X-Message-Number: 5927
Date:  Wed, 13 Mar 96 14:44:53 
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Immortality

Thomas Donaldson, #5923, writes:
>This is a sad point for Mike Perry:
>I like the probabilistic argument for the possibility of immortality too. 
>However we should not forget the other side of that argument. I may have a 
>98% probability of living forever, but take 1 million people and 2% of 
>them (20,000 people, not a small number) will run into the other side
>and never reach that immortality. Our finitude remains. It is only myths
>that "live forever", and gods are myths.
This is a good issue to raise, and one I have spent some time thinking 
about. I think there is a satisfactory answer, one based on science 
not superstition, though it goes beyond the scope of such things as 
cryonics. It depends on the idea that "you" survive in your 
"continuers"--however and wherever they may be formed. If you were 
killed and your remains destroyed, and then by some random event
a copy of you were made, that copy would qualify as a resurrection. 
Considering the universe at large, then, there are many chances for 
copies of deceased individuals to be made, though for just the right 
things to be put in place again may be very unlikely, in any specific
case. But, in view of many-worlds (and even without many-worlds,
according to some scenarios), I think it inescapable that copies
of everyone, correct in the minutest details, must come into existence
somewhere, and even infinitely often. Those who die without
preservation, then, do have a shot at some sort of afterlife--though
under what circumstances it is hard to say.

I still think it's a good thing to try to survive in a more 
straightforward sense. (One of the reasons is just the "unknown 
circumstances" of any possible revival after disintegration,
and there are others.) This means *staying* in the world given
you're here--i.e. not dying if possible, or having yourself well-
preserved after clinical death.  There's where the nonzero
probability of infinite survival is important to me. I would like
to survive infinitely long if possible, and similarly I would like
others to survive.. If the probability is 98% (or some amount
<1, as it must be), yes it does mean many out of a large
population won't make it. Even for them it's not the absolute
end however. I would go so far as to say that in the long run,
it will matter less and less whether, at some (relatively
increasingly early) point in your life, you survived
some catastrophe or had to be reassembled later. But shorter-term it
matters more. So you can both justify cryonics and the position
that, in the long run, right will prevail for all.

Mike Perry  

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