X-Message-Number: 16390
Date: Wed, 30 May 2001 17:49:08 +0000 ()
From: Louis Epstein <>
Subject: Replies to CryoNet #16378 - #16385,and more

On 30 May 2001, CryoNet wrote:

> CryoNet - Wed 30 May 2001
>     #16378: CryoNet #16369 - #16377 [Thomas Donaldson]
>     #16380: Why also storing DNA makes sense for survival. [George Smith]
>     #16381: Re: choice [Jeffrey Soreff]
>     #16382: Re: CryoNet - #16377 [Graham  Hipkiss]
>     #16385: Reply to Epstein #16377 [Mike Perry]
> Administrivia
> To subscribe to CryoNet, send email to:
> ---------------------------------------------------
> Message #16378 Date: Tue, 29 May 2001 10:24:05 -0400
> From: Thomas Donaldson <>
> Subject: CryoNet #16369 - #16377
> When I think of the argument this way it seems to me hard to argue that
> I or anyone would want to continue living in ANY CIRCUMSTANCES AT ALL.
> But then those circumstances which would make ME decide on suicide
> would have to be quite extreme. It would be interesting for the 
> parties in this argument to look at it in this way.

There are no circumstances at all where I would
consider it right to decide on delberate suicide.
What discretion exists lies in what measures one
takes to stay alive and what risks one avoids.

It's the difference besides deciding whether or not
to enlist in your own side's army,and going over to
join the other side.
> Given that we'd inevitably want to test any change, it's not even obvious
> that we would change faster than by "normal" evolution (sure, some people
> will take up all kinds of design, but the issue of natural selection
> remains. Fortunately, because we're doing it to ourselves, a change
> which turns out to be BAD can be reversed).

Ah,but what if irreversibility turns out to be what's bad 
about it?

> ----------------------------------------------------------
> Message #16380 From: "George Smith" <>
> Subject: Why also storing DNA makes sense for survival.
> Date: Tue, 29 May 2001 11:21:06 -0700
> Louis Epstein's question was a good one.  I hope I've succeeded in
> answering it.

Well,you answered,but effectively with "I don't know".
Which is not to say I oppose saving DNA.

> ------------------------------------------------------
> Message #16381 Date: Tue, 29 May 2001 15:50:55 -0400
> From: Jeffrey Soreff <>
> Subject: Re: choice
> I too value individual autonomy.  Personally, longevity is not directly
> an end in itself, but a means towards maximizing my enjoyment of my life.
> Depending on circumstances, optimizing for this goal might entail any of
> the options you list, so I want them all available.  Barring circumstances
> where it is completely unavoidable (e.g. coma), I certainly don't want
> anyone else imposing choices on me!

Of course,cryonics is no insulation from others imposing choices;
cryosuspension is an indefinitely long,questionably reversible "coma"
at best.If you get revived,your body may have been moved a dozen times,
modified,or more.And the choices may be made by people you never thought
would wind up running your cryonics organization,or future regulators
compelling the organization to do the last things you would want.

> --------------------------------------------------------
> Message #16382 Date: Tue, 29 May 2001 23:29:11 +0100
> From: "Graham  Hipkiss" <>
> Subject: Re: CryoNet - #16377
> We must also guard against ARROGANCE, by States, Religions and people,
> who believe they have the right to impose their own volition on others.
> I believe all people should be cryonically preserved, but respect the
> wishes of those who chose otherwise.

It is reasonable to allow someone to decline cryonic preservation.
It is anything but reasonable to allow someone to deliberately 
seek death.
> To insist that people should suffer pain, discomfort and humiliation to the
> last possible moment, I find abhorrent. To insist that people have to be
> tormented with the knowledge that they are imposing a physical and emotional
> burden on their loved ones as long as possible, I find repugnant.
> It is common sense that countries which value individual freedom are the
> ones that will embrace both euthanasia and cryonic preservation. Countries
> that are intolerant to euthanasia are more likely to be intolerant to
> cryonics.

We have different ideas of "common sense".
To those who embrace euthanasia,cryonic preservation
does not gibe with their concept of "death with dignity"
as a natural and inevitable part of the order of things.
To those who find the deliberate embrace of death
abhorrent and repugnant,cryonic preservation is a logical
strategy to avoid death.

