When Science Can't Help

Erik, in the event that RLE is already here - there will be no future stream of "paying customers" as they will surely avail themselves of RLE, that's what I meant. Therefore this market, at least, won't be driving innovation in the "how to revive a frozen brain" problem.

Fair point about how our own recording of information might look to future generations, however the many Methuselahs issue remains. It may be that my imagination is lacking or it may be that cryonics advocates are biased to overweight any indicators that cryonics might succeed but I can't see that the puported desire of future (social science) academics to defrost and revive a few cryonic customers (a handful is all you'd need) would be sufficient pressure to encourage (actual science) academics to solve a tricky (says my limited imagination) problem which would have no significant widespread benefit. I also stand by the notion that wills and foundations are different from (capricious) individuals.

Patrick, I think this is where people don't really adjust their intuitions properly about MW. It's not just that there's a branching off world for every major world event, or even every major personal event - it's an infinite or as near as makes no difference branching taking place all the time. You still have to live in your world. Your suggestion makes the same sense as saying that someone with an incurable illness ought to be hopeful when he falls asleep because he might wake up in a world where a cure for that illness has been discovered over night.

When Science Can't Help
..except for all that has already died while being signed up.

It's not like they're going to be in a position to lobby for it. And there's a world of a difference between a paying customer or potential customer and a will or foundation. The wishes of the dead are frequently flouted when convenient today - look at what happened to Nabakov's manuscript.

In any case, in the event that radical life extension is already here, there's just no need to solve the problem of defrosting frozen brains for paying customers so I'd expect that to be, at least, put on the back burner. Re defrosting today's individuals in the future for academic interest - given the amount of documentation of contemporary life, particularly when compared to the 19th century, I doubt that today's future frozen brains would hold much interest for future academics. And remember, we'd be talking about a time when radical life extension would be possible so there's bound to be plenty of methuselahs around to talk to - why bother going to the effort of figuring out how to defrost?

When Science Can't Help
Cryonics isn't a life extension strategy, it's an immortality gambit.

You have this the wrong way around. Cryonics can only succeed in the event of practical immortality being achieved which requires that radical life extension is achieved. It's a necessary (but importantly not sufficient) condition of revival that the technology exist to radically extend lifespans in which case there will be nobody signing up for cryonics and no market to develop the technology to defrost and revive.

When Science Can't Help

Sorry - I seem to have missed the end blockquote tag after "party hard in disaster flicks"...

When Science Can't Help

HA, I'll certainly go and read your blog but just to comment on your point:

I aspire to the position of contradicting your central presumption about me: that I would use my full resources in this life towards maximizing my persistence odds. The truth is, I think any other position is absurd, or a triumph of genes/species over me as a subjective conscious entity.

Your characterisation of the case against denial in this life with the promise of an eternal after-life (now that sounds familiar...) as if it were about the interests of the genes/species set against the individual is incorrect. There are perfectly selfish reasons not to devote significant amounts of money on an extremely improbable payoff.

The analogy I'm working with is not buying a lottery ticket for a chance at a big lifechanging payoff, it's more disaster movie survivalism. Current hedonism in the context of future nonexistence is just absurd to me, sort of like how it is in the people seeking to escape impending death rather than party hardy in disaster flicks.</>

Your analogy is leading you astray - in a given disaster flick there's a cast of, what?, less than 50. Less than 10 if you get to characters you actually care about. How many of the people who try, get to survive disaster movies? I'll pick a figure out of the air - two out of ten? 20% survival odds aren't bad. There's typically a window of, what, 90 minutes or less? For a 20% chance of eluding doom, it might indeed be worth forestalling 90 minutes of "party hard" aka "living".

Try a different disaster movie scenario - let's say there's an earth-bound asteroid. It's going to wipe out life on earth in 48 hours. There is no realistic probability of averting it. Do you try and build a spaceship, do you try and build your own missile to divert it off course or do you try and enjoy the time you have left. Assuming the probability of success (yours, the authority's or anyone else's) hasn't changed, is your answer any different if the asteroid is due in a month's time, a years time or a decade's time?

