X-Message-Number: 23081
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2003 13:17:35 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Cell Storage and Such

My responses to Randy Wicker's #23077:

>Alcor's cell storage policies were posted by Mike Perry.  He quotes
>Tanya Jones, Alcor's chief operating officer, as writing:
> >To my knowledge, no one at Alcor believes a twin is an adequate
> >representation of a person who lived, loved, learned and eventually was
> >cryopreserved. We'll save the limited representation of a cell sample, if
> >that is all that can be saved, but we prefer much greater
> >completeness--there should at least be substantial brain structure
>This implies that I advocated a later-born twin as being "an adequate
>representation" of someone.  I simply argued that it was a "possible
>representation" for those of us who may not survive suspension.

Well, I suppose it doesn't absolutely "imply" what you say, but you tended 
to give that impression. Thanks for clarifying, sorry for any misunderstanding.

>More importantly, I argued that a later-born twin would be a great advocate
>for the suspended twin in the hustle and bustle of the future when revival
>might have become possible.

An interesting idea, at any rate. People worry over who is going to want to 
reanimate them. Too bad. In the Venturist organization we are committed on 
principle to seeing that any cryopreserved people who can be reanimated 
will be--essentially it is a sacred obligation we willingly undertake. 
(More about the Venturists can be found at http://www.venturist.org .)

> >Again, to be "signed
> >up for cryopreservation" with Alcor it is not sufficient merely to have
> >arrangements to store a cell sample.
>I gather being signed up for cryopreservation involves taking out a life
>insurance policy and making substantial monthly payments.  After doing this,
>one pays a $100 application fee and agrees to $398.00 in annual dues.
>Charges for Neurosuspension alone are $50,000, for Whole Body
>Suspension you pay $120,000. and for Neurosuspension with Whole Body 
>you pay $150,000.
>If you are a non-member, there is an additional $25,000 surcharge.
>There is a $15,000 surcharge for members residing in the United Kingdom.
>If that isn't daunting enough, remote standby charges can range from
>$300-$3,000 daily.

It's tough, I know, but this whole thing is expensive, though there are 
different philosophies about that, and, yes, lower prices are possible but 
one considers tradeoffs there, too.

>Cryonics, like diamonds and limousines, is not something for the common man.

I disagree. The cost of cryopreservation can be met with life insurance in 
a way that is affordable to very many at least of modest means.

>In fact, I suspect those mocking Alcor would be astounded that its members
>put this kind of money on the line.  You don't do that unless you are very
>very serious.

We are quite serious, but the actual financial hardship is not severe in 
most cases, again due (for example), to the prospect of using affordable 
life insurance to meet the costs.

>[snip] I find it interesting that Alcor encourages members to deposit a 
>DNA sample
>in its dewars.  Could someone explain to me why this was originally done,
>apparently with gusto, but now seems to be relegated to a simple (but
>apologized for) afterthought?

I recommend you contact Alcor management. Contact information is available 
at the Website (http://www.alcor.org), be persistent. Email me if you have 
trouble, and I will do what I can to see your questions addressed. Also, 
it's worth saying that, on an issue like cell storage, there are different 
opinions as might be expected. Personally, I happen to be more favorable 
than many others for certain philosophical reasons. (More comments to follow.)

>I also ponder Alcor's willingness to "save the limited representation of a 
>cell sample, if
> >that is all that can be saved."  Does this mean that if I have signed up 
> for suspension
>but end up in the World Trade Center's upper floors on 9/11/2001 and all that
>is found is my thumb, that Alcor will store my thumb while collecting on the
>life insurance, keeping the payments I've made, etc.?

Alcor follows (or tries to follow) the members' wishes as expressed in 
their paperwork. If this is what you said you wanted, this is what they 
would do. Of course, you could also provide for a different usage of your 
funds in such a circumstance.

