X-Message-Number: 18414
Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2002 18:33:37 EST
Subject: Re: summit agenda

Regarding the upcoming summit meeting, I applaud this effort without 
reservation.  However, if I might be so bold, I would like to suggest a 
context for such discussions.  We deplore the limited time frames of our 
detractors yet when we approach the practical details of our own 
organizational arrangements, we adopt a similarly narrow perspective.  I 
believe as I assume most of you also believe that cryonics is an idea whose 
time will come.  We don't know when, of course.  Most of us are probably over 
our dismay that it didn't come after the publication of "The Prospect."  
After all, the idea was so obvious, so clearly and convincingly laid out by 
the estimable and beautifully articulate Mr. Ettinger.  Then we thought it 
should have boomed after two appearances on Johnny Carson, then "We Froze the 
First Man" but that was all in the 1960's.  Nearly 40 years on, we are still 
waiting and a hardy few are struggling.  We have at least two organizations 
which can actually provide services.  These organizations have gone separate 
ways which is to be expected and their leadership have strong convictions, I 
suppose, that the way they have chosen is much the better way, certainly to 
the exclusion of any idea of unification or even much serious reciprocity.  
However, what they both should realize is that when our idea's time has 
really come, neither one will be the big player.  I believe this is so from 
years of studying various technological innovations in agriculture and 
industry.  As the idea gains wide acceptance, let us say in the tens of 
thousands (still a tiny minority but an economically significant one), and 
assuming that these new believers will be drawn mostly from economically 
privileged elites (annual incomes $50,000 and up), there will emerge a strong 
economic interest, probably but not necessarily from the funeral industry, in 
providing these services at a profit.  After the 100,000 believer barrier is 
crossed, venture capitalists will begin to see images of windfall profits 
dancing before their eyes.  Then the fun really begins as a mad scramble 
begins to be the dominant service provider using every tactic in the book 
including merciless price cutting, deceptive advertising, books cooking, wild 
over-promising, etc. You name it. I seriously doubt that either CI or ALCOR 
will be major players by that time.
Unlike the internet which got a free ride from the government, there will 
also be no end of attempts to interfere, regulate, stop these developments on 
religious, "ethical" and who knows what other grounds.  These opposing 
efforts will ultimately fail, not because we have such a good idea, but 
because of the counterforce of a multibillion dollar industry which will then 
be behind us.
So what has all this got to do with the cryonics summit?  I think, first of 
all, that we need to be aware of this elephant which is in the back of the 
room.  We need to chart a joint course that will protect all our existing 
frozen heads and bodies because the elephant probably won't care about them. 
Secondly, we need to jointly maintain a strong umbrella organization of 
believers which is dedicated to research, information sharing, and 
publicizing cryonics as an idea.
Right now it appears that a lot of the energies and some of the financial 
resources of the two existing service providers is going into promotional and 
research efforts which would be better invested in this umbrella 
organization. Among other things, the umbrella group should be able to speak 
to the science and technology of cryonics with maximum authority and minimum 
self interest, referring interested newcomers to either of the service 
providers without prejudice.
Thirdly, I think it is time to have more serious and extensive discussions 
with the funeral industry out of which the anticipated elephant 
entrepreneurial cryonicists will likely emerge.  I would see this initially 
as a matter of seeking to make presentations at their meetings.  The best 
people to do this are those representing our umbrella group, not either of 
the service providers, and to keep the discussions focussed on the science 
and the future commercial possibilities for them as well as raising the level 
of acceptability of discussing such matters publicly.  Thus we could 
contribute to demystifying a process and an emerging technology to a group 
for whom death and dead bodies are already thoroughly demystified. [By the 
way, speaking of demystification, has anybody been watching the great new HBO 
series "Six Feet Under"?]

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=18414