X-Message-Number: 12251
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: further comments for George Smith and Bob Ettinger
Date: Fri, 13 Aug 1999 23:15:50 +1000 (EST)

For George Smith, again (and Bob Ettinger, too):

Perhaps you should study the problem of preserving brains a bit more. I
would not knock back any kind of technology if it looks as if it will
help us, but it must still be applied to OUR problems, not those of
preserving kidneys or livers. And when I think about the problems
involved in doing so, I see plenty of problems, each one of which will
have to be carefully researched. 

As I've said, I think that the cryotechnology pursued by Greg Fahy has
a good chance of finding a way to successfully suspend and revive
brains, with memories mostly intact. 

But the kicker comes when we try to deal with suspension patients
frozen by previous and even current methods. The very first problem (and
Bob Ettinger even refers to it) is that we'll need to know a good deal 
more about how brains produce and preserve memories. And then, on top
of that, we'll need to have a much deeper knowledge about the structure
of brains in general. For instance, even our cortex doesn't simply 
consist of neurons. Besides the pyramidal neurons, there are about 8
different kinds, each with their own role. (And I'm not discussing 
lower brain regions, either). If connections have been broken and
the anatomy distorted, we'll need to work out the two neurons tied
together by a connection. That requires not only some idea of the
structure of a healthy brain, but very full knowledge of how to
tell if some random piece of cell a) belongs to a neuron b) the kind
of neuron to which it belonged c) the neuron to which it connected.
(We're just starting to get computer chips with as many connections
as many neurons). It's not at all clear to me that most PRESENT doctors
would have the kind of interest in brain structures that we would need
to have to work out how to repair brains damaged by suspension.

And then, after that, we're likely to have to design our own nanotech
devices to do the required repair. A device that could repair a kidney
won't easily repair a brain; it's not just a matter of the information
it might hold, but the tools it would need to use, too. All organs
other than brains have all their cells totally replaceable. Sure,
they must be placed appropriately, but if we find a damaged nephron we
can simply replace it. This suggests to me that even with some kind
of nanotechnology we'll have to make our own repair machines.

In one sense, I do think it's correct that medicine will provide means
for repair, even of brains. But it will do so because the doctors who
provide such means are themselves cryonicists. Those who are not cannot
be expected to work on such a weird problem as reviving the frozen
"dead". Not that such work will only need MDs, it will need others
too. Even the computing problem (which for kidney or liver repair 
doesn't look very big at all) could easily require a computer much
larger than nanosized... even given the means for miniaturization of
computers available by then. (GIVEN the information needed, it would
have to sort through many possible connections to come up with the
most likely ones, then test out them all).

So that's why I think that repair just won't be an easy problem, even
with the kind of advanced nanotechnology we envision (incidentally, 
there are likely to be many different varieties of nanotechnology, too,
starting with biotechnology, which is presently furthest advanced).

			Best and long long life to all,

				Thomas Donaldson

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