[extropy-chat] Cryonics without comprehensive brain disassembly? - No
bpaatsch at bigpond.net.au
Tue Apr 20 00:33:34 UTC 2004
Robert Bradbury wrote:
> Brett, I am going to make an argument that may be somewhat
> in contrast to the perspective you seem to be operating from.
> > Why shouldn't I be uncomfortable? I don't think of myself as
> > merely what other people perceive me to be. What evidence
> > is there that I or any homo sapiens can survive the complete
> > disassembly of their brain?
> I don't know -- I doubt we have the theoretical knowledge at
> this point to make good arguments pro or con.
I'm pretty confident myself. I think existing theoretical knowledge
IS good enough at this point to make very good arguments for the
con. Whether those arguments are persuasive would, like most
arguments, depend on the willingness of the persons listening to
be persuaded. Recall the intro I put at the top of the Smalley,
Drexler and the monster in Lake Michigan thread. True-believers
can find ways to believe in the monster in the lake or in santa
claus or God, or cryonics, or nanosanta indefinately. Intelligence
does not remove the capacity for rationalisation.
What is really missing is a reason for a person to go to the trouble
of trying, as I think its one of Adrian's sig lines puts it, it is very
hard to argue a person out of a position that they did not argue
themselves into in the first place.
Why would anyone bother? Where is the pay-off? True-believers
don't like to pay one for the service of dis-illusioning them.
Jehovah's Witnesses will come to you uninvited and talk to you
effectively forever about what they believe but try and get one of
them to bet US$1000 dollars with you if they are wrong and see
how quickly they move on muttering "wicked, wicked". There are
easier pickings for them. They just want to talk about what they
want to talk about and to sell you the Watch Tower if you'll buy
it and to get you to join them if they can. But essentially they
are playing a numbers game. They may be "nice" people. Puppies
are "nice" too.
PT Barnum said there's a sucker born every minute. Unfortunately
when one removes the dummy from a baby and doesn't replace it
with something else one doesn't get smiles so much as tears. And
it doesn't matter whether the removal is done with good intentions
One rarely gets gratitude for the service of dis-illusioning.
> >... what separates cryonics (that posits that the self can survive
> > the disassembly of the brain in which one currently experiences
> > it) from religious systems that believe the same thing? Isn't it a
> > case of pick your belief-poison?
> I would like to correct a misperception -- cryonics does *not*
> strictly require the disassembly of the brain.
I think you are making a distinction without an important difference.
Its of course trivially true that cryonics - a purported potential
procedure does require anything. Its not a person.
Its also, so far as I know, true that cryonicists, the more committed
one's, don't make explicit in the common literature about the
purported potential procedure of cryonics that it will require the brain
being disassembled at some point. I worked that part out for myself.
But go ahead and show me if you can, how Robert Bradbury's
superior perception of cryonics can do both an end-run around
entropy and extract sufficient information on personal neuronal
structures to produce even a very good *copy* of the original self.
> One is involved in very complex biochemical processes as to
> how one reanimates a brain.
No one isn't. No one has. Or do you have evidence that brains have
been reanimated after undergoing a cryonics "preservation"
procedure that I don't? If so please share.
> Those may involve in turn the amount of damage that were
> present or took place when a brain was suspended.
As I say, I think they must, for the purported potential procedure of
cryonics to work. (Even given the other purported potential enabling
nanotechnology). I think you do well to replace "may" with "may not"
> Sooo... using my original analogy you may (*or may not*) get
> back your original atoms in their original structural form.
I'm saying you can't. No way. No chance. But please show me if
you can, if you really think you can. Hell don't just show me show
a lot of people and really differentiate cryonics from religion. How in
your superior perception of cryonics to mine is it even possible in
principle to get back the original atoms? I'm stating that it isn't.
> In my personal opinion (as per my discussions with Harvey)
> you have a *really* difficult time proving that your "self"
> today is the same as your "self" yesterday.
I've been enjoying reading some of Harvey's recent exchanges with
you, he is really making you work to hold your "beliefs". I think that's
a very healthy thing regardless but I think Harvey is doing you more
of a service than you are doing him.
But only a dimwit would fall for the sophists trap of trying to prove
they exist. (And Harvey is no dimwit. Nor obviously are you). If
there is one thing that everyone must have to be involved in any
discussion - including discussions about science, and logic,
and rationality - it's oneself. One needs to be oneself (and that's
a material substrate) BEFORE one learns language and acquires
the tools of logic and can practice the scientific method.
If your looking for a premise or an axiom or a first cause for you
its you. You are the centre of your perceptual universe. Robert
Ettinger knows that and is now, apparently, writing a work of
"philosophy" :-) entitled the Youniverse. You can even order
a copy in advance. His pitch is quite good really. I'm thinking
of buying one myself, because I respect Robert Ettingers
commitment AND see SOME merit in his thoughts, even though
I think he is wrong in some areas. Like that cryonics will work.
> I do not know if a homo sapiens can survive the complete
> dissassembly of their brain.
> I would assume based on previous experience that at least
> the first couple of times we are going to get this wrong.
> However I do have a reasonable confidence in physics that
> *if* it is necessary and a brain disassembly is required that
> a reasonably accurate brain reassembly may be executed.
That's your understanding of physics. If you insist on
anthropomorphising physics, I suggest that you think of "her"
(or him) as fickle and entirely self centred. She "physics" doesn't
care about you at all. She does even care that you don't understand
her. You understand her more or less well because its more or less
useful to you to do so while you are alive.
But physics isn't a she of course and doesn't have a point of
view any more than science has a point of view or rationality or
logic has a point of view. They are things you can use to serve
you as opposed to beliefs which are things which hurt you but
make you feel warm and fuzzy and social to profess because
in a world of monkeys banannas can seem like the only useful
> It may however take some time for humanity to make this
> process work on a reliable basis.
Or, it may simply, never ever happen - because it would violate
contingency. Essentially you are your living brain. Most of the
atoms will have changed in your brain in your life but the neurons
and their "connections" have never undergone anything like
the wholesale dis-connection all-at-once, that cryonics processes,
or dying involves.
It's a "bitch" but there it is.
Stem cells and cybernetics Robert. Stem cells and cybernetics.
You need to move your self off your substrate in stages while you
are alive, (ie. no 12 hr plus EEG flatlines) - just like how you grew
or you are gone my friend - you will be a fondly remembered
Ex-parrot. Dead as Franklin. Dead as Newton. Dead as Pascal.
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