X-Message-Number: 12386
From: "John de Rivaz" <>
Subject: Re: Religious Authority and Cryonics
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 12:06:39 +0100

Dr Robinson, many thanks for this detailed reply, which I have appended in
full and cross posted sci.cryonics and also sent to the cryonet mailing

In comment to specifics, cryoncists are well aware that 100% reclamation or
reanimation to the instant before demise is unlikely. Nothing is perfectly
safe or exact. To give a strict definition of how much is enough is rather
difficult, and certainly restoring basic reflexes only would be inadequate.

But I think that modern medical and legal practise already gives some
pointers in how partial (or even total) amnesia cases are treated.

I don't think anyone can claim to know how exactly the brain works, and I
certainly can't claim to understand even a small fraction of what is known
by others. However I do understand that memory is considered to be partly
maintained by structure (better than recording on a hard disk, in fact) and
with a future nanotechnology capable of working at molecular scales this
structure should be determinable and hence repaired or re-built. The
following article provides the details:
you may also find it at

Sincerely, John de Rivaz
my homepage links to Longevity Report, Fractal Report, my singles club for
people in Cornwall, music, Inventors' report, an autobio and various other
projects:       http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/JohndeR

Ivan Robinson <> wrote in message
> Dear John de Rivaz
> I live and work in the 20th and hopefully the 21st centuries but have no
> desire to see further ages.  I examine the dead according to the 20th
> century definitions.  These vary.  the information the paramedic assesses
> establish life has ceased is different from the ITU specialists who may be
> assessing the suitability for organ transplantation.  I cannot work within
> constraints and definitions that may be in place in the future.
> You proposed definition of "A person is "dead" when no *information*
> with which to restore that  person. Therefore to kill a person you will
> not only to stop his body form working, but ensure that the program and
> is erased from the brain" is interesting.  I have visited the cryogenic
> suspension links from your web-site and I am better (but not well)
> I still have grave reservations as to the preservation of cerebral
> and think the hard drive simile is unacceptably simplistic.  The
> on the hard drive is maintained  even when the power is off, the same
> be said for the brain.  It is well recognised that post planned cardiac
> bypass and post cardiac operations under hypothermia a there is a loss of
> cerebral function.  This is when bypass or hypothermia is induced under
> optimal conditions (i.e. with the patient alive and medically as fit as
> possible). A terminal medical condition +/- death (depending on
> can only increase the loss of retained information.  You are therefore
> to have to include in your proposed definition of death how much data can
> erased as 100% restoration is unfeasible.  Is it just restoration of lower
> function (respiratory drive & reflex to pain stimuli) sufficient to
> a diagnosis of death or will memory of the scent the primary school
> wore be sufficient ?  I can see interesting court room exchanges between
> barristers in alleged murder cases.
> Ivan Robinson
> John de Rivaz <> wrote in message
> news:
> > OK, lets look at the definition of "dead".
> >
> > Once it was when there is no heartbeat. If this was still in use, then
> > people having heart transplants would need this definition at the
> > their old hearts were moved. They'd have no heartbeat because they have
> > heart. Therefore they are "dead" and may legally be subject to all the
> > various practises discussed here.
> >
> > At the present time the definition has something to do with brain
> activity.
> > However there is another definition that will most likely appear in law
> > books within the next 50 to 100 years.
> >
> > A person is "dead" when no *information* exists with which to restore
> > person. Therefore to kill a person you will need not only to stop his
> > form working, but ensure that the program and data is erased from the
> brain.
> >
> > It is rather like putting a sledge hammer through someone's PC - if you
> miss
> > the hard disk, all he needs do is to buy another PC, install the hard
> > and switch on. The sledge hammer maniac could be forced by the courts to
> pay
> > the $500 or so a new PC base unit would cost. If on the other hand he
> > smashed the hard disk in such a manner even the most expert restorer
> > not recover the data and programs, then he could be sued for replacement
> > software and also the cost of re-gathering the data on the disk or for
> > compensation for complete loss of the data.
> >
> > The act of autopsy on someone who has arranged for cryopreservation
> performs
> > that second process necessary to ensure death according to the proposed
> > future definition.
> >
> > Once lawyers accept that information death and physical death are two
> parts
> > of the process of death, then all these comments about injuring dead
> people
> > will take on a whole new life.
> >

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