X-Message-Number: 8374
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 1997 10:04:34 -0700
From: "Joseph J. Strout" <>
Subject: Re: Marty's Nagging questions

In Cryomsg #8369, Marty Nemko <> writes:

>My analysis is as follows.  The probability of my
>being revived satisfactorily is the joint probability of the following
>The probability of my actually being suspended (e.g., not lost at sea,
>last-minute objections from family or physician) TIMES

Let's start plugging in some numbers -- just guesses, of course.
Last-minute objections can be prevented with proper precautions; the more
experienced cryonicists here can probably give us empirical probabilities,
but let's suppose this happens 1 in 100 times.  1 in 100 is probably also
about how likely you are to be lost at sea, destroyed in a plane crash,
etc.  That leaves .98 probability of being suspended.

>the probability of a suspension timely enough to retain my memories

This is more unknown, and varies widely.  You probably have a couple hours
at room temperature -- some would say more, some less.  Again, the cryo
orgs may have data for empirical probabilities, but let's estimate a 0.8
chance of getting a decent suspension.  Not great, but not too bad either.

>the probabililty that I will remain frozen for the hundred(s) of years
>until it becomes possible to be revived TIMES

I doubt it will take more than a hundred years.  So what are the chances of
earthquake, war, revolution, or religious terrorism striking your cryonics
provider in 100 years?  Hard to say.  Let's suppose there's a 0.3 chance of
one of these happening, which I think is probably too high; that leaves 0.7
probability that your suspension will be uninterrupted.

>the probability that my memories will be retained during the hundred(s)
>of years TIMES

Ah, an easy one.  This is 1.0.  As long as you're frozen, your memories
aren't going anywhere.

>the probability that a natural disaster (e.g., nuclear war, earthquake,
>etc) does not destroy my body TIMES

Oops, I already included this in the probability that you'll stay frozen.

>the probability that there are funds in my patient care account to
>revive me TIMES

This depends on your initial funding, as well as economic factors.  Also,
it depends on what happens when there is insufficient funding.  Descendants
may foot the bill themselves, or the government may haul you out (possibly
in debt), or your cryonics organization may pay for it and bill you for the
remainder.  I think if we get to the point where people are being revived,
and therefore we recognize these patients are *alive*, nobody will be left
in the tank for lack of funds.  Let's suppose there's a 0.8 chance that I'm
right about that.

>the probability that my cryonics organization or subsequent designee
>remains in business and willing and able to revive me TIMES

You've overlooked the probability that if your cryo org goes under, others
will take on their patients (and patient care funds), just as insurance
companies do today.  But that might not necessarily work, and of course
there's a chance that ALL cryo orgs will fail.  How about a 0.5 probability
that this won't happen (you can see that I consider this the most serious

>the probability that the revival will be physically successful TIMES

Hmm, yes, the revival might fail, and we have very little idea how it's
going to work at all, let alone what the success rate might be.  But they
wouldn't be doing it if it wasn't generally successful, and depending on
the failure mode, they might be able to freeze you again for a later
attempt.  So let's say there's a 0.8 chance of success at this point --
again, probably pessimistic.

>the probability that I will awake without dire pain (in my view, an
>extremely small probability) TIMES

Why would you be in pain?  If they can cure what killed you AND the
freezing damage, surely they can cure whatever might be causing you pain?
Let's give this a 0.9999 probability.

>the probability that the government will allow my revival TIMES

Why would they not?  If it can be done at all, then it will be obvious that
these patients are alive and not really dead.  It would then be tantamount
to murder to NOT allow revival.  It is like supposing that the government
might not allow you to be treated for AIDS.  Even if there's a 10% chance
that governments are so evil, we have a 0.9 probability of clearing this

>the probability that I will be allowed to go free rather than be kept in
>a laboratory for experimentation or zoo for observation TIMES

Well, might as well think of everything, hm?  Unless you can think of any
reason why a patient who is clearly alive and human, and who has committed
no crime, would be denied basic human rights, we'll assign a 0.99 chance
that this won't happen.

>the probability that I will have or could earn sufficient funds not to
>starve to death or otherwise have a life so meager that it wouldn't be
>worth living.

Well, that's a matter of values, I guess.  I can't imagine a life so meager
I'd rather be dead; I also can't imagine a society where jobs are so scarce
that I can't learn some trade.  That society would also have to have no
welfare system, no minimum standard of living, and no charity
organizations.  I'd be willing to clean toilet bowls for a few decades (or
whatever the future equivalent) rather than be dead, so for me, there's at
least a 0.9 chance of being satisfied.

>And those are the probabilities that I can imagine.  I would bet that
>there are other contingencies that I can't even imagine.

I think your imagination is pretty good, but let's be generous and lump all
the unimaginables as a 0.5 chance.

Now, what's that give us for total probability of success?

0.98 * 0.8 * 0.7 * 1.0 * 0.8 * 0.5 * 0.8 * 0.9999 * 0.9 * 0.99 * 0.9 * 0.5
= 0.07

...About a 7% chance of success.  Not great, but I'll take it over a 0%
chance any day.

>Is my analysis incorrect?  I've found that standard argument for cryonic
>suspension (Some probability of revival is better than none) is weak if
>the probability of satisfactory revival is no better than 1 in a
>BILLION, which I estimate.

Your approach is reasonable, but if you get 1 in a billion, I think you
must have some unreasonable estimates for some of the factors.  I would
agree that if it's really a 0.0000001% chance of success, then it may not
be worth doing.

>1. ... It would seem to me that "simple
>cloning" followed by a "reeducation program" in which the archived
>record of the person's memories, experience, etc., were told to the
>person upon revival is a reasonable alternative...

You need look into theories of personal identity.  The most reasonable
theories I've heard identify a person by their mental structure: memories,
personality, habits, morals, etc.  These are partly genetic, but mostly a
product of experience.  A clone will never have the same experiences as
you, so they could never BE you.  Consider twins: they may know intimate
details of each other's lives, and they are genetically identical, but they
are still different people, not the same person.  Clones are the same thing.

-- joe

|    Joseph J. Strout           Department of Neuroscience, UCSD   |
|               http://www-acs.ucsd.edu/~jstrout/  |

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