X-Message-Number: 15572
Date: Wed, 07 Feb 2001 04:39:44 -0500
From: Paul Antonik Wakfer <>
Subject: Mr. Smith goes to CI - #15563
References: <>

> Message #15563
> From: "George Smith" <>
> References: <>
> Subject: Where Paul and I disagree
> Date: Mon, 5 Feb 2001 13:37:08 -0800
> Paul Wakfer in message #15559 "Mr. Smith Goes to CI" made me smile.  I've
> always liked Jimmy Stewart but never aspired to comparisons with his film
> roles, whether filibustering in Congress in "Mr.'s Smith Goes to Washington"
> or in recognizing that sometimes we have second chances in life to change
> our minds for the better as in his more successful holiday classic film
> "It's A Wonderful Life ".

Perhaps Mr Smith also remembers one of James Stewart's other famous
movies, "Harvey", where a large mythical white rabbit plays the role
which I would currently attribute to Nanotechnology among so many
> Paul may someday actually make that choice to change his mind and act on
> some critical "facts of life".  I hope he does.  I wish everyone would.

I sincerely wish for the same thing to happen with Mr Smith and all
others who have abandoned reality for the dreamworld of warm
complacency, that they will all be "saved" by the Nanotechnology god and
have very little need to do anything further. If they change then I will
welcome them to the future, but if they do not change and they miss the
future because of their blindness, then I will be happy that they do. I
want to have more rational people in the future with me, not the
misguided and mentally blind from the past.
> It may be harder for him than for others to do so because he has committed
> himself in public to a view which,

This is a most insulting remark to someone who has shown over and over
again in public that he can and will easily change his mind when shown
to be wrong logically or in the light of new evidence. For a person of
high self-esteem errors are as easy to admit in public as in private.

> at least in my opinion,

Yes, please remember that this is merely your opinion and applies merely
to yourself since you cannot know how another person values things
(except by watching all his actions, monetary and otherwise).

> unnecessarily
> reduces his chances for survival to zero if he happens to die before what he
> believes will happen, happens.

But in my opinion, in terms of long-term probabilities my actions
enhance my chances of survival, otherwise I would no take them.

> It requires rare and unusual courage to be
> able to admit that we may have been wrong about something.

Yes, but again this is insulting in its implication of cowardice. In
fact, it requires an even *more* courageous person to put his/her life
on the line for his/her principles. I wish that Mr Smith and many of his
fellows at CI and the many who are witnessing these proceedings on
CryoNet had the courage to stand up and be counted not only on the issue
of the science involved, but also on the issue of the tactics that are
being used.
Anyway, as I have made clear, here in Toronto my chances are
significantly reduced if I should die suddenly whether I am signed up or
not. OTOH, if I do not die suddenly then I will get signed up and be
> But this error should rise above who is right and wrong when it involves the
> possibility of living or dying.

Mr Smith appears to reject that the principle of cost/benefit still
applies to a cryonics decision and that all decisions are logically
based on value probability integrated over future time.
> Paul and I disagree over the following points which I believe to be self
> evident (there may be others):

You may *believe* they are self evident, but mostly I *think* otherwise
as noted below.
> Life and death IS very black and white.

Yes, I think it is not, whereas Mr Smith appears to value coming back as
a clone to be equivalent to complete restoration of mind equivalent or
better than before, yet containing all the old. 
> The absolute possibilities of the future are NOT known yet.

I agree with this statement, we have no difference here except in its
interpretation. To me it means only that for a given X, it is not
currently known that X will or will not be possible in the future. This
is not the same as saying everything is possible in the future. Some
things will remain forever impossible.

> The track record of everyone (but especially scientists) to accurately
> foresee the technological future has consistently been profoundly TERRIBLE.

The devil is in the detail here. The track record of near-term
prediction in their narrow field of expertise is not bad at all. In any
case, we are speaking of what currently exists and its immediate
implications. If we fully used the method Mr Smith is proposing we would
simply write down all possibilities, put them into a hat and randomly
pull out one to go with. Surely, he is just as guilty (if such is the
word) of predicting (that current methods are unimportant) as I am.
> Magic CAN exist in the sense that Arthur C. Clark defined it when he created
> "Clark's Law" ("Any technology sufficiently advanced beyond our own is
> indistinguishable from magic").

