[Cryonics News] Australian cryonics startup: Stasis Systems Australia update

post by Maelin · 2012-06-15T05:08:09.954Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 28 comments

Potentially of interest to my fellow antipodean LessWrongers. Stasis Systems Australia is a company seeking to start a cryonics facility in Australia. Their website is pretty sparse, but they just sent out a mailing list update on how they are going, and it doesn't appear that the information therein is located in any news section of the website, so I thought I'd post it here.

 

Hello,

We at  Stasis Systems Australia Ltd are happy to report our plans to build a cryonics facility in Australia are progressing well.

You may remember contacting us or attending our online meeting last year, but here's a quick reminder of what we're doing.

We are a group of Australasian cryonicists putting together a non-for-profit organisation to build and run the first cryonic storage facility in the southern hemisphere.

We're proud to have WA-based Marta Sandberg on the board of directors as an advisor, as she has a wealth of knowledge and experience from her ongoing role as a director of the  well-established Cryonics Institute.

We are now officially incorporated as a not-for-profit company, and one investor away from the magic number of ten that will trigger the next stage of the project - selecting a piece of land and starting construction!

We have had productive discussions with the NSW Department of Health, and are developing positive relationships with the Cryonics Institute, Alcor, and KrioRus.

We think what we’re doing is worthwhile and in the long term will be of great benefit to the Australasian community.  If you’d like to get involved either as an investor or a volunteer, that would be fantastic.  We’d love help with articles for the website, search engine optimisation, web graphics, or any other skill you have that we might need.

We would especially appreciate you passing this update on to anyone you know who might be interested.

 

Best regards,

The Stasis Systems Australia team

www.StasisSystemsAustralia.com

 

Follow @StaSysAus on Twitter

Like StaSysAus on Facebook

28 comments

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comment by SSA · 2012-06-17T13:05:33.329Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mark Milton and I'm one of the directors of Stasis Systems Australia. I've read the comments below with some interest as they are many of the same considerations we have had over the last 2 years. I'd like to reply to some of them if I may and I'd welcome any and all discussion on this or related topics as while we have done a lot of thinking and research there is no denying that Cryonics is still in its infancy, (relatively speaking), and input is always a good thing.

Why bother setting up in Aus? Alcor, CI and KrioRus seem to be doing an excellent job on the whole and we are setting up a facility in Australia, not because we have any concerns about their operations but purely as a response to the logistical difficulties of transport overseas either as a terminally ill patient or as a deceased person. As you might imagine, timing transport close to death is problematical at best. You need to be sure that you are fit for travel, and will be allowed to travel, and at the same time you need to ensure that you have the funding for a potentially protracted stay overseas if you endure for months or more. If you deanimate in Australia there are many questions about the proper state of storage. If vitrification is organised here in Australia there are issues of "cracking" during transport. If transported packed in ice, there are still problems with thawing enroute compounded by customs/handling delays and possibly quarantine if the zeigler transport container should express water through either leaking or condensation.

Importance of response vs storage. There is no argument that a timely and quality response upon deanimation is critical for a good suspension. However I and my colleagues are inclined to be a little more ambitious than just aiming for a quick cool-down. Part of this is the reasons mentioned above and, part is that maintaining standby equipment, volunteers, procedures and training is a significant task in itself and difficult to do if not part of a larger organisation iwth broader goals. For example, my research indicates that only approximately 6 Australians have gone to the US for suspension in the last 10 years. While this is enough to sustain a storage facility from an economic viewpoint it's hard to build an organisation that would go into action for a few days at a time, 6 times in 10 years. In my opinion such an organisation would atrophy in it's skills and competency over the years. Thirdly, the existence of a facility in Australia would make it easier to reach out to society and stimulate its interest in cryonics. The more people who are involved, the better chance it has of succeeding. In case it's not clear, we would, of course, be aiming to provide quality response service to people who deanimate.

As a side note, I have been approached by at least one person who has indicated they would be interested in seeing if they could start a separate priority medical emergency response team for cryonics clients. While they are yet to pursue such a venture I have not only given them my blessing but have committed to actively supporting such a venture.

