X-Message-Number: 24870
From: "Michael C Price" <>
References: <>
Subject: Immortalism  vs. Life Extensionism
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 2004 00:58:58 +0100

Like Ben, I have snipped bits here and there to reduce the
length of the message -- without distortion, I hope.

>      Discounting of future values is part of the way people 
> rationally allocate resources. You can call it hard-wired as 
> a dismissive way of calling it irrational, but I believe the 
> opposite -- that it is rational. 

Some discounting -- due the real rate of return on capital -- is 
rational by a purely economic analysis, but the rest is subjective
and value driven.

> In order for a person to not be discounting the future, the 
> prospect of not living one million million years would have 
> to be one million times more significant than the prospect 
> of not living one million years. 

I have an erratum which I hope clarifies your point:
I misstated my views earlier when I compared the values of 
living to different spans and then dying, which I fear has lead
to some misunderstanding of "the" -- or at least "my" -- 
immortalist position.  Rather than try to compare the value of 
different, finite length lifespans, I would rather say that *all* 
finite lifespans have the same value to me, namely zero.

>     The fact that you would find it not worth living another
> 10 years if you knew for a certainty that there is no hope
> that you could live a googolplex number of years -- or for
> Eternity -- is [....] an issue more relevant to the subjectivity 
> of value than the discounting of future values. If this is truly 
> the way that you feel, 

That all finite lifespans are valueless.

> I am
> somewhat amazed by it, but I can recognize that you
> may genuinely feel this way or have these values. 

Thank you.

> I was
> similarly amazed when I first became interested in 
> cryonics and I discovered how indifferent most people
> seem to be to the prospect of living less than 100 years. 

Exactly.  I remain equally amazed that any cryonaut or
other life-extensionist, can find solace in thinking that
they are merely going to live a long time, but not forever.

> Whatever can go wrong 
> will go wrong -- especially when there is Eternity.
> Things can go right a million million times, but things
> only need go wrong once to obliterate you forever. 

Not if you're distributively and continuously backed up 
in real-time across multiple basement universes.  Or if
you believe that your identity at an earlier time can be 
shared, to some extent, amongst backups/ duplicates 
at a later time.
>>> Worrying about how to become "immortal" is worse 
>>> than worrying about how to get from (Y) to (Z). 
>> My take is the complete opposite; worrying about how 
>> to become immortal is what makes me take anti-aging 
>> supplements *now*.
>    Again, this seems to be in the realm of your value
> structure versus mine -- beyond argument. 

No, pursuing an anti-aging strategy *now* is a logical
consequence of *both* immortalist and life-extensionist
values.  Behaviourally they are the same (or at least very
similar, I should say, to be exact).

> I don't regard immortality as undesirable -- simply 
> unattainable. I want to live as long as possible.

And I want to live forever, irrespective of its perceived
attainability.  That's the difference in values again.

>    Unrelated to this fact, however, are other problems
> I see with "immortalists" and their attitudes -- such
> as the longing for a belief that immortality has been
> attained -- a belief that I believe is unattainable almost
> by definition -- and a belief which I believe can lead to
> reduction of diligence and hastening of death. 

You're right, this is an unrelated problem.  See my 
last but one comment.

Michael C Price

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