The Cryonics Strategy Space

post by Froolow · 2014-04-24T16:11:03.773Z · score: 24 (27 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 47 comments

In four paragraphs I’m going to claim, “It is highly likely reading this article will increase your chance of living forever”. I’m pretty sure you won’t disagree with me. First, however, I’d like to talk about how much I don’t like Monopoly.

I play a lot of Monopoly, because I am forced into it – against my will – by friends, family, work-related-bonding etc. I understand this is a controversial opinion, but I really, really don’t like Monopoly – there is very little scope for creative play. In fact there is so little scope for create play I spotted that I could win at Monopoly, in a probabilistic sense, by going online and looking up the optimal allocation of houses to properties and valuation of houses in the ‘bargaining’ mid-game. For a while, the fact that nobody but me played ‘perfect’ Monopoly meant I won nearly every game, and I felt much better about playing because games tended to conclude more quickly when one player was a soulless, utility-hungry robot – it left me more time to concentrate on the stuff I actually enjoyed, which was socialising.

But Monopoly, despite being an almost completely deterministic dice-rolling game, hides unexpected complexity; a salutary lesson for an aspiring rationalist. Winning the game was completely secondary to my actual aim, which was forcing the game to take as little time as possible. I realised a few months ago that it didn’t matter who won, as long as somebody won quickly, and it was very unlikely the strategy optimised for one player was the same as the strategy optimised for all of them. As a consequence, I reran the computer simulations I built and developed an optimal ‘turn reducing’ strategy (it won’t surprise you to know that the basic rule is ‘play with as much variance as you possibly can’; having one maverick player lowers the average number of turns to the first bankruptcy, and bankruptcy is gamebreaking in Monopoly).

I agree that I could lower the number of turns even more by simply flipping over the board and storming out when someone suggests I play, but let’s assume I am also trying to balance a nebulously-defined but nonetheless real value of ‘not losing all my friends’, which is satisfied when I play a risky-but-exciting strategy and not satisfied when I constantly demand to play games I find fun. The point is, I had what Kuhn calls a ‘paradigm shift’ – once I realised that my goal when playing Monopoly was not to win as quickly as possible, but to ensure anyone wins as quickly as possible I was able to greatly, greatly increase my utility with no troublesome side-effects.

I’m relating this story to you because noticing my aims and strategy weren’t perfectly aligned improved my experience of Monopoly without doing anything difficult like hacking my motivation, and I’m sure you have similar stories of paradigm shifts improving your experience of a certain event (I hear people talk about the day they discovered coding was fun once they learned the rules, or maths was awesome once they got past the spadework. That has yet to happen to me, but my experience at thrashing my friends at a children’s board games means I can totally relate). What’s striking with these paradigm shifts is how obvious the conclusion seems in retrospect, and how opaque it seemed before the lightbulb moment. With that in mind, let me make a claim you might find concerning; “The aims and strategy of people who want to live forever are highly likely to be out of alignment”. In particular, from what I read on LW and other pro-cryo communities, the strategy-space explored is vastly smaller than the strategy-space of all possible cryonics strategies. Indeed, the strategy space explored by people who want to live forever is – in some ways – smaller than that explored by me while trying to get out of playing tedious boardgames. I’m going to talk about that strategy space a little in this article, mostly with the aim of triggering a ‘lightbulb moment’ – if there are any to be had – in readers a lot more committed to cryonics than me. To draw an obvious conclusion, if there are such lightbulb moments to be had, it is highly likely reading this article will increase your chance of living forever by increasing the size of the cryonics strategy space you consider.

That the strategy space explored is small is pretty hard to disagree with; there is an option to freeze or not-freeze in the first place, go with Alcor or The Cryonics Institute (or possibly KryoRuss), go for your full body or just your head and – maybe – whether to hang on for plastination or begin investing in cryonics insurance now. As far as I can tell, more ‘fringe’ options are not discussed with very much regularity. A search of the LW archives turned up this thread which was along similar lines, but didn’t trigger anything like the discussion I thought it would; this surprises me – when the ‘prize’ for picking a marginal improvement in your cryonics strategy that doubles your chance of revivification is that you double your chance of living forever, I’m highly surprised the cryonics strategy space is not exhaustively searched at this point, certainly amongst people who turn rationality into an art form.

For example, there are at least three ways I can think of to raise your chance of being successfully frozen:

·         (Sensible) Redundancy cryonics: Make redundant copies of the information you intend to preserve. For example, MRI scans of your brain and detailed notes on your reactions to certain stimuli. In the event that current technology almost-but-not-quite preserves information in the brain, your notes and images might help future scientists reconstruct your personality. You might even go further and send hippocampal slices to multiple cryonics facilities, gambling on the fact that the increased probability of at least one facility’s survival outweighs the lower probability of revivification from a single hippocampal slice.