Doing prep and sending "corpsicles" to somewhere else We have approached both CI and Alcor about preping clients to send to their organisations as well as providing response services for their clients who might deanimate in Australia. Although we have not got to the stage of signing any agreements there seems to be a collaborative spirit to this and similar suggestions. We are certainly in favor of making this option available. KrioRus is also a possibility although it seems, statistically, less likely to come up as an issue at this time.

Would it actually be a good idea to consolidate all cryonics facilities to a single place? There is no doubt that economies of scale are achieved by consolidating plant and equipment however, in my opinion, Cryonics is a slightly different beast in that the main objective of Cryonics is not financial return but rather long-term sustainability. To this end, I believe that having a diversity of organisations is actually a positive. Especially at this point in the history of Cryonic development. In the worst case scenario, patients could be shipped from one facility to another in the event of catastrophic events. If CI should find itself the result of a prolonged hate campaign, Alcor under threat of political sanction, KrioRuss impacted by threat of war in Russia, or SSA under siege by... i don't know, mutant kangaroos?, then it's good to know there are alternatives for our patients. Of course these and other "catastrophic" examples may seem far fetched but remember we are planning for sustainability for potentially hundreds of years and a great many things could and will happen in those sort of time frames.

Okay, that's the longest comment I've ever written in a forum and I hope I didn't bore too many of you. Let us know if there are questions, concerns or comments. and feel free to get in touch with us if you are interested. We are indeed interested in, not just investors or clients, but also volunteers or people who just want to know more. Thank you Maelin for this post.

Replies from: wedrifid
comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-17T13:48:16.949Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As an Australian who only got part way through the hassle of getting signed up with a US cryonics option I am following this topic with interest.

Something which makes me nervous about relying on a less established institution is (obviously) that all else being equal it is more likely to fail than a more established institution. As a corpsicle it is rather difficult to make new arrangements if one's cryonics facility goes under. What would be perfect is to be able to purchase insurance such that if SSA failed financially or administratively your frozen remains are guaranteed to be sent and preserved at an alternative facility (Alcor or CI, etc.) Is that sort of thing likely to be possible?

Replies from: SSA
comment by SSA · 2012-06-17T23:48:09.174Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The short answer is... Such a thing is likely to be possible.

When we were developing the business plan for SSA we tried to look at the history of Cryonics, particularly in relation to its failures, in order to try and avoid any obvious mistakes. This is one of the reasons we decided to look for 10 investors for the project. Our reasoning is that if we can find 10 people willing to put up the money for their own suspension at the very beginning, this strongly indicates a level of interest to make the facility viable in the long term, as opposed to 1 or 2 individuals putting up all the money.

We have incorporated insurance cover, (for transferring suspended clients overseas), for these initial investors but as we get more people on board the risk of failure reduces significantly.

The idea of transport insurance cover for clients after the investor stage isn't something we've seriously considered although we have looked at contingency plans along the lines of sale of assets to cover transport of clients costs in the event of an operational shut down. Our financial modelling again suggests that although the cost of such a transfer increases as more clients are suspended, the risk of financial failure also decreases as more clients are suspended. Nonetheless, we'll consider your idea. We don't want to load clients up with hidden fees but, for people who wanted the extra reassurance, it may not hurt to provide it.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2012-06-15T14:59:46.837Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why do they want to do storage? Surely the important thing is to get a high quality standby and transport organisation in place; final cooldown and storage can be deferred to an existing provider. That's something they can start with less investment and without construction.

Replies from: Maelin, wedrifid, drethelin, None
comment by Maelin · 2012-06-16T08:34:31.613Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I personally spent some time trying to get signed up with Alcor, and eventually gave up in frustration. I understand they have also had some funding issues of late. I do not have great confidence in their ability to remain operational over the next few decades. If an organisation that looks competent and reliable could open a facility in Australia, I would feel much safer than if it were something arranged to send me off to the US.

That said, I'd be a lot happier with either option than with the current state of affairs.

Replies from: matt, ciphergoth
comment by matt · 2012-06-17T04:53:59.783Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I pushed all the way through. I'm signed up with Alcor, but feel very much as you do about how hard signup was, and how unlikely it is that Alcor will survive very long. I know only one other Australian who tried to sign up, and he also gave up in frustration.

