All of maxmore's Comments + Replies

Don't hesitate to let me know if I or Alcor's membership administrator Diane Cremeens can help by answering any questions. You can reach me at

The last statement is not accurate. Currently, with some warning, Alcor WILL deploy people outside of North America. In the near future, we expect to be able to deploy more local responders either instead of or in addition to our own personnel.

Depends what you mean by risk-averse. Alcor has an unquestionable history of fighting for its members' wishes, rather than giving up on them at the mere hint of a legal battle. The only way in which CI could be said to be more financially prudent (but in a way with its own costs) is in its remarkable ability to hold down operating costs. I'm working hard on reducing our costs without undesirable penalties in terms of capabilities. I think we are also now at a point where further membership growth will yield significant economies of scale.

But take a look at... (read more)

Ben: I wasn't actually criticizing CI for not perfusing the body other than the brain, I was simply pointing it out. CI members in general seem very insistent on the importance of cryopreserving their entire body. Given THAT, it seems important to note that their body will not be cryoprotected. However, thanks for pointing out that CI will do so if requested. How often is that request made?

Why do you say that vitrification of the body is not possible "either at Alcor or CI"? It is done at Alcor for whole body members.

I mean that when we received some income that was not definitely specified for a particular purpose, when I suggested that some of it go to operations, the board unanimously insisted it all go into the Endowment Fund.

"I follow Alcor's announcements, read its magazine and track its public blog, as I necessarily must, so I am surprised to learn that "In Alcor's O.R., Alcor is presently evaluating and training two board certified general surgeons to supplement the veterinary surgeon and neurosurgeon who have been used by Alcor for the past 15 years." This is the kind of information that I would expect to see showcased in the organization's literature and on its website, not disclosed here. This is the kind of thing that happens over and over and which degra... (read more)

Alcor has stuck to this plan. The board takes it very seriously. Not only have we not taken out more than 2% per year, the board have frequently pushed to add more to the Endowment Fund even where it could legitimately be put into operations.

Thank you - this significantly raises my opinion of Alcor.

the board have frequently pushed to add more to the Endowment Fund even where it could legitimately be put into operations.

By 'pushed to add' do you mean took actions that actually resulted in adding or that they made a noble effort?

Consider that it might actually be evidence for a different conclusion: Eliezer signed up for cryonics some years ago, when he had little income, bravely foregoing well-paid employment in favor of pursuing his core goals. (I can relate to that!) I would very much like to talk to E.Y. about whether it's time to reconsider his past decision based on current information and current finances. I'm just an email or a phone call away, Eli...

5Eliezer Yudkowsky11y
Indeed, I'm young and not yet rich. If I was rich, though, given my prior state of knowledge I would've gone with SA + CI on the belief that CI seemed more long-run stable - CI seems more risk-averse and more financially prudent. I've updated somewhat on the financial prudence of Alcor as a result of reading these threads, and if the decision suddenly mattered for some reason, I would now require more investigation to figure out whether SA + CI or Alcor was the better long-run bet.
Someone did ask EY whether the fact that he signed up with CI whereas Hanson signed up with Alcor meant he disagreed with him about something important about the two institutes, and IIRC he answered it was just that Hanson was richer and older than him so of course he'd chosen the higher-end option. (I cannot find that comment, since even a search for Eliezer CI Hanson Alcor in the internal LW search engine turns up umpteen pages.)

Consider that it might actually be evidence for a different conclusion

I'd express it this way: by conservation of evidence, Eliezer signing up for CI is evidence for CI and against Alcor. Within the set of reasons/scenarios which lead to him signing up for CI, the observation about when Eliezer signed up is evidence for the 'economizing' explanation in which his signing up is not evidence for CI over Alcor.

(This may sound contradictory, but the important thing is that A as a set can be shrinking in total probability even as individual members of A becom... (read more)

Yes, many (almost all) events are evidence for more than one hypothesis.

CharlesR: First of all, let me say that I have sufficient funding for whole body, yet I have chosen the neuro option. I find it difficult to fathom why anyone would want to bring along a broken-down old body which is going to have to be replaced anyway. We can store ten neuro patients for the cost of one whole body patient (which means that we are probably underpricing WBs currently). A neuro arrangement with Alcor currently costs $80,000. Although WB prices may have to rise before long, I've heard no suggestion that neuro rates need to rise anytime soon.