·         (Sensible) Diversified cryonics: In addition to cryonics, employ some other strategy(s) which might result in you living forever but which are as completely uncorrelated with the success or failure of cryonics as you can manage given that ‘the complete destruction of the earth on a molecular level by a malevolent alien race’ correlates with many bad outcomes and few good ones. I actually have a list of about ten of these, which I will happily make available on request (i.e. I’ll write another discussion post about them if people are interested) but I don’t want the whole discussion of this post to be about this one single issue, which it was when I tried the content of the post out on my friend. This is about the cryonics strategy-space only, not the living-forever strategy space, which is much bigger.

·         (Inadvisable) Suicide cryonics: Calculate the point at which your belief in the utility of cryonics outweighs the expected utility of the rest of your life (this will likely come a few seconds before the average age of death in your demographic). Kill yourself in the most cryonics-friendly way you can imagine, which I suspect will involve injecting yourself with toxic cryoprotectants on top of a platform suspended over a large vat of liquid nitrogen so that when you collapse, you collapse into the nitrogen and freeze yourself (which should limit the amount of time the dead brain is at body-temperature). If you are not concerned about your body, you should also try to decapitate yourself as you fall to raise the surface area to volume ratio of the object you are trying to freeze.

Here are three ways that raise your chance of successfully remaining frozen:

·         (Sensible) Positive cryonics: Lobby for laws that ensure the government protects your body. Either lobby for these laws directly (I talked about a ‘right to not-death’ in my last post on this subject) or promise to report to future!USA’s equivalent of the Department of Defence to see if they can weaponise any microbes on you after you’re unfrozen. Remember that we’re talking in terms of expected utility here; the chance that such lobbying is effective is minute, but it might be an effective way to spend your twilight years if you would otherwise be unproductive.

·         (Sensible, but worryingly immoral) Negative cryonics: Sabotage as many cryonics labs as possible before going under, or lobby for laws that make it illegal to freeze yourself which only come into force after you die. This raises the chances that you are the James Bedford of modern cryonics and society has a particular interest in keeping your body safe. Note that though sabotaging an entire lab is difficult and illegal, trashing the field of cryonics itself is pretty easy and socially high-status because people already think it’s pretty weird – you’d predict that at least some detractors of cryonics are actually extremely pro-cryonics and trying to raise their chances of being kept frozen as a cultural curiosity rather than as only one of millions of corpsicles.

·         (Sensible if your name is Lex Luthor, otherwise implausible) Ninja cryonics: Build a cryonics pod yourself, with enough liquid nitrogen to keep you frozen for several thousand years, known only to the highly trusted individual who transfers your cryo-preserved body from Alcor to this location (if you could somehow get yourself into an unprotected far-earth orbit after freezing this would be perfect). Hope that your pod is discovered by friendly future-humans before you run out of coolant. This is insurance against the possibility that society destroys all cryonics labs somehow and then later regrets it (although, now I think about it, someone following this strategy certainly wouldn’t tell anyone about it on a public forum…)

Here are three ways that raise your chance of successfully being revived:

·         (Sensible if legal) Compound-interest cryonics: Devote a small chunk of your resources towards a fund which you expect to grow faster than the rate of inflation, with exponential growth (the simplest example would be a bank account with a variable rate that pays epsilon percent higher than the rate of inflation in perpetuity). Sign a contract saying the person(s) who revive you receive the entire pot. Since after a few thousand years the pot will nominally contain almost all the money in the world this strategy will eventually incentivise almost the entire world to dedicate itself to seeking your revival. Although this strategy will not work if postscarcity happens before unfreezing, it collapses into the conventional cryonics problem and therefore costs you no more than the opportunity cost of spending the capital in the fund before you die. (Although apparently this is illegal)

·         (Sensible) Cultural-value cryonics: Freeze yourself with something which is relatively cheap now, but you predict might be worth a lot of money in the future. I suspect that – for example – rare earth metals or gold might be a decent guess at something that will increase in value whatever society does, but the real treasure trove will be things like first-editions of books you expect might become classics in the future, original paintings by artists who might become very trendy in the 25th Century or photographs of an important historic event which will become disputed or lionised in the future (my best bet would be anything involving the relationship between China and America if we’re talking a few centuries, and pre-technology parts of Africa if we’re talking millennia). It’s hard to believe even a post-singularity society won’t have some social signalling remaining, so you’ve got a respectable chance of finding a buyer for these artefacts. These fantastically valuable artefacts will be used to pay your way in a society where – thanks to the Flynn effect – you will have an IQ which breaks the curve at the ‘dangerously stupid’ end and you might not be able to survive otherwise. Be careful nobody knows you’re doing this, otherwise your cryopod will be raided like an Egyptian tomb! Even disregarding this financial advice, it might be a good idea to ensure you freeze yourself with e.g. a beloved pet, or the complete works of Shakespeare. This ensures that even if future society is so totally different to what you were expecting you will still have some information-age artefacts to protect you from culture-shock.

