X-Message-Number: 21647
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2003 10:02:10 -0400
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: some replies to messages in last issue

Well, everyone, a number of comments:

First, for Bob Ettinger: where did I say that we would not intervene
to help lower animals? If you took me to mean that we would not
change the evolution of ALL lower animals into intelligent creatures,
I would agree with that... though I don't know anyone who seriously
believes we should do that. I said that when these intelligent 
creatures arrived on Earth, they would not find anything like a
human being at all. At most they might find a few primitive monkeys,
perhaps not even that. This would happen because the whole of their
history and evolution had taken place MILLIONS of years before us.
And so they arrive on the Earth, in the form it had in Cretaceous
times, and settle it, killing off any animals which might bother
them... not because they might someday become intelligent, but 
because dinosaurs wandering about in your colonies were a much
more immediate danger. I will repeat: we don't even EXIST when
they arrive, and their mere presence would mean that we would
never exist.

Second, for Ashraf: Welcome to Cryonet. Virtually everyone here
is interested in cryonic suspension, not because we think it is
the only means for immortality that will ever exist, but because
after looking at the world around us, we concluded that it was
the only one with any chance at all of helping us to live long
enough to take advantage of that immortality. And note that I
said immortality, and meant it. A mere 140 years falls far short
of immortality. It could be useful as a step towards it, but
any such treatment would still leave us unprotected and possibly
needing suspension.

For Mike Perry:
1. Quantum computers don't just compute faster. They compute 
   instantaneously (for some problems). Nor is a qubit the same
   as a bit. Regardless of what Deutsch or any other philosopher
   may say, a quantum computer doesn't look to me at all like
   the device moving slowly over a tape marked with single
   bits which was the original Turing machine ... and out of 
   which the definition of a Turing machine came.

2. You claim, despite my examples, that a language could be
   developed that would be clear to any creature capable of 
   symbolism. Mathematics itself did not come purely from our
   imagination but from our attempt to deal with the world.
   As mathematicians discovered in the 19th Century, systems
   of axioms for geometry could have several interpretations.
   Yes, math does have one advantage, in that we could begin
   our discussion of it with numbers ie. * 1  ** 2  *** 3,
   etc. But in doing so we are attaching symbols to things
   in the world, once more.

3. As for civilizations expanding, your answer, from an 
   IMMORTALIST, seems short-sighted. OK, so it takes thousands
   of years (ultimately it could probably be done in much less,
   but still well beyond the lifespan of present human beings)
   to travel from star to star. To immortal or very long-lived
   creatures, thousands of years is trivial. You are imposing
   ideas due to our present very short lifespans onto our
   behavior (or the behavior of some other hypothetical 
   creature). We would hardly break up with the people who
   live right next door, only 1000 LY away, would we? And as
   for dangers, what about the supernova that will occur
   100,000 years from now, in a star which will then be close to us?

   [I will put in here an ad for my own fiction, about people
    whose ideas and behavior are altered by immortality in just
    that kind of way. TALES OF SKASTOWE].

That's all for now --- not that I seriously believe anything is
settled. But its late here and I want to go to bed.

            Best wishes and long long life for all,
               (even Ashraf)

                  Thomas Donaldson

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