X-Message-Number: 18443
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2002 10:52:21 -0500 (EST)
From: Charles Platt <>
Subject: future businesses

According to Ron Havelock:

"none of the inventors or early developers of any of these
technologies ended up being either a big winner economically or a major
player after diffusion reached critical mass."

Not always so. Alexander Graham Bell did pretty well, though he had to
fight viciously for what he got. Tesla benefited for a while. I seem to
remember that some of the early semiconductor guys managed to collect a
tidy sum.

Ah, but these were INVENTORS with PATENTS!

I agree with Ron that the current cryonics businesses should not expect to
be dominant 30 or 50 years from now, because they don't have any patents,
or much capital, or a significant share of the future market. Suppose
cryonics is marketed much as MRIs were marketed initially, as an ancillary
hospital service. A few MDs get together, pool their cash, borrow more,
and set up a lab for a few million. This instantly puts them on an equal
basis with any current organization, plus they have hospital affiliations
in place (for referrals, the heart of medical practices). This is the most
favorable model I can imagine, to allow current organizations to survive.

A much worse model would be Kaiser Permanente deciding to add cryonics to
its list of services; or some other equally large business with a
nationwide coverage. At that point, Alcor or CI will be like the very
early auto manufacturers, confronted with Henry Ford. A back-room
handcrafting businesses cannot compete with an assembly line.

This of course doesn't worry me at all so long as the existing
organizations run themselves reasonably well from a financial point of
view, so that they can be taken over by larger organizations with minimal
trouble. One assumes that the patients will be inherited, too.

As for an existing organization TURNING ITSELF INTO a nationwide service
with many branches and much capital, as Ron says, this contradicts our
experience of other businesses and the usual pattern of tech development.

One caveat: We are assuming (probably wrongly) that future cryonics work
will be done by full-service rather than unbundled organizations. I would
be very surprised if cryonics storage is not split away from cryonics
emergency services, just as mortuaries are a very different business from
medical care. Timeship has been planned on a large scale. It is
conceivable that it could be built to serve future cryonics businesses
that process large number of patients and then transfer them to Timeship
for preservation.


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