·         (Inadvisable and high-risk) Game-theory cryonics: Set up an alarm on your cryonics pod that unthaws you after five hundred years. This is insurance against the possibility that society is able to unfreeze you, but chooses not to, since no society would just let you die (you hope). You could go more supervillain-y than this by planting a deadly bomb somewhere, timed to go off in five hundred years unless you enter a 128-digit disarming key. This should incentivise society to develop revivification processes as a matter of urgency. Bear in mind if it is easier for future society to develop extremely strong counter-cryptography or radiation shielding your plan may backfire as research that would have been undertaken in cryopreservation is redeployed to stop your diabolical scheme.

I think most of these strategies have never been written about before, and of those that have been written about they have all been throwaway thought experiments on LW. Given that the strategy space of cryonics strategies is much bigger than cryonics advocates appear to instinctively gravitate around, I conclude that it is very unlikely there has been a serious effort to optimise the cryonics process beyond the scientific advances made by Alcor (and hence it is very unlikely we have all hit upon the optimal strategy by chance). This is especially true because the optimal strategy in some cases depends on the probability that the future resembles certain kinds of predictions, and I know people disagree over those predictions on LW. For example, the ratio of culturally-valuable artefacts to sanity-preserving artefacts you should take with you probably depends on the relative likelihood you assign that a post-scarcity or post-singularity world will be the one to revive you. I’m not in a very good position to make that particular judgement myself, but I am in a good position to say that there is a very real opportunity cost to considering a narrow strategy space when considering life-extending strategies, just as there is an opportunity cost when considering over-narrow Monopoly strategies. In the first case, the impact of your decision might result in you throwing your life away. In the second, it only feels like it does.

47 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Squark · 2014-04-25T20:21:05.971Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

My personal opinion: I would rather avoid discussion of grossly unethical proposals, however unrealistic they are, in any form except examples for grossly unethical proposals (which is not exactly the form used in this post).

comment by seez · 2014-04-26T17:59:26.974Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This thread should be getting more comments and upvotes. It seems vastly more original, useful, and central to the core mission of LW than many recent discussion posts that have gotten more attention, including my own. What's up with that?

comment by Izeinwinter · 2014-04-25T13:22:39.035Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Consider - the most important factor after technical feasibility in whether you get revived is if future society thinks this is the right thing to do. For that reason, absolutely everything which might negatively affect social opinion of the frozen should be avoided. I.. am not even sure making yourself a particularly appealing target for revival is clever. If people bring you back first because you were famous you might get to alpha-test that procedure. If you get brought back because you were infamous.. Courses of action which might result in you waking up in a virtual "reeducation and rehabilitation" camp are to be avoided. And that is one of the more lenient options. Once your brain is being fed into a nano-scale analyzer, you better hope the people operating that machinery mean you well. They probably will - the world generally isn't getting more hostile, but some of the above ideas would make even very honest and idealistic authorities just reprogram you.

comment by Froolow · 2014-04-25T14:06:46.029Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure I completely agree with you, but I'd argue that is exactly the sort of discussion which I am surprised is not already happening. Consider:

  • I should not make myself an appealing target for resurrection, because I am likely to receive the procedure in the most 'pre-alpha' form

versus

  • I should make myself the most appealing target for ressurection possible; history shows that if a procedure is expensive or difficult (like going to the moon) it is usually only done infrequently until technology catches up with ambition. The longer I am frozen, the more chance something happens to catastrophically prevent my resurrection, so I desire to be revived in the first wave.

Alternatively

  • Future society is likely to punish (or refuse to revive) those who were evil in this life, so I should only adopt strategies which reflect well on me

versus

  • Future society is likely to reprogramme people who were evil in this life before reviving them, so I should maximise my chance of making it to future society by any means necessary; it won't affect my chances of revivification because almost every current human will need reprogramming before revival.

While it happens my probability distribution over what future society looks like is a lot closer to yours than what you might infer from the main body of the post, your belief about future society is hugely important in determining your optimal freezing strategy. This is why I say I am surprised there is not more discussion already happening; cryonics correlates well with people who have carefully considered the question of what future society is likely to look like, but it appears many people have not then made a link between the two sets of beliefs.

comment by Nornagest · 2014-04-25T16:45:46.648Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Short of being responsible for a major genocide or something, I think it's staggeringly unlikely that anything you do in your day-to-day life will affect your chances of getting unfrozen, should you choose to follow the cryonics route.

