X-Message-Number: 4409
Date: Wed, 17 May 1995 14:59:18 +0200 (MET DST)
From: Eugen Leitl <>
Subject: mea culpa

Dear co-cryonicists,

I have to apologize. I have been told by Mr. Kevin Q Brown
in perfectly civil but not uncertain terms that the subject
of uploading, though perfectly fascinating on its own, has
very little relevance (and interest) to the readers of this
list. Moreover, since many subscribers are caught in the
web of Compu$erve, they have to pay horrible fees for their
access to Internet. I did not know this. I apologize and will
in future never post on anything having but firm links to 
the mainstream. This is the last follow-up.

Discussion will we swapped out to private emails or delayed
until the installation of pure uploading mailing list which
is purported to go off ground in some 1-2 months according
to  Join us there to hear more ravings. A pointer
will be forthcoming.

Charles Platt writes:

> Wrong question. The real question I think is, "what has bloody uploading 
> got to do with cryonics?"

then elucidates his considerable efforts (why, he has practically
initiated the movement), says uploading will not become reality until
next 50 (yes, actually I would say about twice that long) years, in
short uploading will save no lives today, hence ROI over short time
won't pay, so don't split forces.
This all is perfectly true of course. Yet consider:

- since uploading will not become a viable option
  within lifetime of everybody around, uploaders are
  prime candidates for signing up. I will certainly
  sign up once I'm out of university and my finances
  are settled. I am also helping to spread the
  understanding of cryonics in my immediate vicinity.

- uploading needs vitrified tissue with minimum 
  information lossage due to postmortem deterioration
  and freezing artefacts. Destructive force microscope
  scans are prime tools to understand what's happening
  on micro to nano scale and thus will help to optimize
  the freezing process, which, I think, should be of
  interest to any mainstreamer.

- it is perfectly clear that however fantastic progresses
  the cryoperfusion/vitrification will be, freezing damage
  is much too great to allow restoration of original
  tissue without action of hypothetical nanotechnology.

  Let me tell in no uncertain terms that Drexler's designs
  are more than fantastic. I've read an early draft of
  "Nanosystems" and purchased the book lately. He has improved
  upon the draft, but not by far. His maths is sound but many
  of his assumptions are invalid. Don't be deceived that I
  speak from my view as organic chemist here, I see the enormous
  potential of diamondoid generic assemblers. And I see in what
  respects their constrained chemistry differs from the one I
  learned at the university. But.

  If one can do them at all:

  - they will be much bigger than envisioned
  - they will be slower in action and reproduction
  - they will make much more errors
  - they will be much dumber
  - they would be dangerous as hell to use, I'd rather wield a nuke

- uploading may interest fresh young minds sufficiently
  to join the movement. Currently, cryonics concentrates
  on pure preservation. This is not science, this is cemetary.
  The reasons are obvious: lack of funding. But perspectives
  remain gloomy.

Then he wrote:

> There is a lot of work to be done in cryonics before it will become 
> remotely reliable. Research, fund raising, public relations, and signups 
> are the obvious areas that come to mind. When you remember how few people 

Agreed. Money and PR are the constraints here. Money we might get.
PR will be tough. Real tough.

Thanks for your valuable and constructive comment.

> ----------------------------------------------------------------------

Thomas Donaldson wrote:
> To Mr. Eugen Leitl:

> I find it paradoxical that you dismiss what I said about brains on the grounds
> that it is unproven (it isn't even the result of MY work, I was describing

I wasn't attacking you personally. In the scientific community little is
proposed without heavy evidence. (Outside of the lab walls, that is ;).
I merely said that it was not very probable to assume pure binary synapse
coding. Hell, if the dynamic modulation range of a single synapse is
exceeded, sprouting a new one might increase it. I am not a neuroscientist.
I am a (bio)chemist. I do not know.

> the opinions of others) and then proceed to discuss first how we can emulate
> brains in elaborate NN machines and second how we can read off their contents

> ... all of which you yourself state are not available at present (ie. 

I thought it was obvious that it was more like blueskyeing/flights of fancy.
Above methodology does not violate any basic physical laws. Other guys
seem to be able to sell books and build industries on the fundament of
their cloud castles. (I'm not using names here, mark.)

> I have raised the issue of connectivity (neurobiological) before. It may make
> it hard for EXISTING neural net computers to emulate brains. 

There are not any neural net computers worth to be spoken of in existance.
Even the most elaborate one I know of, the SNI's Synapse2 architecture
has very limited power and flexibility. I've been at the demo and seen 
the specs. I was speaking of maspar wafer scale integrated 
neuroaccelerators yet to come. Connectionist AI.

> I will also say, about just how we might wish to be stored as blocks of 
> information, that I brought up the question of the longevity of such storage
> precisely because it is far safer to depend on something which you know will

> last 1000 years than to depend on something which must be copied (copying also

A human is soft and easy to kill. The process of living results in being
restricted to one single area of spacetime, while being subject to different
unfriendly influences. If I was to live 1 kyr I would never cross the 
street, never use any car or fly and look for a safer place to live.
In fact, life would become extremely boring.

If you are information, you can be stored. You can be copied and exist
is several distributed vaults. You might fabricate a limited clone, each
watching over other ones well-being. If a meteorite falls on the top
of your head you will be dead. If a nuke eradicates a single vault,
there will be others. I will be only losing information since the last
backup. (Of course, I will backup incrementally).

> subject to mistakes and failures) every 20 years. And this issue applies to

The failure rate of each individual copy is known. By providing redundancy,
compares and redundant representation we can reduce the process to 
effectively zero bit error rate. The process of copying can (should, 
actually) be automatic.

However, there is no need, since brain architecture, which, of course,
is preserved in the emulation, is extremely tolerant to lesions. Even
major ones. But tapes are inadequate, obviously. I wanted merely to
illustrate the fact that the bulk storage technology exists even now.
Durable and small, it will be commonplace in the future.

> cryonics too, but not as an objection: someday we will have much better forms
> of storage which don't require constant attention. If we are to be preserved
> NOW, however, we have no other choice.

I have also no choice since the technology will not be sufficient for
uploading within my lifetime. I'll meet you in the fridge. Provided,
you do not insist on other roommates in the Big Foot dewar.
> And naturally, any form of preservation will need institutions to maintain it
> and bring us out of storage when needed. Those institutions are presently
> called cryonics societies.

The absolute minimal base for any form of cryopreservation and uploading.

> Finally, as for the issue of uploading into a computer, one major feature 
> which all our machines (electrical or mechanical) now lack is the ability for
> self-repair. Even our brains have some small ability at self repair (not to

Actually, I see this as a plus. I can always swap out the information
when the module goes sour and insert a new one. (Make no mistake, a
molecular circuit embedded in a diamondoid solid will run several
10-100 years until sufficiently deteriorated. Even protein crystal
based ones will be quite hardy.)

> mention other body parts) and I would expect that these will increase much
> more in the future. As I've also mentioned, the present consensus about brain
> repair in humans compared to that in (say) salamanders is that our ability to
> repair is still (in a sense) present, but is blocked by other factors. And

You'll need a lot of self-repair ability if you get run over by a truck.
Or a car bomb chooses to explode just as you pass by. No, thanks.

> current work is now focused on how to remove that blocking. But of course,

It is blocked with good reasons. Unblock it enough, and all you get is
a cluster of wild proliferating degenerate cells. Also called cancer.

> the issue of uploading into a computer not for storage but as a new creature
> to be awake and active has been discussed at some length here before, and I
> won't go further into those issues here.

Yeah, the issues are long settled.

I enjoyed your post.


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