X-Message-Number: 24826
From: "Michael C Price" <>
References: <>
Subject: Some Problems with Immortalism ?
Date: Sat, 16 Oct 2004 13:43:24 +0100

In http://www.benbest.com/lifeext/immortal.html 
Ben Best says we should be life-extensionists/cryonauts first
and immortalists second.  If we ignore Ben's cryo-PR reasons 
and claims of psychological maladjustment, which he attaches
to immortalists, we are left with his observation that people 
naturally discount the value of money (and other things) in the 
future.  I presume this discounting is hard-wired into our brains 
by evolution; by this reasoning we should get on with reproducing
like crazy and not even bother to try to live to 200.  So we can 
ignore this argument this as well.  Valuing immortality comes 
down to our value system, which will include the rate at which 
we discount the future.  Values are subjective, not objective. 
An immortalist (such as myself) does not discount the future 
in the way that a life-extensionist (like Ben) does.  
Ben says, in his essay,:
  "To put the argument in the most forceful terms, if you knew 
  for a certainty that you were going to be obliterated without 
  hope of further life at the age of one million years, would that 
  be significantly more tragic than an age of ten million? Ten 
  billion? Ten trillion? "
I would rather turn the question around:
  "Is it less tragic to die at the age of 100 years than 100 million
For my value system the answer is YES, it more tragic to die
the older you are, because more memories are lost the older
you are when die.  (I am assuming that we develop the means 
to stop the "slow death" of creeping memory loss / overwriting).
If you have a problem with this answer, try dividing the numbers
by a million!  Is the "death" of an hour old embryo more tragic
than that of a hundred year old?  Obviously it depends on
your values.

Ben says "with enough time a fatal event is inevitable. 
(I don't believe in "back-ups" -- see my essay The Duplicates 
Paradox.) ".  Ben has, like the fox in Aesop's sour grapes fable, 
convinced himself that he doesn't really want immortality after all.  

I disagree with Ben's conclusions (or rather lack of them) in his 
associated Duplicates essay:  
Ben should be applauded for stating 
that the Duplicates problem is presently unsolved in his opinion, 
but for me back-ups are a fine way to be truly immortal.  
I diverge from Ben's views about backups -- and therefore
about the possibility of true immortality -- at the point when 
he says:
     "Which duplicate is me?" cannot be answered with the 
      word "both" because one person cannot be in two locations 
     at the same moment. 
My answer is "both", because the "me" in the question is usually
framing the question *before* the copying takes place.  
Ben-before-copying asks: which duplicate (Ben1 or Ben2) 
*will be* me?  The answer is both Ben1 and Ben2.
Asking the question *after* copying is trivial, since we would
have to specify *which* Ben was asking the question.  I also
think identity can overlap, to varying degrees, between 
individuals i.e. Ben1 and Ben2 initially share 100% identity
(in the first instant after copying they are identical, mentally)
and they subsequently, increasingly diverge.

Michael C Price

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=24826