Consider a silly but analogous situation: while laying the foundation for a new monument in Atlanta, Georgia, builders break into an underground vault containing the bodies of a team of Egyptologists from the early 1800s, placed into suspended animation by an irate mummy's curse. Understanding of Middle Egyptian has gotten better since they were entombed, though, and contemporary interpretations of artifacts buried with them suggest that moderately expensive sacrifices on their behalf to Aten, an aspect of the sun god, will break their curses.

Now, as it happens, some members of the team were slave-owners at the time of their entombment -- a serious violation of contemporary ethics, to say the least! Given that they all came from the same cultural context and shared roughly the same mores, though, I view it as implausible that this would substantially affect their chances of getting uncursed. And that's a pretty extreme example. If one of the porters had a background as a thief, I doubt anyone would even consider it as a factor.

comment by Vulture · 2014-04-29T19:42:25.442Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But as a side note, if there was a mystical amulet in the tomb which could remove all sympathies for slavery from a person's mind - don't you think we would use it on them?

comment by Nornagest · 2014-04-29T20:25:58.752Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know which way the decision would fall, but I definitely don't think the answer would be an immediate and unambiguous "yes"; effective, involuntary modification of people's ethics isn't something our culture has ever had to deal with in reality, and when it's come up in fiction (e.g. Nineteen Eighty-Four) it's usually been treated negatively. We're comfortable with encouraging endogenous ethical change by way of perspective or incentives (carrot and stick both), but that's not quite the same thing.

You could make a consequential case for it, of course.

comment by Vulture · 2014-04-30T01:12:26.607Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You could make a consequential case for it, of course

Certainly true, and disturbing, especially for those of us who feel that consequentialism is in some way "correct". Since far-future people are virtually guaranteed to have radically different values than us, and likely would have the ability to directly modify our (to them frighteningly evil) values, wouldn't we (per murder-Gandhi) want to spread a deontological system that forbids tampering with other people's values, even if we feel that in general consequentialism based on our current society's values is more morally beneficial? That is, would we prefer for some small spark of our moral system to survive into the distant future, at the expense of it being lost in the here and now?

comment by Lumifer · 2014-04-29T20:41:40.107Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

effective, involuntary modification of people's ethics isn't something our culture has ever had to deal with in reality

Don't forced religious conversions (especially mass ones) qualify?

comment by Nornagest · 2014-04-29T20:50:12.316Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm. Interesting question, but I'd say no; a forced conversion can't affect a person's actual convictions, only their ritual performance and other aspects of outward behavior. That might over time lead to changes in convictions, but that would be more analogous to our slave-owners upthread being exposed to modern society and learning in good after-school special form that slavery is bad, mmkay?

comment by Eneasz · 2014-04-28T21:29:08.275Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Ever since my brother joined the Military I've thought that could be a potentially good way to push cryonics. The Military is already well-known for forcing technological change, but it's less known that the Military's effort to reduce loss of fighting men to Syphilis (as well as other STIs) was a major contributor to the social acceptance of condoms, which had previously been shunned. The social changes resulting from that campaign are often cited as a precursor to the sexual revolution.

People don't seem to care that much when an old person dies of natural causes, which is the case for most cryo. A young, attractive corpse gathers enough sympathy and attention to get crowd-sourced funding. The Military produces a much higher-than-average number of young, tragic deaths. A fair percentage of them leave the brain intact. It shouldn't be that hard of a case to make that since the Military is the reason that these young people are losing their lives, it has a duty to give them the best chance at getting their lives back.

Difficulty of engineering a moderately-sided canister that can be fitted over the head of a dead soldier and automatically sever and preserve it (obviously opt-in only)? Probably well within DARPA resources. A decade of this being a standard option for military personnel would do wonders to ease social acceptability, no? A family that has a son/brother in cryo now has emotional motivation to consider that it just might, maybe, work some day in the future.

Also -

I actually have a list of about ten of these, which I will happily make available on request (i.e. I’ll write another discussion post about them if people are interested)

I am interested, please consider this +1 requests. :)

comment by V_V · 2014-04-25T09:06:51.543Z · score: 3 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Do people buy cryonics because they really expect to be revived or because it is a way to signal a set of beliefs, values and allegiance to a specific community, akin to a religious burial ritual?
My impression is that for most cryonicists, at least the ones on LessWrong, the latter motivation is dominant. This is consistent with current cryonics practices not being optimized to maximize revival chances.

comment by Froolow · 2014-04-25T13:47:06.521Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I agree the fact that current cryonics practice is not optimised for revival is extremely strong Baysian evidence (for me at least) that most cryonicists on these forums are considerably more likely to be signalling than rationally trying to live forever. I would add into that the well known problem of 'cryo-crastinating', which is hard to explain if pro-cryo individuals are highly rational life-year maximisers, but extremely easy to explain if people are willing to send a 'pro-cryo' signal when it is free, but not when it is expensive.

