X-Message-Number: 13279
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 14:22:32 -0800
From: Jeff Davis <>
Subject: FWD: RE: Why cryonics?

Recently, there's been a bit of a cryonics thread on the extropians list.
Today, Billy Brown posted one of the most calmly concise analyses of the
information recovery question that I have yet come across.  So I'm
forwarding it for your reading pleasure.

>Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2000 13:49:06 -0600
>From: "Billy Brown" <>
>Subject: RE: Why Cryonics
> wrote:
>> Second, with emergency medicine improving all the time, the circumstances
>> under which even a young person might die and still be a good suspension
>> candidate are not completely out of the question.
>I'd go a lot further than this.  First off, accidents that destroy the brain
>are fairly rare, so even if you die young your odds of getting a
>halfway-decent suspension are pretty good.  It is pretty hard to die in a
>way that prevents your body from arriving at a hospital within an hour or
>less - just don't get yourself killed while you're off camping in the middle
>of nowhere.
>Second, and more important, most people have an excessively narrow view of
>what constitutes an adequate suspension.  Remember, if cryonics patients are
>ever revived at all, that means we're positing nanotech advanced enough to
>repair any kind of physical damage.  The only thing that matters in that
>situation is whether the information that defines your memories and
>personality can be recovered from your brain tissue.
>Now, what people tend to overlook is that the problem of deducing the
>original information content of a scrambled brain is isomorphic to the
>problem of deducing the information content of an encrypted message.  Given
>modern cryptographic techniques and abundant computing power, that means
>that no non-random form of damage can prevent a successful revival.  A
>completely random encryption is unbreakable, and so is a completely random
>source of damage.  However, very few types of physical injury produce truly
>random changes at the molecular level.  If the history of cryptography is
>any guide, we should expect that even the most subtle kinds of regularity
>can be used to reverse the effects of even the most radical perturbations.
>What does this all mean in English?  Basically, that burning your brain
>destroys information, but dropping a rock on it doesn't.  Most of the damage
>sources that cryonicists agonize over, like freezing damage and ischemic
>injury, are very regular in nature and hence should be very easy to reverse.
>So, your odds of getting an adequate suspension are very high no matter how
>you end up dying.
>Billy Brown

			Best, Jeff Davis

	   "Everything's hard till you know how to do it."
					Ray Charles				

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