X-Message-Number: 12317
From: "George Smith" <>
References: <>
Subject: Reply to Thomas Donaldson
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 1999 15:57:56 -0700

In message #12304, Thomas Donaldson wrote:
> Hi again!
> For George Smith: nanotech computers and quantum computers are two quite
> different animals and should not be equated.

As Will Rogers said, "I only know what I read in the newspapers".

I described what I heard from the news broadcasts and stories I read last
July 20th.  If being able to "fix" the spin on an atom such that it can then
be used to digitize information (per Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle)
isn't a "quantum computer" and if working at the molecular level isn't
"molecular nanotechnology" (per E. Drexler), I give up!  What else should we
call it?  Itsy-bitsy atom-spinny computers?

No, I feel that the critical issue was how the news programs on broadcast
television were already describing how this breakthrough could lead to
molecular-sized machines which could roam within the human body performing
diagnosis and repair.  Best press we've had in years, if you see how this
connects to us in the long run.

> The fact that people are
> working to achieve each kind is good, but (unlike nanotech computers)
> some knowledgeable people still doubt the possibility of quantum
> computers.
This is only opinion.  Some knowledgeable people have always doubted every
major scientific breakthrough ever made.  You name it from fling in the air,
to flying to the moon, to curing polio, to the possibility of painless
surgery.  This is not a valid objection in my opinion.  Based on statistical
analysis of the success of scientists in predicting future events more than
five years distant, you could hardly EVER lose a bet by betting AGAINST what
current scientists believe the future will hold.  Seems as if they are
ALWAYS wrong.

> As for nanotechnology, if you include biotechnology, then we already have
> it and are improving it rapidly. What else are they working with but
> (biological) molecules?

Drexler has been clear about his proposals, as have others.  Maybe we will
never need to move beyond protein.  Again, we don't know yet.

It's also of interest that one kind of possible
> nanocomputer would consist of many strands of DNA.
Yes!  This is an exciting news story.  I have always been impressed with the
idea that nanotechnology already works (stupidly) with RNA and DNA.  All we
seek is a little more (intelligent) guidance in this area.  I truly hope you
are right.  But I don't know yet.

> As for the work of 21st Century Medicine and Saul Kent + Bill Faloon,
> they have already made considerable progress. If we pursue that line,
> we'll find out how to treat and store people for centuries.

Or that particular line of research may fail to do so.  WE DON'T KNOW YET.

But we already DO know how to STORE people for centuries, as you put it.

And I think this is at the heart of our differing views.

The expressed BELIEF by some parties has been that our current methods will
not work.  (I believe the term used was something like, "cryonics has
failed").  This requires knowledge of the future and we just aren't there
yet.  Thus it remains pessimistic speculation based upon current
extrapolation of some but not all data currently available (ALL of which may
turn out to not be important later).

In a word, I believe it to be hubris.

I feel what is needed instead is intellectual honesty.  We CAN'T know that
cryonics will fail since we can't know what new breakthroughs will turn our
current beliefs upside down, as has happened regularly throughout all of
recorded human history.

> Since after
> all a lot of bio/chemistry is involved, and chemistry necessarily operates
> on nanoscales, someone might even claim that it uses a form of
> nanotechnology. The really important point is that we have a very good
> chance of working out how to REVERSIBLY freeze someone in only 10 years.

Or we don't.  Again, this is hope.  WE DON'T KNOW YET.  And, putting all of
one's eggs in one basket seldom works in any form of investment.

> And finally, I doubt strongly that nanotechnology of ANY kind will be
> sufficient for revival of existing and former patients. Necessary,
> certainly, but not at all sufficient.

Unless you are wrong.  Again, this is only opinion.  We won't know until we
try to revive and FAIL FOREVER.  Forever is a very long time.

> I say this because I also doubt that
> any universal nanomachines (other than computers, if computers continue
> to be universal) will ever be built.

Unless you are wrong.  Again, opinion.  And, as you put it yourself, there
are "some knowledgeable people" who believe they WILL be built.  This, too,
remains only opinion.  NO ONE CAN BE CERTAIN... YET.

> WE will either convert the rest of our
> society to our views (likely, but not at all likely before we work out how
> to reversibly freeze and store brains), or do the work ourselves. And that
> work is unlikely to consist of only trivial modifications of existing
> machines and methods.

The key word here is "trivial".  What I can do today in computer animation
on a desktop computer for under $6000 could not be achieved for
$1,000,000,000 ten years ago with ANY equipment then available.  The
advancement in technology makes the unthinkable of yesterday, "trivial"

In other words, this is again only your opinion.  You could be wrong.

> Sorry, George, but my views aren't at all close to
> yours --- which I think someday you will look back on and see [you] were
> mistaken.

It won't be the first time I have been wrong.  But let's just be clear that
these are all only OPINIONS ABOUT THE FUTURE.

You think a lot of things won't happen.  I see them as practically

You listen to those who say it can't happen.  I listen to those who think it

Remember the story of the little engine who could?

Time will tell.

But to make it to the future we WANT, to see cryonics a success, optimism
should not abandoned due to mere speculation.  Optimism requires that we
keep our options open, along with our minds.

I firmly believe that cryonics is BASED upon a reasonable optimism.

Cryonicists, by this definition, are OPTIMISTS.

Don't you agree?

George Smith

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=12317