X-Message-Number: 11899
Date: Sat, 5 Jun 1999 19:26:56 EDT
Subject: Skrecky/Supplements; Brown/Cryonet; Donaldson/Symbolism;

1. Doug Skrecky in recent days has posted several messages suggesting 
possible higher mortality for users of deprenyl, beta carotene, and (if I 
remember correctly) DHEA. Any comments from LEF?

2. The question of changes in Cryonet readership is one Dr. Brown could best 
answer. My own impression is that the number of subscribers has not changed 
much in recent years. I  know that CI has had an increasing trickle of new 
members who have favorably mentioned Cryonet. In today's Cryonet (Saturday, 
June 5) Mr. Panting has indicated an interest in the "philosophical" 
dicussions, and he is also someone who has recently become actively 
interested in cryonics. 

One might expect Cryonet subscribers to become more numerous with increasing 
numbers of people on the Net--but at the same time, the number of sites 
competing for attention is increasing even faster. Also, those whose interest 
is simply to learn about cryonics can do so by visiting the various 
organizations' web sites, possibly to better effect than by visiting Cryonet 

The upshot is that the purpose or function of Cryonet is perhaps a bit hazy. 
As far as I can see, it is reasonable to keep it as an open and informal 
forum for everyone with an interest in cryonics and allied fields, if Dr. 
Brown continues to generously donate his time.

3. Thomas Donaldson questions whether most of the signals in our brains are 
merely symbols, because they are "not arbitrary," and he asks whether a set 
of symbols can be so complex that it allows of only one possible 

I recently referred briefly to this question, in connection with 
extra-terrestrial radio communication, and I think the answer is yes--it is 
possible to construct a purely symbolic message that has just one possible 
interpretation, and which any intelligent being might decode with no help at 
all except its own experience of the real world. I don't have the citations 
at hand, but there is a considerable volume of references on this subject. 

I can here convey just a few slight hints of the methodology. The sender 
(teacher), using nothing but (say) dots and dashes, first tells the receiver 
(student) how to read numbers in (say) binary notation. He does this by 
sending first a dash, then a pause, then 2 dashes, pause, 3 dashes,....up to 
maybe ten. The student can readily see that he is being sent the first few 
positive integers. Then those same integers are sent in binary notation: 
dash, pause; dash-dot, pause; dash-dash, pause; dash-dot-dot, pause; etc. So 
we can teach counting in one of our systems. Then we can teach symbols for 
the elements by atomic number (I omit details.) We can teach a 
two-dimensional array of numbers or pixels, which can be used then to send 
drawings of anything, and also symbols such as letters of the alphabet. (Not 
so easy, but definitely possible with patience.) At this point we are 
practically in business. 

As Thomas says, whether a "computer" uses mere, arbitrary symbols, requring 
outside interpretation, or whether those symbols are uniquely and necessarily 
interrelated and anchored to outside reality--that is the question, or at 
least one of the important questions. In principle, there could be both 
kinds, and all current computers are of the first kind. But we must also 
remember that even a computer of the second kind, which could be as 
"intelligent" as a human or more so, could still lack feeling and therefore 
not be alive in any meaningful sense. Once more, feeling is the key, not 

4. As Mike Perry says, our knowledge is still so limited that no firm 
conclusions can yet be drawn as to e.g. the role of time in consciousness and 
feeling, or more generally the limits of validity of the information paradigm 
or the principle of isomorphism. The most extreme uploaders, as I read 
them--Hans Moravec, for example--seem to believe that potentiality is the 
"same" as actuality, and in some sense symbolism is the same as substance. 
Dr. Perry himself appears to lean in that direction, and we must at least 
admire the courage of this position. But the very important difference 
between a Moravec and a Perry is that the former is dogmatic and probably a 
gone goose, while the latter is more open-minded and pragmatic, and 
recognizes that cryopreservation in the hand is better than uploading in the 

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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