X-Message-Number: 2832
Subject: CRYONICS and the Profit Motive
From:  (Ben Best)
Date: Sat, 25 Jun 1994 13:55:00 -0400

    I am ideologically very pro-capitalist. I believe that productive
activity is most efficient when it is driven by monetary incentives
rather than state coercion, social sanctions or agape love. Money,
moreover, can be a means to many ends. Money alone may be
insufficient for love or long-term survival, but it can make a
considerable contribution to improving the conditions for these goals
to be acheived.

   Although nearly everyone can be motivated by monetary incentives,
the percent of the population highly motivated by the prospect of a
greatly extended lifespans seems very tiny to me. Although the same
results can often be produced by different incentives, I think close
attention should be paid to motivation in assessing the consequences
of human actions.

   Cryonicists tend to be people with wide interests, abilities and
adaptability. Therefore, they have been able to acquire many of the
diverse skills that have been necessary for the multi-faceted cryonics
program. Nonetheless, since cryonicists constitute only a miniscule
percentage of the population, it follows that professionals and
specialists for the tasks needed for cryonics are usually more readily
available outside of the cryonics community than inside.

   Is there a qualitative difference between a cryonicist doing
potentially life-saving surgery during a cryonic suspension, and
a non-cryonicist surgeon who believes he or she is simply cutting a
corpse? Can professionalism or pay produce adequate motivation to
respond with urgency and diligence under all circumstances?

   For positions dealing with the public, I believe that the use of
cryonicists is essential. Many of the details of sign-up are
awesomely repetitious and tedious, but I think that the long-term
consequences of having these tasks done by "paid help" could be

   Several years ago I was approached by a used car salesman who wanted
to start a cryonics organization in Canada. His plan was to solicit
cryonics sign-ups in rich neighborhoods and then build a cryonics
facility when he got enough money. Once I convinced him of the small
likelihood of near-term profit, he lost all interest in cryonics. Most
attempted new businesses fail within a few years -- and the consequences
of a failed cryonics business could be disastrous for the cryonics

   Paul Segall has said that cryonics research won't go very far until
profit-potential brings big money into the field. BioTime,
BioPreservation and 21st Century Medicine are making laudable efforts
toward making cryobiological procedures relevant to contemporary
medicine. But the essential task of being able to take human brains to
very low temperature without loss of viability is still of little
interest to scientists or businesspeople outside of cryonics.

   Professional managers could conceivably bring many skills to cryonics
organizations. But to what extent will such people think of cryonics
patients as liabilities rather than assets? During the Dora Kent crisis
Alcor entrusted nearly a hundred thousand dollars to a professional who
absconded with the funds. Would a convinced cryonicist have refrained
from absconding out of concern for long-term survival?

    It is not enough to say that non-cryonicists aren't INTERESTED in
long-term survival -- they don't even UNDERSTAND it. This can have
serious consequences. It is therefore my preference that the work of
cryonics be done primarily by cryonicists. I also acknowledge that
in many cases paid professionals are superior to self-taught
cryonicists. But I think these professionals should be used with
caution -- and their responsibilities should be clearly defined and
closely monitored.

                   -- Ben Best (ben.best%)

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