On the other hand, I am convinced at least some cryonics advocates will find a discussion on cryonics strategy genuinely useful and important, and since I was reading about cryonics anyway I thought I would fill what I considered to be a gap in the debate landscape.

comment by V_V · 2014-04-25T18:39:53.432Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

On the other hand, I am convinced at least some cryonics advocates will find a discussion on cryonics strategy genuinely useful and important, and since I was reading about cryonics anyway I thought I would fill what I considered to be a gap in the debate landscape.

Ok. My comment wasn't intended as a criticism to your post, it was just my two cents on cryonics.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-04-25T13:54:57.441Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Current cryonics organizations may not be optimized in a Bayesian sense; but I don't have much of a way to nudge my cryonics organization of choice into more rational behaviour, let alone any other cryo groups. One possibility is that cryo groups are dominated by traditional, non-Bayesian rationalists, who really are trying to live forever, but just aren't applying the familiar-to-us techniques from the Sequences to accomplish that goal. :)

comment by V_V · 2014-04-25T18:43:56.291Z · score: 3 (13 votes) · LW · GW

"Bayesian rationalists", "the Sequences"..., that is the kind of signalling I was talking about.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-04-25T19:58:42.421Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not as smart as I wish I were; I just couldn't think of a better way to refer to that general area of idea-space, especially given that the local audience consists primarily of LW-readers who likely already know the terms. If choosing a vocabulary for a target audience counts as 'signalling', is there any communication that /doesn't/?

Anyway, I'm trying to live forced or die trying; and if a truck hits me tomorrow, there's not much more I can do to prepare other than have already signed up for cryo. Nudging my chosen cryo group to improve my odds is more of a long-term thing, and I'm just getting started. Heck, I don't even qualify to be elected to the board until I've been a member for another year or two.

comment by V_V · 2014-04-26T19:34:18.343Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not as smart as I wish I were; I just couldn't think of a better way to refer to that general area of idea-space, especially given that the local audience consists primarily of LW-readers who likely already know the terms.

Well, I'm also not as smart as I wish I were, and I don't know what you mean by "Bayesian rationalist", or "optimized in a Bayesian sense", but they do look like combinations of local buzz words. If you were tying to use them to make an argument, then I didn't get it.

if a truck hits me tomorrow, there's not much more I can do to prepare other than have already signed up for cryo.

If a truck hits you tomorrow and you die, then you will most likely suffer massive brain damage before any cryopreservation procedure can be attempted, hence I wouldn't worry about it if I were you.

comment by seez · 2014-04-24T21:50:26.820Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I understand that this wasn't the focus of the post, but wouldn't the best Monopoly strategy be to keep always winning until no one ever wants to play Monopoly with you again? Because you goal isn't to end this game without losing friends, it's to minimize total Monopoly-playing time without losing friends/

comment by Froolow · 2014-04-25T13:38:53.763Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Unfortunately my friends would probably see winning too often as a good reason to collude against me. Although collusion would lower the average length of a game, it would probably raise the chance any individual friend wanted to play with me (because they would be winning more often, on average). Although I agree with you that that's a strategy I hadn't considered, which is quite an oversight given the content of the post!

Khoth has correctly identified that surely the best strategy is to convince my friends to play a similar but superior game, although this isn't always possible. For example with the horse-traders I try to play Catan and with the roll-and-movers I play Pirates. Unfortunately if there are too many of both groups then the only thing they can compromise on is Monopoly, and I don't have the persuasive skills to overcome the inertia.

However the fact there are a whole bunch of superior games to Monopoly sort of breaks the analogy I was driving at so I left it out of the main body of the post.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-04-25T09:28:49.737Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

An even better strategy might be to bring along a better game and convince people to try it.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-04-24T16:49:34.330Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think most of these strategies have never been written about before,

I've brought up what you call 'cultural-value cryonics' on the main cryo mailing list, in the form of a proposal for 'cryonics libraries'. Due to copyright laws in the relevant jurisdictions, and the limited budget of cryonics organizations for non-core-mission items, I'm currently pursuing this as an occasional, part-time personal project.

comment by Ander · 2014-05-01T18:30:36.898Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Who still plays monopoly? Teach everyone some good modern board games and then you wont have to devise strategies for ending a monopoly game in as few turns as possible!

comment by diegocaleiro · 2014-05-01T09:16:44.467Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This article should be in my suggested: http://lesswrong.com/lw/gs7/lets_make_a_rational_immortalist_sequence/ If people actually decided to write some other posts.

comment by christopherj · 2014-04-29T03:59:16.336Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