Take careful note of Oregon.Another thing that has been
discussed(but not enacted) there is government health care.
This has been conceived of as establishing guaranteed levels
of care for various ills,to be provided to all as a right,
**and prohibiting people from seeking additional care**.
Justifications of equal rights,fair allocation of resources,
etc. would be used to limit people's right to stay alive.

This mentality fits euthanasia supporters...it is lethal
to cryonics supporters.

> ----------------------------------------------------
> Message #16385 Date: Wed, 30 May 2001 00:09:43 -0700
> From: Mike Perry <>
> Subject: Reply to Epstein #16377
> >As far as I am concerned,a wish to die is insane by
> >definition,and the person who has it needs to be
> >protected from its consequences.Others don't have
> >a right to wilfully end your life,and NEITHER DO YOU.

> I support free choice, but certainly I don't like it when people choose death.

As noted above,I believe they can choose how hard to fight to
stay alive,but not to do anything where death is a known and
chosen aim of the act...where death is the thing the person
wanted.(I am,quite frankly,inclined to scream a demand that
a person pointing a gun at me surrender at once.If he shoots,
that's not what I WANTED him to do,even if the *expected*
> > > To me a severed head is simply a kind of amputee (one needing special
> > > support, to be sure, but so what?). A person without a leg or arm is
> > > still a whole person, ditto with a severed head. Maybe only a few today
> > > would agree--but that doesn't make the others right.
> >
> >Certainly it's possible for a small minority to be right
> >about something when conventional wisdom is wrong.But
> >I'm not saying this is such a case...and indeed,the
> >lack of sustainability is a serious factor.
> I don't see it as an important factor in the long run. Sustainability 
> should be recoverable.

When you argue in the face of all precdent,
you can expect that few will be persuaded.

I can just see the consequences for places
where execution is by beheading...

> > > > > An anencephalic clone is no person. So it ought not to be
> > > > > considered "abusive" -- you aren't abusing anybody.
> > > >
> > > >Again,there will be people arguing this.Look at the
> > > >anti-abortionists proclaiming zygotes and blastulas
> > > >to be citizens with civil rights...they certainly
> > > >have no differentiated organs at all.
> > >
> > > They are not persons either in my view.
> >
> >Yet they differ from persons in having the same sort
> >of lack of sustainable independent existence as
> >applies to severed heads.
> This similarity is not what I see as important. In the one case, we have no 
> brain, no consciousness, in the other, both (or potential for it at least); 
> that's a big difference.

Well,couldn't the same science that created
anencephalic clones also produce bodiless
brains?...almost certainly,since you see
cryopreserved brains as surviving to be

And couldn't it thus be argued by those who
define personhood differently that the
anencephalic clone is "entitled" to have
a brain created for it-as-person,since the
ability to grow such brains means it DOES
have potential-for-consciousness?

Can of worms.

> > > >So a "pinhead" is not a person to you...is a brain
> > > >by itself a person to you?
> > > >
> > > >How about a cerebrum by itself?
> > >
> > > I recognize the possibility of gray areas between person and non-person;
> > > it's not always a simple matter to judge. Zygotes, blastulas, and

> > > anencephalic clones seem to me to be so clearly on the nonperson side that
> > > there is no reason to think otherwise. A whole, intact brain is clearly a
> > > person, on the other hand, an amputee like the severed head. A cerebrum
> > > also would qualify as a person, I think, because memories are stored
> > > there.
> >
> >Have there been any cryonics cases where just a brain was preserved,
> >besides Luna Wilson?
> Yes. I don't have a list handy, but there have been several.

All at Alcor,I presume?
Is there a published number of how many
whole-body patients Alcor has preserved?
Probably MUCH fewer than CI.

> > > A pinhead--I'm inclined to be lenient in cases of mental defects, as long
> > > as you clearly have sentience, especially if it includes human properties
> > > such as some ability to communicate linguistically.
> >
> >I've seen "pinhead" used as a colloquial term used for those
> >born with anencephaly,not sure what others the term is applied
> >to.
> I thought "pinhead" referred to someone who was still sentient, not fully 
> anencephalic. My Shorter Oxford English Dictionary says simply, when 
> applied to humans, "a person with a small head; esp. (fig.) a stupid 
> person, a fool."

