[ExI] [ZS] [cryo] Nick Bostrom, Anders Sandberg, Stuart Armstrong to be frozen after death

Florent Berthet florent.berthet at gmail.com
Wed Jun 12 10:37:24 UTC 2013

2013/6/12 Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org>

> On Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 06:42:49PM +0200, Florent Berthet wrote:
> > I don't expect anybody to be perfect all the time - I'm certainly not -
> but
> >  spending £50,000 for selfish reasons is highly debatable, to say the
> I'm sure the next time you wind up in the ICU, and, selfishly,
> incur bills an order of magnitude higher you will have the
> consistency to refuse such selfish treatment, and unselfishly
> expire.
> Because everything else would be, oh so selfish.

If I had a choice between spending £500,000 on saving my own life versus
using it to save 200+ lives (which is what would be achieved through the
Against Malaria Foundation, according to Givewell's estimates of $2,500 per
life saved), I would seriously consider sacrificing my life. But I would
also have to take into account how much good I could do by staying alive
and living a life of altruism, which could represent a lot more than 200
lives saved in the long run.

What's more, there is a difference between your example and signing for
cryonics because, once dead and cryopreserved, you will only be able to
help in x years when you are revived (if you are revived). But in x years
the world could be so different that it may not need your help as much as
our present world (after all, it would be a world where technology allows
us to revive people, which could mean, for example, that an AGI has been
created). This consideration doesn't negate the expected utility of
"getting frozen to help the world later", but it lowers it.

> You seem to subscribe to the notion that there's an alloted
> lifetime (by whom?) for a specific purpose (which?) and
> tampering with that plan is streng verboten.

I'm all for indefinite life extension, I never said we should die as a
matter of principle, I was talking about expected utility. It's a matter of
priorities, we live in a world where there are death AND existential risks,
the question is: how should we allocate our money between them? Let me
quote Nick Bostrom about his Maxipok principle (which I agree with):

"*Maxipok* Maximise the probability of an ‘OK outcome’, where an OK outcome
is any outcome that avoids existential catastrophe.

At best, maxipok is a rule of thumb or a prima facie suggestion. It is not
a principle of absolute validity, since there clearly are moral ends other
than the prevention of existential catastrophe. The principle’s usefulness
is as an aid to prioritisation. Unrestricted altruism is not so common that
we can afford to fritter it away on a plethora of feel-good projects of
suboptimal efficacy. If benefiting humanity by increasing existential safety
achieves expected good on a scale many orders of magnitude greater than
that of alternative contributions, we would do well to focus on this most
efficient philanthropy."

Now, since Bostrom has written that and has also signed for cryonics, I
find it logical to ask "so, how do cryonics fit within the Maxipok rule of
thumb?" I'm not saying cryonics can't possibly be the best thing to do, I
want to know the reasoning of people who sign up while being aware of other
important issues. Don't try to read between the lines here, I'm certainly
not bashing cryonics, in fact I am glad this field exists, I think it's
good that money goes into it, I'm just genuinely asking if there isn't an
even better way to spend money.

If you need other arguments: t takes about 30 years to
> produce a borderline usable human, and then she dies
> and you have to start from scratch again. That's
> wasteful.
> In terms of IPD, sticking around longer results in
> nicer people overall. You like environment? There's
> more incentive to keep this planet in good shape.
> Etc.

I agree, and this is the kind of arguments I'm asking for. Thanks for
bringing that up, and while I'm at it, thanks to Anders for his
explanations and honesty. If there is a place where I expect people to be
able to debate freely and without having to justify every word they say,
it's this one. Let's keep it that way.
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