X-Message-Number: 5235
From:  (Thomas Donaldson)
Subject: Re: CryoNet #5229 - #5232
Date: Wed, 22 Nov 1995 10:52:16 -0800 (PST)


Here I am again, maybe because I'm just talkative.

First, to Brad Templeton: YOU MISSED THE POINT AGAIN. It is essential to the
ideas of cryonics that someone will be available (together with a group of 
like-minded people) to revive those who have been frozen. The groups that 
will do this are the cryonics societies, NOT any unknown random collection 
of people. And if you are or think you will EVER become a patient cared for
by a cryonics society, then you have a very good reason to see that those
who have previously been frozen and stored should be revived when it is 
appropriate to revive them. The society need not even be the same one that
originally suspended and cared for you. But there would still be a continuity.
None of us propose simply to be frozen and then throw ourselves on the mercy 
of the 24th Century (or whenever). That's just not the idea.

To Randy: I hope that the 5% who were turned on go on to become active and 
don't later get turned off. And their surprize is exactly what many of us 
felt when we discovered that this idea did not attract most people.

To John Clark: "Chemistry is not responsible for thought, information is".
Given that the only creatures now clearly capable of thought (distinct from
unthinking calculation) are assemblies out of many chemicals, this statement
looks a little odd. Suppose I were to say: "Silicon is not responsible for
calculating, programs are". Again, in one way the statement is not wrong;
but it forgets the essential fact that both thought and computer programs
cannot exist at all without some kind of material substrate. Not only that,
but silicon has features which so far have trumped its various competitors;
no one yet has tried to make a computer out of dog turds. It may well turn 
out to be true that thought, also, requires special materials to work very
well at all (of course, the materials need not obviously be biological, but
there is still a point there).

One major problem looming up for producing thought in machines is that 
the neural nets constituting our brain have a quite different method of 
increasing their strengths than those so far implemented artificially. You 
see, strength increases by a synapse either changing its point of connection,
or a new one growing. Neither of these would be easy to implement well with
current technology. (If you know anything about neural nets, at first the 
difference would seem rather small. But if our brain multiplies its synapses,
then each new synapse will be independent --- even if when formed it acts
to strengthen a given connection. And thus the new synapse can then go on
to form a substrate for new learning independently of its parent -- and so
on). Of course, someday I don't doubt that we'll find ways to make other
than biological materials do the same things --- but even so the point that
there is a restriction on the suitable materials which can serve as a substrate
for thought still remains.

As for nanotechnology ever giving us "everything" all at once, that's quite
simply a ridiculous idea. Even if the physical substrate for that suddenly
came into existence, we'd end up taking a significant amount of time simply
working out just what it is that we want. Sure, and if we're all uploaded and
do that superfast, it will only be superfast to those who are NOT uploaded.
For the rest of us, it will seem a long time. Not that I seriously believe
that even the physical substrate will suddenly exist.

			Best wishes to all,
				and long long life,

				Thomas Donaldson

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