The only reason to persist is to live and there's no reason to postpone living in the hope that maybe, just maybe, someone will end up defrosting and reviving you after death.

When Science Can't Help

Cyan, oh, I get your point, I just think it's wrong to frame it as "on the one hand, on the other hand" as if the pro and con scenarios are equally likely and it's a toss-up between the two. The reason to point out that the very technology which is necessary for Cryonics to succeed is likely to make it obsolete and consequently unlikely to fulfil its promise is to illustrate a fatal flaw in the concept not to merely paint one pessimistic scenario. There are plenty of alternative pessimistic scenarios but none of which (individually that is) is a knockdown arguments against.

HA, to me that sounds like "I know I haven't got much of a chance of winning the lottery but if I'm not in I can't win and somebody's got to win it, right?". Sure, who wouldn't want to maximise ones persistence odds? but at what price? I'm fairly confident that you are not willing to assign your entire lifetime income minus a subsistence allowance towards Cryonics so there's obviously some price at which you decide it's not worth it. My point is that it's likely you have miscalculated that price and given the probability of all the scenarios necessary to fall in place for the payoff. If it's not worth wasting a couple of bucks on a lottery ticket for a lifechanging payoff it's certainly not worth wasting a much larger amount for an even more improbable payoff.

When Science Can't Help

Also - I'm assuming that postponing ageing for living people is easier than reviving dead people and is likely to arrive sooner. Not that I'm in anyway conversant with Bayesianism but I'm figuring it supports this assumption - technology to extend lifespan is, as far as I can see, a necessary component of reviving dead people. So the probability of the former is necessarily higher than the probability of the latter. There is no scenario in which reviving dead people arrives first and only a tiny probability that both technologies arrive simultaneously. This means that by the time it is possible to thaw and revive there is very little to compel cryonics companies to remain in business to avail of the technology and very little to compel them to honour their contracts.

A lot of the talk about this is of the Pascal's wager variety - "But the potential payoff is so high it justifies almost any expense, a good bet" this ignores a) forgive me, Bayesianism: multiplying the expected payoff by the appropriate probability of that payoff and b) the opportunity cost of the money it costs to sign uo for cryonics - these are not trifling sums, particularly when considered in the purported timespan of the payoff.

When Science Can't Help
We've heard from the cons, so here's a pro: at the point where it looks plausible to the general public that frozen dead people might be revived, pulling the plug on the freezers may appear to become morally equivalent to pulling the plug on patients with intact brains who are comatose but not medically dead. It may no longer a purely financial question in the eye of the public, especially if some enterprising journalist decides to focus on the issue.

Talk about wishful thinking! Do people, other than family and friends, even care about pulling the plug on comatose patients now? Positing some new moral obligation towards frozen corpses arising "in the eyes of the public" is like assuming a can opener.

They have investments.

Fair enough, but crucially what they are not likely to have is a) a future stream of customers for whom it is worth maintaining their reputation and b) anyone in a position to defend the interests of their customers compelling them to honour the contract.

When Science Can't Help
For cryonics patients to eventually be revived, the future just has to be very rich (like Vladimir says) and contain a few altruists. Sounds like a good bet

Seeing as the theme of this blog is overcoming bias, one ought to be conscious of an overly hopeful bias. It may well be a deficiency of my own imagination but I can't see the notion of reviving old geezers having much of an appeal for future altruists but that doesn't even matter: It's likely that technology will be sufficiently advanced at some stage to postpone ageing and death and it's probable that this will happen before the technology exists to revive "dead" people cutting at a stroke the financial viability of cryonics companies and the income stream which keeps their freezers from defrosting. Should that happen there just won't be any you for a future altruist to revive should they even want to.

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