X-Message-Number: 3335
Date: Sat, 22 Oct 1994 20:58:29 -0400
Subject: CRYONICS reconstruction

Ian Taylor has asked how (even given determinism and far-future nanotech) it
might be possible to reconstruct a brain hemisphere destroyed by a stroke.
Anders Sandberg has given some partial answers for partial success. Let me
add a couple of comments. (For the sake of simplicity I omit any questions
about what "destruction" of a hemisphere means.)

I naturally can't give any details or any guarantees, but some of the
stratagems might go roughly as follows. (Dandridge Cole and others have made
similar comments.)

Rather than use brute-force methods, inferring atomic trajectories and energy
levels etc. into the past, we might "triangulate" or use convergent
cross-reference to determine an individual's behavior and response patterns
(after using his genetic information and saved structure as a basis). While
behavior and response patterns are unlikely to tell us everything about a
person's fine structure, they can surely tell us a great deal, possibly
leaving a difference so small as to make no difference.

As a crude introduction, recall that many people can often "read" facial
expressions and body language to infer certain feelings and attitudes and
incipient actions in the person observed. Most of us learn such skills, to
some degree, just by living and allowing our intuition to become educated.
Such skills could certainly be honed and sharpened by finding the most
skilfull observers and studying their techniques, then improving them. 

(For those who minimize these possibilities, I recommend reading  CLEVER
HANS: THE HORSE OF MR. VON OSTEN,  by Oskar Pfungst, Ed. Robert Rosenthal,
Holt/Rinehart/Winston 1967. Hans was apparently able to do simple sums in
arithmetic, tapping out the answers with his hoof. He could do this even when
STRANGERS posed the problems. [ "How much is two plus three? etc.] But he
couldn't do it in failing light, and it was finally realized that he was
reading the body language of the spectators, and could tell by their
attitudes when it was time to  stop tapping his hoof!  This may seem just as
marvelous as a horse actually doing arithmetic, but there it is.)

So we gather as much information as possible about the patient, starting with
obvious things such as photographs, movies, video tapes, sound tapes,
writings and especially handwriting, diaries, publications, drawings, ink
blots, medical records, etc. We also do the same for all his close relatives
and contacts, if possible, since the interactions could have much to imply.
We even save or study his clothing, bedding, furniture, and autos, if
possible,  for their remnants of odors and clues about habits. We gather
employer and tax records as well as school records, if possible. And so
on--learn as much as possible from anyone or anything with whom or with which
he has had physical or communication contact.

Each bit of information will have many possible antecedents along many
different dimensions; but almost all of these possibilities will be ruled out
after "triangulation"--determining which possible antecedents are COMMON to
the various end points. Computer specialists--of whom there are many in
cryonics--will appreciate the countless opportunities for short cuts and
elegance of strategy.

Of course there will also be much to be learned from the remaining, not
"destroyed" parts of the brain. This will powerfully assist the triangulation

When we think we have it right, we simulate the person via computer and
hologram etc., and subject this to a Turing test with any surviving relatives
and acquaintances, if possible. If the simulation doesn't pass muster, we
fine tune it further. 

When this process is complete, we can presumably reconstruct from his frozen
remains a living person very much like the patient, including most of his
important memories, or very similar ones. If at that time we still haven't
solved the "philosophical" problems and aren't sure whether the
reconstruction is "really" the same person--well, at worst we are left with
some doubts, so what else is new?

Why bother with such ramblings? We have evidence that some people take these
questions seriously with respect to their own decisions on cryonics.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonic s Institute

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