[ExI] New York Times piece on cryonics, featuring Robin Hanson & Peggy

Mike Dougherty msd001 at gmail.com
Wed Jul 14 04:05:01 UTC 2010

On Tue, Jul 13, 2010 at 10:06 AM, Natasha Vita-More <natasha at natasha.cc> wrote:
> But let me remind you all that the concept of what is or is not dead has
> changed over the eons.

So what happens when someone is pronounced dead, cryogenically
suspended then reanimated:  are they undead?  Or does that term only
apply to those who tirelessly chase the living attempting to eat their
brains?  Hmm... this gives new meaning to a term seen frequently in
identity threads on this list: philosophical zombie.  Just above the
p-zombie subsection on the zombie wikipedia page is zombie apocalypse
(which probably owes its position due to greater relevance, right?)
I propose a hybrid concept:

philosophical zombie apocalypse - it's a singularity event where
society completely collapses but nobody notices because the remaining
population lacks any sense of what was previously termed qualia.
Maybe this already happened.

> It will be interesting to see what the next definition of dead will be, and
> if a person has to be legally dead before suspension.  And it will be
> interesting to see how dead will be redefined if and when cognition is
> distributed and/or a person has more than one persona existing in different
> platforms and/or time frames.

Is legally dead more or less dead than the normal definition?  Even
mostly dead is slightly alive.  :)

"Dead as a doornail" refers to the practice of bending the tip of the
nail after it's hammered through two pieces of wood to make a door.
By deadening (clinching) the nail the carpenter prevents the door from
coming apart but also prevents the nail from being reused (such as by
burning the door and recovering the nail).  In a time when each nail
was crafted by a smith, one must have been more careful about how they
were used.  I know this wasn't an intended definition of dead in this
context ...

Dead may become more suggestive of dormancy.  "this pub is really dead
around 11:00 am, but it'll be busy for happy hour"  it may also be
suggestive of depleted energy reserves:  "I worked a 14 hour day, I'm
dead tired".  Or "this laptop won't work because of a dead battery".
In both cases a recharge can restore "life" to make "dead" less

It seems taboo to repurpose death in such a casual way.  However, once
people as we know them are as always-on as all the other machines
around modern man[kind] it will be difficult to understand the term in
our current context.  It will be like trying to explain to a child
today that there was once a time of day when TV programming simply
stopped.  (the first time I was allowed to stay up late enough to
witness that event I was shocked and confused, then angry, then
disappointed, then very sleepy.)

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