X-Message-Number: 10333
Date: Fri, 28 Aug 1998 01:27:15 -0700
From: Jeff Davis <>
Subject: Near certainty of success of cryonics

	Regarding the probability of success of cryonics. Posters, presumabley
proponents, frequently offer, in an offhand sort of way, guesstimates
ranging from "a long shot" to "a small chance" to "better than even".
Others, the big boys, the pros, bemoan the extent of damage resulting from
the current suspension capabilities, inferring, intentionally or
unintenionally, that it's hard to see how the individuals thus suspended
could ever be restored.  Joining in this paean to confidence, critics,
unconstrained by any pretense of good faith discussion, delight in trashing
cryonics with glitzy ridicule like "restoring a cow from hamburger!" 
	The truth is, no one knows the future, so everyone is guessing.  But as
Thomas Donaldson reminds us, the future is a long time.  Well, just how
long is that?
	Several lifetimes ago I heard that the sun could be expected to last
around four billion years before going nova.  That's a pretty long time.
Presuming mankind gives up on the notion of space travel and stays on the
planet, that would seem to put the limit of the future (for humans at
least) at around four billion years.  But wait a minute!  I've got an
update on that estimate.  I read recently that the solar radiation pattern
will change in 500 million years, so as to make life on the planet
untenable.  Well, all else the same, that shortens the future up
considerably.  Nevertheless, 500 million years is a pretty fair chunk of
change, timewise.  Time enough, even if human progress were frozen at its
current pace, (which is of course ridiculous--one of those
o-scientific-lower-bound credibility.") to accomplish virtually anything
not precluded by the laws of reality. 
	INCLUDING restoring a cow from hamburger!
	Now, just a note on this cow to hamburger and back again thing.  I don't
believe that the person who first proposed this challenge had in mind
actually restoring a cow from hamburger, because, as we all know,
hamburger, in any of its varieties, regular, lean, or extra lean, does not
contain all of the constituents of the cow.  No, I think that the proposer
would have considered it fair and reasonable that while we must start with
it in ground up form, we nevertheless get to start with the whole cow.
	So here's the situation.  Bessie's been run through the grinder and placed
in an appropriate receptacle.  All the parts are there.  Now we have 500
million years to put them back together.  Yes, it's a big job. Impressively
daunting.  Absolutely impossible by currently available methods.  But hey,
500 million years?  That's a long time. In 500 million years I would expect
to be able to rebuild Bessie	so that she could write like Shakespeare and
dance like Nijinsky.  (Thus can even glitzy ridicule be turned into an
argument in favor of cryonics.) 
	Yet the cryonicists practically lay down and die (pun intended) with their
feeble and dull  "small chance" and "better than even" responses.  Eric
Drexler, as the speaker at the Extro 3 dinner, looked out over his audience
and, with classic Drexlerian insight, said that perhaps the cryonicists
themselves didn't believe in their chance of success.  Could I be as smart
as Eric, having had the same thought myself?
 Let me make a suggestion.  We all appreciate the self-policing diligence,
the skepticism, the credibility-preserving conservatism practiced in
discussions of what the future may bring, but when the dust has settled,
and you must guess, not as a scientist, not as a rationalist, but as an
advocate, then make your best case. 
This, then, is mine. 
Time is our ally like no other.  We have four billion years...er, 500
million years, to get the job done.  (Remind yourself, occasionally, of
this.  Remind yourself of the supreme achievement of ultra-low-temperature
stasis.  Remind yourself of something unfathomable because it is utterly
unprecedented in human experience.  Work a while to get a grasp of what it
means: the conquest of time.  If freezing damage, so thoroughly fixated on
and easy to apprehend, is the downside, then the absence of a time limit,
is the upside--we've got 500 MILLION YEARS to get the job done--judge for
yourself their relative importance.)  Add to this the fact that no physical
law, according to our current understanding, prohibits post-suspension
	Now what have you got?  No time limit and a clear road ahead.  It follows
therefore, that the likelihood of FAILURE is small.  =85SUCCESS IS A NEAR
CERTAINTY=85   The burden of proof lies with the critics. =85SUCCESS IS A NEAR
CERTAINTY=85 There is no current scientific evidence to support a pessimistic
outlook. =85SUCCESS IS A NEAR CERTAINTY=85 No mechanism of failure is currently
known. =85SUCCESS IS A NEAR CERTAINTY=85 To overcome unfounded negativity,
learn this meme:
                      SUCCESS IS A NEAR CERTAINTY
		   (Smile, you are going to live forever.)

P.S.  Cryonics can be fun if you know how to have fun.

			Best, Jeff Davis

	   "Everything's hard till you know how to do it."
					Ray Charles			=09

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