A view on cryonics (was Re: [extropy-chat] Bad Forecasts!)

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal at smigrodzki.org
Sun Sep 12 04:58:42 UTC 2004

Brett Paatsch wrote:

>This does not mean that I believe in souls or spirits I don't. I am a
>I just think that I am a material thing that is biological and has grown. I
>made up of atoms sure but far more relevantly to what makes me me I am
>made up of cells. I don't think that any cryonics procedure can disassemble
>me to the cellular level and put me back together again. I think I would be
>destroyed in the wholesale disassembly process and that the wholesale
>disassembly process cannot be gotten around because at the time the
>cryonics "freezing" processs is initiated I would have been composed of
>inorganic highly perishable cells. And cells aren't structured in
>evolved biological organisms so as to leave service lanes for nanobots
>(on the contrary the brain is protected by a blood brain barrier precisely
>to reduce the opportunity for entry disease). Evolution didn't design my
>brain to rebuilt it, it gave it some capacity for repair and adaption but
>evolution will be perfectly happy to start again and grow another. The me
>bit encoded in my brain is entirely expendable from evolutions standpoint.
>I don't accept the information theoretic criteria of death. I think the
>theoretic criteria of death is a hurdle that is chosen specifically because
>savvy folk feel confident that it could be jumped over. I don't think the
>theoretic criteria of death has any other applications other than to satisfy
>understandable yearning (I'd like to avoid dying too) to avoid dying.
### Ah, the old identity thread again! Let's pound this nail even deeper!

Do you think that your concept of personal identity (about cells, blood 
brain barriers, etc.) is the only correct one (leaving all others to be 
mere rationalizations, if not insane mutterings), or maybe there are 
many possible concepts, which may be chosen, or believed in without 
automatically consigning the believer to the ranks of the hopelessly 
misguided morons? In the latter case, identity would be a matter of 
taste, discussed and politely disagreed on, but not an obstacle to 
mutually respectful relationships. In the former case, having a certain 
type of identity belief could put a person in the same category as the 
Raelians and Rastafarians, which does limit the range of interactions 


> I can relate to the wanting to hope but
>I can't pull of belief in cryonics with intellectual integrity any better
>than I can
>pull of belief in reincarnation or the resurrection.
### Well, there is a difference between the information-theoretic (IT) 
concept of identity, and the belief in resurrection by supernatural 
means. We IT's do not postulate the occurrence of any extraphysical 
events which rely for confirmation on stories written by bearded 
half-literate peasants two thousand years ago. The IT belief is merely 
my *decision* to be satisfied with certain physically feasible states of 
the world (future world states which contain sentient structures largely 
identical to my present mental setup, or structures derivable from this 
setup by volitional means), and to value all such states equally, 
whether the future structures appear by physical continuity with my 
current physical manifestation, or by means of information transfer. The 
only difference between you and me is that you are dissatisfied with 
states which contain only the IT-derived structures - so it's a matter 
of attitude, not a belief about material facts.

A question of value, not fact.


>Now that I have reached a conclusion on cryonics I feel in much the same way
>towards transhumanists that still think it will work and still suspend
>disbelief to
>hold hope as I once felt towards friends and family that remained religious
>I grew out of it. I like them. I respect them when they argue sensibly and I
>put much stock in their beliefs but am interested in their values. Its the
>thing that makes transhumanist and extropes look a bit cultish and so easy
>parody in my opinion.
### Remember, religious people make scientifically unsupported 
statements about facts, which leads them to bizarre beliefs about 
values. This is much different from cryonicists, who rely strictly on 
science for facts, and fit their values accordingly.


>And I have seen embryonics stem cell scientists differentiate their work in
>of public audiences by pointing at the Raelians as the irresponsible
>face of cloning but I've also seen them talk of cryonics in the same way.
>Cryonics as a meme is out there - the meme has been given a fair shake by
>pretty persistent and impassioned advocates over quite a period of time. And
>glad that it has been. But scientists and the public know about it.
>Scientists as a
>class are not indifferent to means of prolonging or extending their own
>Those that are not signing up are not all not signing up because they are
>some of them, like me, are not going for it because they are confident that
>cannot work. And their confidence I think comes not from conservatism but
>from an understanding of biology.
### As a practicing scientist (molecular neuroscientist) I can assure 
you that the confidence of academic detractors of cryonics comes purely 
from ignorance.

If you disagree, point out a single scientific, biological argument for 
why cryonics cannot work, and you could score a convert to your attitude.


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