X-Message-Number: 6567
Date: Sat, 20 Jul 1996 15:31:50 -0400
Subject: SCI. CRYONICS more prometheus questions

1. Although again I feel compelled to weigh in with some possible Prometheus
problems, let me soften that a bit by saying, first, that I think Paul Wakfer
is trying hard to be fair and honest, only asking now for TENTATIVE pledges,
to become firm only on signing a contract, AFTER the pledger approves all
aspects of the plan (a year and a half away). In addition, he has had the
grace to retract after some inappropriate remarks in the heat of the moment.
And he has ackowledged that some of my previously expressed  doubts were

2. However, the thrust and import of his continued exhortations for support
are really not fair--the implication that those who withhold support for
Prometheus are not serious about saving/extending their lives. This is akin
to a Democrat or Republican saying the other is treasonous because he has a
different opinion. The evidence is NOT as clear-cut as Paul claims.

3. For one thing, he is banking on developing proof of reversible brain
cryopreservation. But just HOW could the experimenter prove this? 

Are we talking about an isolated brain, human or mammalian? Pavel Pakhotin in
Russia can keep the isolated brains of hibernating mammals alive (apparently)
on life support for up to three days.But how do you prove an isolated brain
is "alive" in the full sense? EEGs will be necessary but not sufficient. 

Dog heads many years ago were kept alive for a while by grafting them to
living dogs. But a project using the latter technique would be very
formidable indeed, involving much more than just BRAIN viability. 

I pass over the questions--very serious for some people--of the ethics or
humaneness of this kind of work. An isolated brain might be in agony, for all
we know.

Of course the experiment could just use microscopy and various metabolic
tests to show at least that all of the normal anatomy and physiology actually
examined is still present, and that would certainly impress me--but it would
not necessarily create any great impression on the lay OR scientific public,
nor create any huge surge in cryonics signups.

In other words the end result--EVEN IF SUCCESSFUL--might not have the
hallelujah quality that Paul seems to envisage. 

4. Let's turn now to Brian Wowk's post #6560 concerning possible royalty

Brian suggests a maximum royalty of $50,000 per suspension, and says this
would push the cost of neuropreservation above $100,000 (assuming an average
investment of $50,000 over ten years, assuming no one buys the rights but the
investors themselves, and assuming a return of the principal with no interest
or profit).

Actually--if we leave out of account any possible economies of scale--a
$50,000 royalty would probably push the total for a neuro suspension FAR
above $100,000, since the new procedure itself is almost sure to be more
expensive than present procedures, and the organizations that offer neuro now
charge over $50,000, I believe. 

Further, the Prometheus company being for profit, the royalty would seemingly
be pegged high enough to allow a decent return on the investment. A 10%
annual return (very low for venture capital)  would require a royalty (in a
lump sum after ten years) of almost $130,000, if I have calculated
correctly--BEFORE adjusting for inflation. This seems like a non-starter.

Paul says, correctly, that IF you believe your investment will save your
life, and IF you can afford the investment and the suspension, then business
considerations do not matter much. Nevertheless, the profit angle seems to be
inextricably interwoven, and reconciliation is not easy.

Of course, if there were indeed a huge spurt in cryonics, that might take
care of everything, allowing a decent profit for the investors and reasonable
costs to the prospective patients. Maybe General Electric will buy out
Prometheus at an enormous profit to the shareholders. But all this is

5. Suppose the work is successful. Protecting or enforcing patent rights, or
benefiting from them, might not be easy. 

If someone could not afford a huge royalty like $50,000, or $130,000, on top
of  big suspension costs, but thought his life was at stake, I'm sure in some
cases he might just decide to cheat a little. 

Also, others will immediately experiment to find improvements. Some will find
improvements, and patent them. Then the original patent holders will have to
negotiate with the holders of the improvement patents. 

For that matter, entirely different routes to perfected cryopreservation
might be found--and might even be found sooner and more cheaply.

Certainly none of this is necessarily a show-stopper. One does not abandon a
promising avenue just because problems MIGHT arise. One does, however, try to
anticipate problems and head them off or form contingency plans.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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