X-Message-Number: 12209
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 10:02:27 EDT
Subject: future of pain & empathy

John de Rivaz and Thomas Donaldson have touched upon some of the attitude 
changes the future may bring, and noted e.g. that in the past our general 
standards of humane conduct have risen considerably.

From a public relations standpoint in cryonics recruitment, this area may be 
a mild positive. Ostensibly, at least, the indifference of many people to 
cryonics stems from the don't-want-to-come-back-to-this-rotten-world feeling. 
George Smith and others have pointed out that shifting focus from personal 
benefit of cryonics to social or familial benefit could help. 

But there could also be a negative effect, if we propose, or if people 
receive the impression, that the future will be too radically different--even 
though beneficent. Any really radical prospective change makes the prospect 
seem (1) unreal and (2) frightening. Still, since we are appealing initially 
only to a small percentage of the population anyway, it is possible that 
radical-but-beneficent future changes could help our recruitment.

In this connection I suggest again that readers check out David Pearce's 
hedweb.com and his book THE HEDONISTIC IMPERATIVE. 

In my books I have suggested great changes in our future mentalities, not 
just intellectual but also emotional and temperamental--that we should be 
able, for example, to live without fear while still retaining all our 
capacity to deal with danger. Pearce has gone much further, and suggested 
that the future will bring the total elimination of any kind of discomfort or 
unpleasant feeling, and not only for humanity but for all life on earth! It 
will also bring, he says, levels of  bliss or euphoria previously unknown, 
and these as the routine "human condition." This will happen not through 
uploading, but through engineered changes in biology.

I have a degree of skepticism about some of his ideas, but I give him credit 
for a major contribution to our thought. To touch very briefly on just one 
point, consider the realism (or not) of predicting unprecedented levels of 
bliss to come.

It surely could happen, since it already has happened. I.e., contemporary 
humans sometimes enjoy types of pleasure almost certainly unknown to other 
animals and to previous eras. Or, instead of comparing animals or eras, just 
look at yourself from time to time. Most of us--or at least some of us--have 
had "peak" experiences that make ordinary pleasures seem tame. Since it 
happens, it must be possible, and I don't know any special reason why it 
should not be possible on a more or less routine basis.

Onward and upward, excelsior!

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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