This again implies that what we choose to act on with respect to the
future is nothing more than random guessing. If that is so, then why is
my choice any less credible than Mr Smith's?

> The technology of the future which can restore those now suspended to life
> will be "magic" by Clark's definition from our perspective now.

Or it will never exist, because it logically cannot exist according to
the (fixed even if currently unknown) laws of reality.
> I feel certain that Paul already knows all this.

I *know* what I have written above. I am deeply concerned that Mr Smith
and other aparently rational people do not.
> I hope that he and those he loves do not die before his hoped for "better"
> cryonics alternatives are available.

I hope so also, and my efforts are geared to doing the best that I can
to make that happen. If Mr Smith really so "hopes" then I look forward
to receiving his donation to The Institute for Neural Cryobiology, for
that is the only way to raise the chances of my life-extension through
cryonics to a reasonable (read sufficiently high benefit/cost value) and
his chances also in my belief.

> I would wish that he would realize that some chance NOW is better than
> gambling with certain death IN THE MEANTIME.

Again Mr Smith forgets or ignores that every effort to save ones life
comes at a price. If Mr Smith really wishes not to gamble with his life
then he should not use automobile or airplanes or even walk on the
streets. If the price is too high and the portion of life saved, the
chance of saving it, or the reasonably predicted length of that life, is
too small, then the integrated life-time x value of electing cryonics
minus not electing cryonics (or being signed up minus not being signed
up, in my case) may be negative. Just as the value of not using high
speed transportation may degrade present life so much as not to be worth
the reduction in chance of death that such non-use would afford.
> Current cryonics exists and is cheap

Cheap is not absolute but is relative to all other values.

> so the bet is really tiny compared with
> the potential loss.

This is an illogical and incorrect method of calculating the payoff. One
must also weight the bet by its current value and weight the potential
loss (life) by its length and probability of occurence.

> Any future technology may or may not happen.  That's black and white too.

No. It may happen to varying degrees in multiple ways. There is nothing
black and white about it at all.
> But one tragic drunk driver, one unforeseen accident and it will be too late
> for Paul.

Yes, one tragic drunk driver, or one unforseen accident can send Mr
Smith into a delayed suspension with extremely poor methods which
current science knowledge has proven are highly damaging and made
obsolete, simply because he refused to do what is necessary to make his
chances as high as possible commensurate with current knowledge.
> ...Maybe.

Hopefully, Mr Smith and others will see the light before it is too late.
If they cannot, then perhaps the future will be a better place without

> Actually I cannot rule out those who propose that eventually all possible
> human and other life will be reproduced by a super technology of the distant
> future.  The dead resurrected, etc.

Not ruling this out is not the equivalent to doing nothing to make
restoration happen sooner and more easily.
Frankly, I would rather experience the development of the universe
during the next few billion years instead of merely being a floating
abstraction which eventually may be "resurrected". 

> That would be the same mistake I believe Paul is making - placing limits on
> what might happen in the future.

I don't place any *known* limits. As I stated before, not everything
will be possible in the future. There will forever remain some things
(not currently known) which cannot be done. The laws of reality are
fixed even though as yet, and likely forever, not fully known.

> But I can't do anything NOW about these other futures which may or may not
> happen.

No, but you *can* do something to help yourself get to one of them which
is possible and in which you will be fully alive.
> I CAN be signed up for cryonics NOW so that IF I AM WRONG and I DON'T live
> to see the changes I am expecting in life extension, redundant personality
> backups and transhuman evolution, etc.,  then I WILL have done what I can to
> "make it through".

I too am doing my utmost according to my own values to see that I "make
it through". All that I ask is that Mr Smith give me the courtesy of
respecting my choices and attempting to explain them to others instead
of implying that I am a fool or a coward.

> It does however require a willingness to admit that I might be wrong.

See. The implication again is that I am cowardly and ego driven. Of
course I might be wrong. So might Mr Smith. It is my opinion (for the
reaons which I have stated) that I am not wrong and that Mr Smith is.
Why is it that *Mr Smith* is so unwilling to admit that he is wrong and
even unwilling to respect my choice and my arguments?
> That is the price Paul would have to pay now to better insure his survival
> and those he cares for.

