X-Message-Number: 16691
Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2001 19:49:45 -0400 (EDT)
From: Ruthanna R Gordon <>
Subject: desirable traits (on-topic, really)

I'm going to spend a paragraph being bluntly honest, just to get it off of
my chest, and then I'm going to try and have a dialogue that is polite,
productive, and on-topic.

The prejudice floating around this group for the last couple of weeks has
been literally making me sick to my stomach (the fact that I was catching
up on it over two days time probably didn't help).  In this category I
include those who think homosexuality is "deplorable," those who think
that "deathists" are by circular definition insane and incapable of giving
consent, and the one guy who seems to think homosexuals are the
X-Men.  There are all too many people who find it convenient to blame a
group that's been in charge for a few millenia for all the problems of the
world, but would obviously have created the same problems if their group
had been in charge.  Reverse prejudice is not a solution because
prejudice is the problem in the first place (it has certainly caused more
suffering and death than any of the other traits being discussed
here).  The strength of any species is in its diversity, both behavioral
and genetic.  Would anyone like to explain to me the advantages confered
by homogeneity and inbreeding?  Most traits, outside of those that confer
survivability directly on the organism itself, work better with
variety.  It would be a bad thing for the species if everyone was a driven
artist, or a dedicated farmer...  In the same way, its useful to have a
small portion of the species be non-breeders willing to adopt, and another
portion who prefer to focus their lives on something other than
child-rearing (incidentally, desire to breed is in my experience an
entirely separate trait from sexual orientation).

Hm...that was longer than I intended it to be.  Let me try and get this
back to a more definitively cryonics-related topic.  Several people have
expressed the view that certain traits are undesirable or insane.  When we
are revived, a great deal of rebuilding will be required.  This will
probably involve a certain amount of judgment on the part of those
reviving us.  They will not simply be recreating us as we were at the
moment of death, because then we will still be a moment away from
death.  So they will be recreating us without whatever defect or illness
killed us in the first place.  Then it makes sense to solve any problems
that might have killed us if that one hadn't gotten us first (i.e., the
cancer is gone, but let's get rid of the heart murmur too).  Then there
are the nasty effects of aging--none of us want to go through the next
thousand years with arthritis or mild dementia.  All good, so far.  But
how do we set guidelines for where to stop?  Do we each make a list of
what they can fix before checking with us (and possibly leave out
the fatal defect we didn't know we had)?  Do we make a list of what they
can't fix without our consent (and inadvertently leave out a personality
trait it never occurred to us anyone would object to)?

It gets more complicated, because someone might think one of the traits we
value makes us unable to give informed consent.  For example,
homosexuality has in the past been considered a form of insanity.  If
"sexual inversion" makes it's way back into the DSM-X, I could wake up and
discover that I no longer love the partner I planned to spend the next few
thousand years with.  The thought gives me the creeping willies.  Another
example:  the idea has been expressed here that *any* willingness to die
is insane, and that those who do should be forced, "kicking and
screaming," to live.  This idea strikes me as much more likely to inform
our revivals than homophobia.  Now, I have things, and people, that I am
willing to die for.  There are causes for the advancement of which I would
go into a situation that I knew I would not survive.  If this part of my
personality were to be altered, something vital would have been lost.  To
me this is not insane "deathism," but life-affirming, because the things
I'm willing to die for are among the most important things that I live
for.  I'm sure other people have traits, not universally accepted among
the cryonics community, whose preservation they might be nervous about
-entrusting to others.  I am willing to reassure Louis Epstein that I
won't reprogram him to believe homosexuality is not a defect.  In fact,
the prevention of such non-consensual reprogramming is one of the things
I'm willing to risk my life over.  Not everyone shares the priority I give
to freedom of choice and belief.

How can we ensure that when we are revived, each of us has preserved
those things which we *personally* consider vital to our selfhood?  Each 
of us has a level of personality change beyond which we would consider the
product to be someone else.  Some of us would be satisfied with uploading
or duplication; others don't consider these real survival.  We have spent
endless bandwidth in debating these differences.  We will never come to
agreement and we don't need to--what's important is that each cryonicist
is revived in a manner that meets *his or her* requirements, not
somebody else's.  I don't know that everyone will agree with me on this,
but I would point out that it is in all of your best interests to.  It
relieves you of the need to convince several hundred highly opinionated
people of your definition of selfhood in order to survive (by your
definition rather than theirs).  I'm not telling people to stop the
uploading debate (I retired from cat-herding a while back), but suggesting
that we also talk about how we can ensure that our individual desires for
survival are actually met.

Freedom and Long Life,
 Ruthanna Gordon				    
*If God hadn't meant people to have wings, S/He wouldn't have made them*
			      *want to fly.*

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