>That thought just came to mind.  My real concern are those terribly tortured
>people who come to me because their child has died and they want to possibly
>try to clone them.  I tell them that it is impossible at this time.

This is a bad problem, I won't try to minimize it.

>  However, sometimes tissue samples have been taken.  The parents want to
>save those, keeping at least some small hope alive.  The last woman I 
>dealt with
>just a few weeks ago was a single mother working two jobs to help put her
>daughter through college.
>I told her the truth, that she would be better off spending her limited 
>funds on her
>living daughters education, that a later-born twin of her son would not really
>be him, just a boy who would grow up looking the same and having many of the
>same characteristics.

This kind of response seems very honest and accurate. On the other hand, I 
have a different view on the whole issue of saving cell samples, etc. from 
that of many in cryonics, something I go into in my book, _Forever for 
All_. (In particular, the idea of producing a tabula rasa twin is not the 
only possibility. I think some of the others are most interesting. You can 
privately email if you are interested in a substantial discussion of this. 
Also I will mention the low-cost alternative of room-temperature storage of 
a cell sample suitably fixed, with the idea that the DNA should at least 
survive long enough to be mapped, when that becomes feasible. This could 
offer the same ultimate advantage, essentially, as the more expensive 
low-temperature storage of a cell sample, since the genome is what is 
really important informationally. With future nanotech we will probably be 
able to produce [for example] a clone starting from the genomic map alone, 
without having to have a viable cell, as today. The tradeoff, of course, 
would be the longer delay--not recommended if you are expecting a twin 
near-term, but we in cryonics tend to focus on the longer term.)

>At the Cryonics Institute, one can store cell samples for as little as 
>$100 for the
>collection kit and an annual membership of $120.00 a year, payable quarterly.
>Or you could become a lifetime member for $1250.00
>I see CI's approach as being humane and affordable.  I can tell you that the
>best spokespeople we have for human cloning are parents wanting later-born
>twins of a lost child.  They also elicit the most support among the public.

Well, CI has different policies from Alcor. It is my understanding that 
being a "member" of CI does not necessarily mean you are signed up for 
cryopreservation with them or with anyone else. (Correct me if I am wrong, 
anybody.) Certainly that is their privilege, as it is the privilege of 
anyone to become a member on that basis. Alcor has a different philosophy 
and policy, in which a "member" must have completed the arrangements with 
them for cryopreservation. Alcor also limits its services pretty much to 
its members--this is a management decision which you should get in touch 
with Alcor about if you want a full explanation. (Sorry I can't offer more 
information here--I'm not an official Alcor spokesperson.)

>There might be really good reasons that Alcor refuses to even verify that
>they have Ted Williams body.  I gather they enforce tight financial
>discipline since Williams head seems to have been removed to Sports
>Illustrated horror because full fees had not been paid.

In general, Alcor has a confidentiality policy that often restricts the 
comments it can make. Of course, and depending on circumstances, many 
people will draw many conclusions from a "no comment"--a price that must be 

>As I've looked at the alternatives, I've reached the point of deciding
>an "ice cream headache" is a small price to pay for the possibility for 
>another lifetime.

You are right, though it hardly seems likely you'd have that headache.

>It would also be a small price to pay to see my genotype lived on into
>another lifetime.

I'm curious, really, as to why you would attach so much importance to a 
person who happens to bear your genotype versus, say, another person who 
might be rather like you but does not happen to have this one similarity. 
Maybe "the more similar the better"? Also, if you just want to provide for 
an eventual twin of you being made, the room-temperature storage, low-cost 
route would seem worth considering. (I'll mention again, though, that I 
actually see some value in genomic preservation beyond the judgment of 
conventional wisdom in cryonics, for philosophical reasons that are 
elaborated in my book.)

>If I really was afraid of the headache, for less than $1500, I could take
>a shot at the possibility of the limited survival offered by a later-
>born twin.

I think you're not really "afraid"--good.

Mike Perry

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