No, if Mr Smith respects my ability to calculate my own values, then he
will understand that any other choice (doing as he wants me to) would
not be in my best interest (as I perceive it - and who is better
qualified to perceive my own best interest). To not give me this respect
is to act as an elitist. 

> It is absolutely a personal choice.  He will have to live (or not) with the
> results of that choice.

I have chosen to live with it, because I think it is right. I also think
and hope that the choices of others may be changed if they hear my
viewpoint just as Mr Smith hopes to affect others by stating his
viewpoint. That is all that I am saying. Mr Smith should respect my
right to do so without insulting my character.

> I am not a professional cryonics researcher.  But I don't think that we have
> to first be active experts in that professional field to see that this is
> really a very simple decision.

No, but Mr Smith should listen to the results and opinions of those who
are professional, clearly erudite scientists. Else, as I said before, Mr
Smith might just as well draw options out of a hat.

> The cost is small monetarily.

This is monetarliy incorrent absolutely in many cases and certainly
incorrect relatively with respect to money and other values.

> The possibility is that you have SOME chance
> NOW versus CERTAIN death.

Currently, there are many ways to attempt to avoid CERTAIN death and
none of these ways are certain by themselves. I am proceding to partake
of as many as I find are cost effective. Signup for cryonics when/if I
become terminal is one of them.

> I choose the chance because I can't prove that I will NOT be killed today,
> tomorrow, next week, etc.

Certainly, I also can't prove and don't know that I won't be killed
tomorrow or next week. However, my method is to evaluate probabilities
and current values discounted into the future. Mr Smith's all-or-nothing
method of decision making is not appropriate for me.
> I encourage Paul to think this through and be careful.

Again, the implication of character failings. In this case, that I don't
think carefully enough.

> If I happen to be
> right YOUR life and the lives of those nearest to you could depend upon it.

And if Mr Smith is wrong, and I did what he wanted me too, then I would
have done less than I might have to save myself and my loved ones, and
thus might have failed in the prime directive of my life. Sorry, but I
choose to go with my own judgement, not Mr Smith's or anyone else's.
> Please be careful.

I am very careful.
This admonition applies to everyone until better methods are fully
available to them.

> PS:  Paul also wrote in the same message:
>  The concept of triage is always appropriate. If the "body" is nothing
> > but a pool of "goo" or a pile of ashes, I think that we would agree that
> > sending it to the future is futile.
> I do NOT agree.  I CAN'T know what will be impossible in the future.  That
> is why my instructions to CI are to save anything and everything left of me
> and my family PERIOD.

It appears to be very clear now that Mr Smith does not think that
reality is built on a fixed basis wherein there are things which will be
forever impossible. Since we have not the simplest of common ground for
discussion, I will no longer be replying to any of his posts. This is
certainly a sad state of affairs, but without certain commonalities of
understanding about the world no useful dialogue is possible.

> I do not presume to know what CAN'T happen in the future.

Mr Smith seems to not see the logical difference between knowing *what*
can't happen and saying that some things (*which* things we don't know
and may never know) will remain forever impossible. It is the difference
between the following two statements:
1. X is not possible.
2. There exists an X such that X will never be possible.

Note that the last statement does not logically require anyone to
produce such an X. 1. implies 2. but 2. does not imply 1.

> Liquid nitrogen
> preservation offers the time to wait and possible win.

It has been calculated that even in liquid nitrogen disintegration does
slowly take place and becomes significant over a time-span of 1000s of

> I am willing to wait and discover what the future will ACTUALLY produce.

Not only am I willing, but I thrill to taking part in it.

> Time will tell.

I certainly will.

> That's my view.

And you are entitled to it. Please likewise respect my entitlement.

-- Paul --

The Institute for Neural Cryobiology - http://neurocryo.org
A California charitable corporation funding research to
perfect cryopreservation of central nervous system tissue
for neuroscience research & medical repair of the brain.
Voice-mail: 416-968-6291  Fax: 559-663-5511

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