Well,that's one meaning.Just as "moron","imbecile","idiot"
have colloquial meanings used to attribute foolishness,
and clinical meanings for various degrees of retardation.

I'm pretty sure I have heard of a sideshow freak called
"Pooky the Pinhead"...his shrunken skull having a definite
point in the back.And I believe the term has been used as
a designation for anencephaly.

> > > And all sentient beings have some value as such, in my view, so
> > > this means you would tender respect toward even severely impaired
> > > humans who still were marginally sentient.
> >
> >Perhaps medical fixes for their impairments
> >will be developed in due course.
> I think so.

But again,as noted,what if anencephaly is something
for which a fix is developed?

And it occurs to me that someone who has a body
that was modified to develop without a brain
might be at a disadvantage when healing from
brain injury.How could the genetic modification
be reversed?

> > > I hope to see the human species, meaning the biological entity we 
> > > presently call homo sapiens, become extinct within a century or so.
> >
> >I want to see it last longer than any species in the
> >history of life has ever lasted.
> >
> > > Of course we, the individuals, will (I strongly hope) live on and on
> > > instead, having outgrown this earlier phase of our lives much as a
> > > baby outgrows the crib and diapers. And I'm not saying we should
> > > repudiate the past either--far from it. But we do want to go on to
> > > better things.
> >
> >I see this impulse as self-destructive.
> >You do not build upon your foundations by
> >tearing them out,but by strengthening them.
> I don't propose "tearing out" the foundations, but I don't propose 
> "maintaining the building" exactly as is either. Yes, we need to strengthen 
> the foundations and build in other ways. In time though, we'll surely 
> outgrow our H. sapiens frame, and I think that time will not be too long
> in  coming, on the scale of history.

Where you see us as modifying ourselves,I see us as having an
unprecedented capability to avoid having to modify ourselves.
Evolution occurs in response to environments...but we can choose
and alter our environments in ways no other species ever has.
That is what makes us the climax of evolution rather than just
another passing organism.

There are possible improvements in our genes,yes...but
leaving our heritage behind should not be a strategy.
Certainly not one embraced by all individuals!

I know you're not the first to talk about this.Greg Bear
once said we would not look recognizably human in fifty
years...but about a third of those fifty years have
gone by since he said that.

> >Diversity is a fact of life to be accomodated...not
> >a positive good to be celebrated.
> Disagree with you there. I celebrate the magnificent diversity I already 
> see, and hope to see ever more of it. Let there be more of it! (No 
> fisticuffs please, though!) A dull world it would be, with too much
> conformity.

A horribly chaotic world it would be,
with too little commonality.

> >Regrettably those who see a need to stop being moved to
> >violence by difference forget that differences are for OVERCOMING.
> >We need to make them LESS important to us,not more.
> Differences may be for overcoming, but they don't have to be for one person 
> or group overcoming some other, in grim Darwinian fashion.

Nor am I saying that.I am saying that the differences need
to be treated as less important than they are.
"Celebrating" them doesn't help do that.

> Differences could be used for mutual benefit, as in overcoming states
> of ignorance, overcoming causes of death, etc. (As an example, consider
> different groups pursuing different interests, such as research
> interests, in different ways, which I think would increase the rate of
> progress over all.)

Likelier if they see each other as part of a single
project than if they see their own line of research
as a Holy Grail and their competitors' as pseudoscience
to be regularly denounced as wasted effort.

(Hmmm...have I seen some of that here lately?)

> >We need to grow by increasing the things we share,
> >not the things that divide us.
> Differences need not "divide" us, if we can take interest in them and 
> respect people for not all being carbon-copies of each other.

But letting it happen and looking for it to always happen
are different approaches.Don't look for needless difference.
> >[snip] I don't recognize the importance of the "species.." It's the
> > > individual that counts. "Species" is just a convenient term to apply to
> > > a set of individuals that have some particular thing in common. Its
> > > application in biology is meaningful now, but will, I think, lose its
> > > importance as we progress and become more than human.
> >
> >I am very suspicious of the concept of "more than human".
> >It may have meaning as "human,and ALSO superhuman"...but
> >the nonhuman must be necessarily seen as subhuman,
> Why?