H... (read more)

Even assuming that making a new body is better than fixing the broken one (quite likely especially if ems are included in “new body”), how would its nerves (or equivalent) be connected to the repaired brain without a template of where each of the old nerves went? I was under the impression that the neural system, like the circulatory system, is “the same” between individuals only on the large scale, and individual fibers grow more or less randomly, like arterioles, the brain learning the positions of everything during growth. I can well imagine almost-AGI level machines able to deduce most or maybe all of these based only on watching the effects of gentle prods to the inputs on unconscious brains, but with only human-level intelligence, even with em technology and fantastic (but not AI) computers I can’t quite see how you could do it without participation from the patient, and thus subjecting them to what I imagine might be described as “hellish maelstrom of the senses” for a quite long time. (I don’t expect definite answers, of course—like the rest of cryonics, if we knew all the details we’d be doing it right now. I just wonder if this was discussed somewhere, and perhaps there’s something I’m not aware of which makes it simple in principle given some plausible anticipated advances. Do we even know if it’s possible, looking at just a single random axon, cut at the neck, to tell whether it connected to a nociceptor or a proprioceptor, even knowing exactly where it goes and everything there is in the brain? I mean, other than prodding it and asking the patient what they felt.)
Well, the brain will have to be replaced as well. If we assume everyone who signs up for cryonics is solely motivated by the intent to maximize the expected value of their continued information-theoretical identity after their cells die, we might infer that those people suspect that some of that information-theoretical identity resides somewhere other than their brain... in their adrenal glands, perhaps, or in their fat cells, or who knows. That said, I am skeptical about both the premise and the conclusion.

Yes, exactly! Darwin says very little about CI. He's enormously critical of Alcor. Why? The answer is complicated, but part of it clearly is that he was a major force in Alcor in earlier years and has perfectionist standards that ignore costs and other real constraints. He may also be envious that he isn't running things. Alas, his past relationships make that inevitable.

Despite his impulse to stick in the knife, I keep a close eye on his detailed blog posts, since he does have a remarkable depth of knowledge. That depth and his most excellent writing ski... (read more)

Perhaps Alcor should do the perfusions and freezing and CI chug away at the storage which needs safety and stability. About Mike's or anyone's judgment for that matter, it is a commonplace that no one person has good judgment in all areas. Alcor's judgment in selection of personnel may be comparatively poor, but on the other hand I note few comments of a scientific or technical nature on his technical arguments, and as my own knowledge is rusty, I crave input from someone other than Mike of an exact nature, and not the dismissive "often fool people into believing that his judgment is better than it is" type of comment. I'm not fooled by any of this, but sorely lacking in the means to exercise my own intellect on the critical area of perfusion technology and I am becoming concerned that Mike's technical postings are ignored in substance and detail because of a general lack of technical and scientific know-how in both organizations. At some point in the future if research on reanimation continues to be at or near zero BOTH organizations will be storing people whose information loss is approaching an upper asymptote of 100% regardless of the technology used to get them into the capsules in the first place.
This post from Max More is the kind of post that I would expect to see voted off of LessWrong. I have not had a substantive conversation with Max More about cryonics, let alone my personal position, psychology, desires or motivations in over 20 years. We did correspond recently, and I have asked Max for permission to make that complete correspondence, minus personal incidentals not material to cryonics, public. He has flatly refused. Why, I do not know, but I do know that that is the only substantive communication he and I have had in decades and that it is completely documented in writing. Prior to that, at least to my knowledge, our relationship was cordial and not marred by any disagreements or conflicts. Nor do we have any confidants or intimates in common. Thus, the question arises, how would Max know anything about whether I am "envious that I'm not running things"? As he says, he doesn't know this, he can only speculate because he has refused to speak with me on these matters. He then goes on to say something that I find remarkable to be left unchallenged here on LessWrong: "That depth (of knowledge) and his most excellent writing skills often fool people into believing that his judgment is better than it is" LessWrong, as I understand it, is a forum where people are mastering the craft and science of evaluating the logic and substance of the arguments put forth by people, including thinkers and writers here and elsewhere - not based on their style, cleverness of articulation, or their speculations. If anyone has questions about the assertions I make, feel free to ask for the evidence. We may not always agree on how to weight it, but the evidence will (hopefully) always be there, and it will be credible. Where I overstep or make a mistake, you will find me quick to acknowledge and apologize.

There's no mystery about why I have comparatively few criticisms posted about CI. My reasons for this are as follows:

1) Ci is what it is. What you see is pretty much what you get, and that this is so is evident from the discussion here. The perception of CI as a "mom and pop" outfit is but one example I could cite from this discussion. Ci does not project itself as using a medically-based model of cryonics. It's case histories are ghastly - and anyone who doesn't take the time to read them, or who can't see what the deficiencies are, well, you ca... (read more)

Could you briefly explain or point to anything about info how CI's approach is flawed? EDIT: This comment helped: []

“However, Alcor remains something of a shadowy organization that many within the cryonics community are suspicious of.”