(Sensible if legal) Compound-interest cryonics: Devote a small chunk of your resources towards a fund which you expect to grow faster than the rate of inflation, with exponential growth (the simplest example would be a bank account with a variable rate that pays epsilon percent higher than the rate of inflation in perpetuity). Sign a contract saying the person(s) who revive you receive the entire pot. Since after a few thousand years the pot will nominally contain almost all the money in the world this strategy will eventually incentivise almost the entire world to dedicate itself to seeking your revival. Although this strategy will not work if postscarcity happens before unfreezing, it collapses into the conventional cryonics problem and therefore costs you no more than the opportunity cost of spending the capital in the fund before you die. (Although apparently this is illegal)

(from the link)

The rule is often stated as follows: “No interest is good unless it must vest, if at all, not later than twenty-one years after the death of some life in being at the creation of the interest." For the purposes of the rule, a life is "in being" at conception.

It seems a workaround would be to keep around a frozen embryo. Since frozen embryos are viable with current technology, they probably have to qualify as not dead. You could probably also do it via donating the money to an "independent" organization, but that's not as cool as using cryonics as a workaround to aid your cryonics.

The bigger problem is that you'll have trouble investing the money at a rate higher than inflation (and keep in mind that in the US the rate of inflation is much higher than the official number)

comment by jkaufman · 2014-04-29T18:08:14.360Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It seems a workaround would be to keep around a frozen embryo. Since frozen embryos are viable with current technology, they probably have to qualify as not dead.

It looks like reading "Gametes, Embryos and the Life in Being: The Impact of Reproductive Technology on the Rule Against Perpetuities" would be helpful, but I can't find a non-paywalled version.

Not all states still have the standard Rule Against Perpetuities, so it would be good to check the state you're in.

Dad Was Born A Thousand Years Ago? has an interesting discussion of what should happen to a bequest "to all my children" given that this is no longer a class closed upon death. (And generally classes have to be logically guaranteed to be closed to be valid for wills.)

comment by jkaufman · 2014-04-29T19:23:29.823Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But I can't find a non-paywalled version

Ok, found it. The article considers both the possibility that an embryo counts as a "life in being" and that it does not, so it's not legally settled. They basically end up saying that for legal consistency you can hold the embryo to count or not, and both give bad policy outcomes. So they propose dropping the whole "21 years after the death..." and just using a fixed length of time. They also argue that this fixed length shouldn't be too long, because the point of the rule is to limit the control of previous generations over the use of current resources.

comment by jkaufman · 2014-04-29T18:52:22.892Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

More looking into the legal status of frozen embryos turns up:

We conclude that preembryos are not, strictly speaking, either "persons" or "property," but occupy an interim category that entitles them to special respect because of their potential for human life. -- Davis v. Davis, 842 SW 2d 588 - Tenn: Supreme Court 1992

I wonder if the same argument would apply to preserved adults, if the technology advanced from the current state of "almost certainly information theoretically dead" to one with "potential for human life"?

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-04-26T12:50:01.562Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Every renegade strategy like the negative cryonics one have to be viewed as a risk by those betting on the standard approach.

This renews the question of what to do to increase the chance of cryo-survival. And that prompted the idea what to learn from the egypt. Aftre all they also preserved their body. Their behavior is consistent with a hope of revival (much) later. Now their mummification didn't work, but can't be sure of our cryo-mummification either. But the pharaos and their staff surely considered a lot of means to protect their bodies. And were comparable successful (on non-biology points).

See this post which also draw this analogy: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/dsp.cgi?msg=12799

Google for cryo+egyp gets a few results:

comment by CronoDAS · 2014-04-25T21:55:59.967Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

New Jersey and a few other states have passed laws eliminating the rule against perpetuities. Of course, laws that are changed can always be changed back...

comment by seez · 2014-04-25T07:41:27.636Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm interested in suicide cryonics (not personally, just conceptually). Why do you say that's inadvisable? Would you recommend it for someone who had e.g. a deadly illness that would kill them in the next few weeks?

comment by brazil84 · 2014-04-26T21:03:36.115Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm interested in suicide cryonics (not personally, just conceptually).

Putting aside the question of one's competence to decide, engaging in suicide cryonics would surely tempt the authorities to insist on thawing and autopsying you.

comment by Froolow · 2014-04-25T13:56:57.455Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Personally, it seems like a pretty rational decision to me (excluding autopsy problems, which I talk about somewhere else). The reason I advise against it is because I don't believe anyone could possibly know their utility function - and life expectancy - well enough to make a sensible decision about when the right time was to begin the process. This is true even if you exclude the fact that there are good reasons to think that many people do not approach death rationally, and if you consider that an ostentatious decapitation would likely be distressing for those left behind (insofar as you care about the utility of people after your death).