For the sake of humanity,which you apparently don't value
as much as I do...

> >and the
> >survival of humanity rests on holding to that position.
> You have to ask what is worth conserving and what isn't.

I think I will have different answers than those
you come up with.

> I feel that my memories of where I've been and what happened, etc. are
> worth keeping, but I wouldn't feel that every detail of being human is
> similarly to be maintained forever.

Why not?

> And if I became much smarter than I am now, and more kind and loving
> than people can be, that might be called "nonhuman" but I 
> wouldn't think it "subhuman."
But if you differed substantially from humans in this state,
humans would have to think you subhuman,or die in consequence.
(I know,you hope they'll become extinct). 

> > > Ah, what does it mean to be human? Probably different things to different
> > > people, as the old saying goes. To me, being human is something that has
> > > its strong points, but weak points too, and ultimately, some unacceptable
> > > limitations. So I want to become more than human. In a sense, then, you
> > > could say that I seek to "destroy" my humanity, but only because I want
> > > to develop into something higher, like a child wanting someday to be no 
> > > longer a child. On the material plane, I think this will very likely
> > > involve abandoning the protoplasmic body I am now expressed in. Properly
> > > handled, it will be no catastrophe but quite the contrary.
> >
> >Again,a tree can grow,but it must never be torn out
> >by the roots.
> And I don't advocate "tearing out by the roots".

Abandoning your body is certainly tearing out your roots!

> >To become something divorced from your origin is to
> >cease to exist...a death as thorough as any other.
> I don't advocate being divorced from your origin. You should remember who 
> you were.

But if you are not the same biological entity,you are
divorced from what you were.A copy of certain aspects,
perhaps,but you are no longer human.

> >A computer programmed to ape my thinking
> >is not me...especially if it does not share my
> >conviction that a computer programmed to ape my
> >thinking is not me!!
> To me this is stumbling over semantics. I have a computer programmed to ape 
> my thinking right now; it rests between my ears. (Apologies to those who 
> keep insisting "the brain isn't a computer". I'll grant it's not like the 
> computers we presently build, but it processes information, so I call it a 
> computer.) Another brain just like it, which has just been made and 
> functions similarly, with my memories and so on, could lay equal claim to 
> having been "me".

No,simply not being the identical one means it is not you.
Millions of identical coins are minted every year...they
are not each other.Copies are not originals.

> And I think it's the information processing that counts, not the
> mechanism that does the processing, so in principle a brain could 
> be realized in a non-protoplasmic substrate. I see no problem with this.

I think you're blind to the problem with this.
And consider it important not to be.

> >And the abandonment of humanity would be a catastrophe,
> >even MORE so because there would be those thinking it
> >not to be so.
> From your perspective. Again, one must ask, what does it mean to be human? 
> To my thinking, it doesn't depend, in principle, on the stuff you're made 
> of but on how that stuff functions, processes information, and so on. 
> Additionally, "being human" is just a stage in the life of a hopefully 
> growing and developing individual.

Certainly no (non-theological) precedent for that.

> It's the individual that counts, not the 
> labeling of that individual as "human." If we can live to age 1,000 and 
> beyond, then surely our first 100 years will seem like childhood, but also 
> I doubt if we'll still be slavishly sticking to the type of housing we have 
> now. We won't be "human" in any biological sense, but will not have 
> abandoned the beings we were, only developed ourselves to a higher plane.

If we're not human in any biological sense,we have died.
The copies of us that linger will only be programmed to
ape being us.
> >Dying,dying,dying.
> >
> >It's gotta end.
> Right on!

Meanwhile,an obituary in the news today is that
of Bernard Mendik,on Monday of cardiac arrest at 72.
He was one of New York's real estate moguls...
he took in about $750 million in sales of property
to Vornado in 1997-8.

What if he'd put the proceeds into cryonics
or life extension research?

The foundation Bill Gates set up has announced
a $70,000,000 five-year project to develop an
improved vaccine for an African strain of
meningitis.How many Prometheus Projects
would that buy?

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