Really? That’s a remarkable statement. Alcor has a long history of open communication with its members and the cryonics community in general. Among the ways Alcor does this:

  • Cryonics magazine
  • Alcor News emailings
  • RSS feed
  • conferences
  • case reports
  • extremely detailed website with information on finances, governance… everything
  • Facebook page
  • Member Forums


“Mike Darwin, a former Alcor president, has ... (read more)

1Eli Tyre4y
I did not know this. Thanks.
I was at CI's AGM when Aschwin and Chana during their talk took the time to trash talk CI at its own conference and I was upset despite maxes assertion otherwise. Fortunately for the de wolfs, the audio at the meeting was substandard and for those of us who heard it there was no chance to challenge these absurd statements. No where was there any attempt to quantify or verify alleged damage. To the best of my knowledge the de wolf's have not been allowed to autopsy and remove brain tissue from CI or Alcor patients to do a scientific comparison. There was also no other attempt to separate out unrelated factors. Which CI patients were they specifically referring too? Were they referring to incomplete case reports cherry picked from both organizations for a comparison? Surely both organizations have had cryosuspensions in which factors outside their control was at play. IE patient not found dead for several hours or days. Are we comparing apples to apples here? This was is far from a scientific comparison and Max and the de wolfs as scientists should be ashamed of making such smoke and mirror un substantiated assertions. The fact remains there is no way aside from defrosting our patients to compare procedures and even then if we are to make a fair comparison then we need to look at optimal cases from both organizations and subtract out factors such as the over priced false sense of security and misrepresentation that is in long distance remote standby. The truth is simple. Speed and early cooling with vitrification supplemented by good planning is worth 100 times a delayed remote standby even if its members paid $500,000 for the process. Lets be honest to potential members. Just because someone here on Lesswrong says CI or Alcor has had better cryosuspensions does not mean it is true to be repeated over and over. I demand unbiased controlled evidence otherwise these allegations are a cheap shot nothing more.
It is odd that Max would criticize CI for only perfusing the head in light of the fact that the great majority of Alcor patients are neuros (head-only). The head and the brain are the most important part. CI will perfuse the body with glycerol for CI Members who request it, but CI does not do this unless requested. Look at CI's Perfusion Preference document, which all CI Members have the option of completing when making cryopreservation arrangements: [] . When the majority of Alcor Members opt for neuro, why rag on CI about the fact that the majority of CI Members opt for no body perfusion (or opt by default)? In any case, vitrification of the body is not possible either at Alcor or CI at present. CI's vitrification solution can eliminate brain ice formation and even demonstrably results in hippocampal slice viability when cooled to -130Celsius and rewarmed, and is vastly less expensive than M22. I doubt that the extra expense of M22 is worth the difference. I do believe that it is important to make cryonics affordable, and I am pleased to be offering a lower cost alternative. Standby/Stabliization/Transport (SST) from Suspended Animation is an optional extra for CI Members, but SST is mandatory for Alcor Members. Only about a quarter of CI Members with cryopreservation arrangements have chosen to have SST from SA (I have chosen that option). I am proud that the comparisons page at CI does not involve a lot of breast-beating, but only contains objective information [] .
Since you are around to answer questions... As I mentioned elsewhere, my biggest concern is the continuous operation of a cryoshop over the potential centuries or even millennia until the revival is attempted, as nearly no entities have ever survived that long. I have been unsuccessful in my search for an Alcor executive explicitly responsible for existential risk analysis and mitigation. By existential risk to the company I mean an event that would result in the company failing to the degree that the stored patients are discarded, even though the outside world merrily hums along, and not an event that wipes out a large chunk of humanity. The FAQ does not seem to answer the obvious hard questions like "what if Morgan Stanley goes under?", "what if the US dollar collapses?", "what other existential risks exist, and what are their probability estimates and error bars?", "what is the estimated lifetime of Alcor until it suffers a complete failure from one of the existential risks to it coming to pass?" etc. By the way, if you think that the answer to the last question is "infinite", I recommend a basic probability and statistics course. In other words, the risk management appears to be at the level no better than that of a regular insurance company, which is completely inadequate for an organization whose long-term survival is the most critical issue. Is this perception wrong?

Darwin has also criticized CI here:

And this situation isn’t hypothetical either, because when the Cemetery Board came down on the Cryonics Institute (CI) , CI, and thus the American Cryonics Society (ACS), decided to surrender control of their patients to the state. Now, it is the laws and jurists of the state of Michigan that determine the conditions under which a patient can be removed from a cryostat at CI, and be relocated elsewhere, not the CEO or the Board of either CI

... (read more)
maxmore, since you're here, I have a question: How much life insurance do I need? The cost for whole body is $200,000. So do I need $200,000 or do I need what it costs at time of death? Historical data says the cost doubles every 20 years.
Thanks for your reply, Max. It does seem that Darwin is a bit harder on Alcor, but perhaps some of that is just because it's closer and more personal to him from having worked there and being signed up with them.