X-Message-Number: 20040
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 12:31:54 -0400 (EDT)
From: Charles Platt <>
Subject: Position at Alcor

I would like to elaborate on Dr. Jerry Lemler's brief announcement of my
new association with Alcor.

Earlier this year, Alcor did something which I think no other organization
in our field has ever done: It commissioned an outside group, primarily
consisting of researchers in relevant fields, to evaluate and report on
Alcor procedures during all phases of cryopreservation, from standby to
long-term maintenance in liquid nitrogen. With commendable courage and
trust, the organization opened itself totally. Nothing was held back.

As a tech journalist, I participated in gathering data about Alcor, and I
helped to write the report. The purpose of this exercise was to insure
that Alcor continues to provide the best possible service to its members,
consistent with current knowledge of cryobiology and previous hands-on
experience in cryonics.

I was very impressed by Alcor's willingness to take this initiative. It
marked a turning point for me. The immediate consequence was that I began
to participate in cryonics cases (three so far, this year). This showed me
that I could make a contribution, and the contribution might be well
received. Concurrently I had quit my regular writing gig for Wired
magazine, and was not entirely enthusiastic about returning to the book
publishing business. I needed to find an alternate focus for my energies
which would feel important and rewarding.

In addition to helping to write the committee report (which consumed six
weeks, on and off) I had produced two issues of an Alcor newsletter. I
started a construction project for a piece of equipment that Alcor would
use, and I presented to Dr. Lemler a list of other projects that I would
be happy to tackle. Two or three weeks passed, during which I believe he
consulted other people. I was extremely surprised when Dr. J got back to
me and asked if I would be interested in taking on the task of Director of
Suspension Services, if Alcor's board of directors would approve.

I knew that the position was open, and I knew how urgently someone was
needed to fill it. Since I had participated in eight cryonics cases over
the past ten years, I knew exactly what would be involved. I decided that
it was something that I would feel good about doing. In fact I can't think
of anything else that seems so worthwhile.

Therefore I was happy to say "yes." On Sunday, I met privately with Alcor
board members and Dr. Lemler, and answered many questions about my past
experience, skills, and commitment. The board then approved my association
with Alcor.

Now for the hard part. This is a punishing job. I have seen several good,
highly motivated people burn out in this job. I have no illusions about
it. But there comes a time (or at least, there _should_ come a time) when
someone who has been critical of cryonics procedures in the past should be
compelled to get out of his chair and go into the field and prove whether
he can do any better.

Fortuitously, I have achieved a friendly working relationship with the
people who work at Alcor currently. If they have reservations about me,
they have been polite enough not to mention them. I have certainly been
made to feel welcome.

I think this is a very exciting time in Alcor's history. Although I was
extremely skeptical of Dr. Lemler's initial ambitions to be an
"inclusionary" CEO, he has confounded my skepticism by gathering a diverse
variety of skilled and talented people, some of whom were not formerly
known for their ability to work easily together. This is a major
achievement in cryonics, where fragmentation, rather than cohesion, is the
norm, and good management has been extremely rare.

Maybe this sounds like corporate PR, but I really do feel that Alcor has
great potential at this time, and I would be missing a unique opportunity
if I didn't try to participate to the full extent of my abilities. I can't
deny that I have expressed concerns in the past about the longterm chances
for resuscitation of cryopatients. My statements on this topic are all on
the record. But I have also said, many times, that future improvements in
cryonics require us to make two difficult commitments. First, we have to
face facts instead of reassuring ourselves that somehow everything will be
taken care of, with minimal effort on our part. And second, having
recognized where the challenges lie, we should do what we can to address
them and improve our chances, whatever they may be.

I see this as the primary task for Alcor's director of suspension

--Charles Platt

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