But in a purely hypothetical case - where there was a bomb in my heart that was going to go off in ten seconds and I happened to be standing next to a big vat of cryopreservant - I would highly recommend freezing yourself before dying naturally.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-04-26T01:32:16.170Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think it would be possible to know the optimal moment to begin the process, but I think there are a number of diseases where it would be possible to choose a pretty good moment to begin.

comment by seez · 2014-04-26T03:09:31.667Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I agree... I don't really see why anyone would have problems with their utility functions if they e.g. knew they were going into liver and kidney failure and going to die in the next 24-72 hours.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-04-26T09:42:07.574Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not just extreme cases like that, but if you're pretty sure you've got a sort of dementia which is a steady downhill slide.

comment by James_Miller · 2014-04-24T23:07:27.431Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Negative cryonics: Sabotage as many cryonics labs as possible before going under, or lobby for laws that make it illegal to freeze yourself which only come into force after you die.

A father gets frozen but because of you his son doesn't. The father gets revived before you do and seeks revenge.

comment by hylleddin · 2014-05-01T04:27:35.179Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I actually have a list of about ten of these, which I will happily make available on request (i.e. I’ll write another discussion post about them if people are interested) but I don’t want the whole discussion of this post to be about this one single issue, which it was when I tried the content of the post out on my friend. This is about the cryonics strategy-space only, not the living-forever strategy space, which is much bigger

I would like that, I am far more interested in the general live forever space.

comment by brazil84 · 2014-04-26T21:24:32.281Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What if you were told that next week you were going to play Board Game X which has never been played before, even by the game designers. You are told some of the rules but not all of them. You don't know the chances of winning or if winning is even possible.

In that case, advance strategizing or research doesn't seem like it would be very helpful, at least in terms of refining your basic strategy.

It seems to me that cryonics is more like Board Game X than Monopoly. I realize that you are not necessarily arguing that cryonics is analogous to Monopoly, but I think the basic point stands.

I would argue that not enough is known about life extension and cryonics to develop a highly refined strategy. Eat your vegetables; exercise regularly; don't smoke; avoid dangerous people and activities; buy life insurance so you can afford cryonics.

comment by Froolow · 2014-04-30T15:16:32.102Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

While on the one hand I completely agree with you given your starting premises, I don't necessarily think we're in quite the zero information situation you describe. For example, it is pretty well accepted (even amongst people who don't think cryo will work) that simply freezing yourself without cryopreservant lowers your chance of revivification. This is a pretty important consensus since cryopreservant is highly toxic, but we extrapolate from current trends and conclude, "Curing poisoning is probably an easier task than reconstructing information destroyed by entropy, so I should adopt the 'cryopreservant' branch of strategy-space". This indicates we don't really have no information about the correct cryo strategy; though I totally accept your weaker claim that I seem to demand much MORE information than we can reasonably be expected to possess.

I think we're in a situation more like a friend ringing up and says, "We're going to play Ticket to Ride tonight; it's like Monopoly only better". We don't have enough information to decide whether we want to be the top hat or the battleship (which is a meaningless question anyway since the answer is always 'top hat'), but we might have enough information to begin to say, "On my first turn I will study the layout of the board carefully (rather than act quickly)" and "I will attempt to remain on good terms with the other players insofar as they can hurt me and I cannot overwhelmingly hurt them" or even "It is unlikely this game will involve serious roleplay. I will not put on my robe and wizard hat". None of these are enough to guarentee a win, but neither are they trivial realisations; I think it is reasonable to believe probability theory, human nature and my own utility function will not change dramatically in the time it takes me to be revivified, so basing strategy on these characteristics seems worthwhile.

comment by brazil84 · 2014-04-30T17:27:05.730Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't necessarily think we're in quite the zero information situation you describe.

I didn't describe a zero information situation. Note that I said "you are told some of the rules but not all of them."

I think we're in a situation more like a friend ringing up and says, "We're going to play Ticket to Ride tonight; it's like Monopoly only better".

How is this different from knowing some of the rules but not all of them?

Curing poisoning is probably an easier task than reconstructing information destroyed by entropy, so I should adopt the 'cryopreservant' branch of strategy-space".

I would agree that this is probably a good strategy but I would not categorize it as "highly refined."

comment by CronoDAS · 2014-04-25T21:40:19.942Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Somewhat off-topic: Whenever I play Monopoly with family members, nobody else ever initiates trades, and nobody else ever accepts any trade that isn't grossly in their favor. Any strategy advice for dealing with this situation?

comment by Froolow · 2014-04-26T10:05:07.667Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You could try signalling that unless they trade with you you'll put them at a disadvantage. Consider - "Player 1, both you and Player 2 want this property. This property for one of your properties is a fair swap that benefits both of us, but if you turn me down I'll trade it to Player 2 for their best offer, which benefits Player 2 a lot and me only a little. Player 2, if you don't give me even the small amount I ask for, I'll randomly give it to some other player." If you signal credibly (ie you actually do it if someone calls your bluff) then Player 1 should make the trade provided he values your property more than you knocking yourself out of the game (ie the trade really DOES have to be a fair deal - you can't just use this to up your bargaining ante).

