X-Message-Number: 5907
Date:  Sun, 10 Mar 96 13:23:03 
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Re: Virtue of Suffering

John Sharman, #5905, writes

>Am I right in taking it that all the cryonicists accept that a 
>"mature nanotechnology" is a requirement sine qua non 
>for revival?

Maybe not "all" cryonicists, but probably most of us think 
that mature nanotechnology will be required for revival of 
persons frozen by today's (and previous) methods.

>And that that expression ["mature nanotechnology"] has a 
>meaning independent of cryonics (i.e. "mature 
>nanotechnology is not simply defined as "such technology 
>as will permit the revival of deepfrozen corpses")?


>If that is right, what grounds have you for assuming that it 
>will ever be available at affordable rates. Someone 
>pointed out a while back in a related thread that the 
>alchemists' goal of transmutation is now available but is 
>hopelessly uneconomical. Capability and viability are not 
>the same thing. Just what proportion of GNP do you see 
>being pumped into the development of nanotechnology in 
>order to "make it happen"?

We have no guarantee that any future process, feasible in 
principle, will *not* prove "prohibitively expensive" and 
thus remain forever unavailable. But I think there are 
reasons to be optimistic. One thing about the "mature 
nanotechnology" we envision, in addition to being able to 
manipulate individual atoms, is that it will be very strongly 
computation-oriented, which means it can be used to make 
its own decisions and control its own operations. 
Automation should reduce the "cost" of doing things to the 
point that it takes on a whole new meaning. The "cost" of 
producing an automobile for example (should we desire to 
produce such an antiquated conveyance), might be 
comparable to the cost today of producing a swarm of 
locusts or a field of crabgrass.

Basically, an army of self-repairing or self-replacing robots, 
both large and small, should be able to largely run their 
own operations. Naturally they would be programmed to 
have corresponding motives, as need be. They might be 
made, for example, to have most sincere wishes to do 
precisely what we wanted them to do. To them the most 
arduous or otherwise taxing tasks might seem like the kind 
of enjoyable sport that people today would pay money for 
the privilege of doing. This would eliminate the need for 
much human intervention, which is what figures so much 
in the "cost" of things. (And think about it. You pay people 
to do things they wouldn't particularly want to do 
otherwise. What if you had a kind of programmable draft 
animal or slave that could be made to want to do just what 
you wanted it to do, without asking for pay? That ought to 
be possible.)

This is not to say there will not be a need for continuing 
human involvement. (Actually, "more-than-human" 
involvement, since we'll develop considerably beyond the 
creatures we are today.) And things could get very much 
out of control--we'll have to be very careful in setting up 
this system, which should have many internal checks and 
balances and be very robust. On the other hand, the 
problems ought to be resolvable--so the prospects seem 
good to me for a largely self-sustaining economic machine. 
In particular, I foresee a time when such things as revival of 
frozen people will be a largely automated process, which 
can be carried out with little in the way of "payment" as we 
understand it today.

As for how much of the then-GNP it might take to "make it 
happen"--my feeling is that the capability of reviving 
people will be a byproduct of more fundamental technology 
such as the development of a general-purpose assembler. I 
don't see a vast, specialized project being necessary but if it 
is necessary, then certainly it ought to be carried out 
(assuming revival is possible) and hopefully it will be.

The issue might be raised that, if people are to to develop 
into more-than-humans with all their drudgeries relieved by 
a self-sustaining economic apparatus, would they, in their 
superhuman majesty, care about reviving mere humans 
from a bygone era? My feeling is that at least some such 
beings would be interested in doing that, if it is possible, 
much as some people (myself for one) would be very 
interested in reviving a hominid ancestor or any other past 
creature, if that were possible.

Mike Perry, 

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