[ExI] Cryonics Alexandre Erler and bad philosophy

Ivor Peter Brians ipbrians at gmail.com
Mon Nov 27 14:39:09 UTC 2017

I agree with John. We should seek to preserve the information. Those desiring to "keep their original stuff," can have a new brain cloned from their DNA for uploading the data into later (they will no doubt what a newly cloned body as well-either with or without enhancements).

(Sorry, I've simply been lurking in the background on the list for some time)

> Message: 1
> Date: Thu, 23 Nov 2017 15:10:32 -0500
> From: John Clark <johnkclark at gmail.com>
> To: ExI chat list <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
> Subject: [ExI] Cryonics Alexandre Erler and bad philosophy
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>    <CAJPayv34JwtFg5RhB=RYmQNyc2fs_hT1qXRk9hDopbyVgqC0AQ at mail.gmail.com>
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> In the current issue of Cryonics Alexandre Erler comments on the following
> research article by McIntyre and Fahy about preserving the information in
> brains using a new process called aldehyde-stabilized cryopreservation
> (ASC), and Erler doesn't much like what he sees.  You can download a PDF of
> the McIntyre and Fahy article here:
> https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S001122401500245X
> This method is quite different from the way Alcor preserves brains and in
> my opinion superior, but Erier doesn't like it for philosophical reasons
> that I have to say seem downright silly to me. Basically what they did is
> fix the molecules in place with glutaraldehyde (the stuff in the wart
> removing lotion you can get at the drugstore ) then they infused ethylene
> glycol as a cryoprotectant and then cooled the brains down to -135 C where
> they became vitrified.  After rewarming the brains were examined and  "*show
> exquisite preservation of anatomical detail after vitrification and
> rewarming, with virtually no identifiable artifacts relative to controls*."
> So can Alcor's method match that?  Erler says he doesn't know because with
> Alcor's method "the brain shrinks to almost 50% of its natural size due to
> osmotic dehydration hindering our ability to establish the quality of
> ultrastructure preservation".  Well yes, I imagine such shrinkage would
> distort things and make it harder to see fine details, McIntyre and Fahy
> think so too:
> "
> *For the purposes of connectomics, this dehydration is undesirable because
> it distorts the brain's ultrastructure and causes difficulties in tracing
> fine? neural processes*. "
> But there is no shrinkage with the new method. After keeping the brains at
> -135 C for several days they then rewarmed them and examined them with a
> electron microscope. This is what they found:
> *"Rabbit brains upon dissection revealed no cracks resulting from the
> vitrification or rewarming processes. Brain weights were commensurate with
> control brains, and we found no retraction of the brains from their skulls.
> Control rabbit brains displayed excellent ultrastructural preservation.
> [...] All 8 rabbit brains preserved using ASC consistently displayed
> ultrastructural preservation indistinguishable from that of controls [...]
> Intracellular organelles are also well preserved: rough endoplasmic
> reticulum is clear and compact, and the mitochondria appear normal  [...]
> There are several synapses present, with clear pre-synaptic vesicles and
> well defined, darkly stained post-synaptic densities [...] All capillaries
> are open and clear of debris, there are no ??dark?? cells, and there is no
> obvious mechanical or osmotic disruption or distortion of any cells.  [...]
> We also observed no signs of ice crystal artifacts in any of our
> ASC-processed brains. [...] . Vitrified storage at -135 C should enable
> essentially indefinite storage of brain tissue with no degradation due to
> suppressed molecular motion in the vitrified state. [...]The aldehydes
> immediately stabilize the fine structure of the brain to an extent
> sufficient for connectomics research, meeting our goal of high-quality
> preservation. [...]  ASC is scalable to because the  chemicals are
> delivered via perfusion, which enables easy scaling to brains of any size;
> vitrification ensures that the ultrastructure of the brain will not degrade
> even over very long storage times, processes were easily traceable and
> synapses were crisp"*
> So much for that old canard about a frozen brain resulting in mush. It
> seems pretty clear to me that the ASC method is better at preserving brain
> information and Alcor should switch over to it unless financial reasons
> make it impractical, and I don't think wart lotion is all that expensive.
> But the thing that bothers Alexandre Erler is not the expense but the fact
> that although the information about the brain is preserved the fixative
> would render the brain itself unviable, it would be easier to use the
> information to make another brain (or upload the brain software) than it
> would be to remove all the molecules of glutaraldehyde from the original
> brain so it can be restarted. Erler fears that the duplicate brain might
> not *really* be you even if all the information in both was identical, he
> wants to keep the "original" brain.
> But what exactly is so original about the "original"? Atoms are generic,
> our names are not scratched on
> ?the atoms in our bodies?
> , not even
> ?on ?
> the atoms in our brain.  And besides
> ?,?
> atoms are constantly shifting in and out of our bodies anyway, today your
> brain is literally made of last years mashed potatoes. It seems to me if we
> are going to have any chance of escaping oblivion we need to totally
> embrace rationality
> ?,?
> and that means we should go for whatever method that best preserve brain
> information regardless of what happens to "the original". Cryonicists often
> criticize others for failing to be rational about life and death, but with
> talk about "the original" and a immaterial "something" that a copied brain
> would lack we are doing the same thing; if we're going to go down that road
> we might as well abandon science altogether and stick with traditional
> religion and hope that mumbo jumbo will bring us immortality.
> ? I agree 100% with ?
> McIntyre and Fahy
> ? that we don't ?"
> *need to preserve the biological viability of brain tissue; the primary
> criterion for success is instead to maintain the delicate? ?ultrastructural
> appearance of the brain*
> *?*"?
> .
> ?
> ?John K Clark?

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