Part of your argument could be the (truthful) observation that the losers in a trade aren't the people who made the less valuable trade, but the people who didn't trade at all - if you play at a very conservative table it might be in your interest to trade at a disadvantage and exploit the increased variance a monopoly gives you.

The major downside here is that many people don't play Monopoly to win, and strategies that optimise for winning using game theory and the like are seen as 'unsporting'. Sometimes you just need to accept that to keep your family happy you have to play Monopoly and get bored.

comment by Nornagest · 2014-04-25T21:51:52.577Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Talk to one family member ahead of time, get them to trade with you for mutual benefit, and see how long it takes the rest of your family to notice that the two of you are winning more?

comment by Lalartu · 2014-04-25T09:33:15.695Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Game-theory cryonics is the only strategy that really was not mentioned here or on cryonics-related sites.

(Inadvisable) Suicide cryonics

I think there is a point in Alcors FAQ explaining why this would not work at all.

(Sensible if legal) Compound-interest cryonics: Since after a few thousand years the pot will nominally contain almost all the money in the world this strategy will >eventually incentivise almost the entire world to dedicate itself to seeking your revival.

There are lot of topics about compound interest, explaining why this would not work.

comment by Froolow · 2014-04-25T13:20:29.566Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You are completely correct about Alcor's FAQ:

While some communities have enacted legislation allowing suicide with the assistance of a physician, any such case almost certainly would be followed by an autopsy which would include dissection of the brain. For these reasons, and to protect ourselves from any accusation of conflict of interest, Alcor has a strict policy against advising any member to end life prematurely.

However this identifies exactly the point I was making; a rational discussion could be had about the risk of autopsy destroying the brain versus the benefit of being able to very tightly control your freezing. To expand on this; autopsy in the case of suicide is mandatory in the US to determine cause of death. I strongly suspect that if the average coroner comes across a headless frozen body full of toxic cryoprotectant they can determine the cause of death without destroying the brain, and if they can determine the cause of death witout destroying the brain they might choose to respect the implicit wishes of the deceased and explicit wishes of surviving relatives not to cut into the brain tissue. By contrast, freezing the brain 'in use' might increase the chance of survival. If an ostentatious suicide raises your chance of an autopsy by less than it raises your chances of revivification, it is a plausible strategy.

I'd add that Alcor has a very, very strong reason to advise members against suicide which members themselves do not have; Alcor can get sued for that sort of behaviour.

With respect to your other point - that these strategies are not novel - I can only agree that I would be surprised if I were the only person to have thought of them, but I did not come across any serious discussion of them even after some fairly comitted googling. If somebody looking for discussion of these strategies can't find them, the odds of someone interested in cryonics but paradigm-bound to ignore the possibility of other strategies will have even more difficulty; it is for those people this article is written.

comment by listic · 2014-04-26T21:45:11.731Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

While some communities have enacted legislation allowing suicide with the assistance of a physician, any such case almost certainly would be followed by an autopsy which would include dissection of the brain.

I didn't think about this. Still, I would look more into that scenario. I am not sure Alcor has properly investigated all the options here: there are many countries in the world and maybe some would allow suicide cryonics.

You do know that cryonics is not just dropping a body or a brain in liquid nitrogen, don't you? Cellular damage in that scenario would be too high; while it's not completely out of the question that future science will be able to restore someone frozen that way, cryonics tries to preserve the patient in as good condition as possible, which includes, in optimal case:

  • Connect the patient to cardiopulmonary support as soon as possible, which realistically means as soon as legal death is proclaimed. (*)
  • Slowly cool the body
  • Replace blood with cryoprotectant
  • Continue to slowly cool the body At some point the cardiopulmonary support can be disconnected.

Now, (*) is the main point that could use further optimization. As the things stand today, cryonicists are not allowed to do their thing with the body before legal death is proclaimed. They are lucky if the medical staff is supportive, relatives do not interfere and legal death is proclaimed quickly. But even in this scenario they could in principle act quicker, if they were allowed to. I think it is quite possible that Alcor did not see a reason to investigate in necessary detail the legal situation in the world regarding whether there exists such a country where one can do suicide cryonics and avoid autopsy. If they are not flexible enough, I think KrioRus just might. And if a cryonics company will open in China... who knows, maybe they will be more relaxed about euthanasia?