(I've tried to volunteer my time and efforts to Alcor, and they can't organise enough to accept my help.)

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2012-06-16T11:11:28.398Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why would you expect a new organisation to be better than Alcor, on average?

Replies from: ShardPhoenix
comment by ShardPhoenix · 2012-06-17T02:08:40.635Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You might expect that if Alcor is below the average quality of a random new organization.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-16T00:46:35.966Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why do they want to do storage? Surely the important thing is to get a high quality standby and transport organisation in place; final cooldown and storage can be deferred to an existing provider. That's something they can start with less investment and without construction.

That was my thought. I would be much more comfortable if they did the prep and sent the corpsicles off to somewhere more established.

Replies from: Vladimir_Nesov
comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2012-06-16T13:47:16.717Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

They might provide this service as well. AFAIK, KrioRus does.

comment by drethelin · 2012-06-16T00:40:02.587Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Would it actually be a good idea to consolidate all cryonics facilities to a single place? or even a couple early movers?

Replies from: ciphergoth
comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2012-06-16T05:07:24.026Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not necessarily, and storage might b a good thing to start considering once you've already built a high quality standby and transport organisation.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-06-15T19:35:50.987Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What? Is shipping refrigerated people across oceans actually easier than storing them?

Replies from: ciphergoth, Viliam_Bur
comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2012-06-15T21:22:05.457Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You pack a crate with dry ice. One is a one-shot job, the other is a potentially century-long commitment. One needs proper premises, the other just some space to work.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-06-19T09:18:32.268Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For example bringing frozen people to Antarctica would be costly, but you would save a lot of money for keeping them cold for centuries. In a long term...

Of course, there would be other costs, such as protecting the storage from vandalism. That could be expensive in Antarctica. But those costs would not grow in proportion to number of people stored, so after enough people are frozen, this might become cheaper.

Replies from: wedrifid, TheOtherDave, None
comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-19T10:40:04.430Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For example bringing frozen people to Antarctica would be costly, but you would save a lot of money for keeping them cold for centuries. In a long term...

I'm not sure you would. From what I recall the corpsicles need to be stored at colder than Antarctic temperatures. That means you need to have a significant energy source or steadily import liquid. It could be cheaper to just buy slightly better insulation to offset the greater temperature difference between the respective external environments.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-06-19T13:00:29.556Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would think shooting frozen people into orbit would ultimately be even cheaper, by the same logic.

Replies from: Viliam_Bur
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-06-19T15:07:37.032Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Bringing weight to orbit is expensive. In a long term, there is a risk of collision with space debris.

Replies from: TheOtherDave
comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-06-19T15:16:18.846Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Agreed that bringing mass into orbit costs something, as does protecting that mass from the dangers of space (e.g., debris). Bringing mass to Antarctica costs something, too, as does protecting that mass from the dangers of Antarctica (e.g., weather).

It may well be that orbit is more expensive than Antarctica.

But if bringing mass to Antarctica is worthwhile because the energy savings associated with the average temperature differential between Antarctica and wherever the brains were initially cryopreserved offsets the upfront costs, it may well be that the greater temperature differential between space and wherever the brains were initially cryopreserved would similarly offset the greater upfront costs.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-06-19T09:40:21.413Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

They'd have to be very motivated “vandals”, though. (More like people with an agenda than bored/frustrated people the word vandals usually suggests to me.)

Replies from: TheOtherDave
comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-06-19T13:09:59.695Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If I have N% confidence that continuing to cryopreserve a particular mass of brain tissue will ultimately cause person X to experience Y QALYs, then presumably the value V of continuing such cryopreservation to me is roughly equivalent to the value of N*Y QALYs for X. If I believe Y is very large and N is not offsettingly small, and I significantly value QALYs for X, then presumably V is larger than the value of large sums of money.

In other words, the extortion potential here is enormous. Some people are motivated by that sort of thing.

Replies from: wedrifid
comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-19T13:17:05.648Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In other words, the extortion potential here is enormous. Some people are motivated by that sort of thing.

It kind of makes me motivated to put up a sufficiently intimidating fence with a sign "Warning: Trespassers will be forcibly cryopreserved, reanimated then tortured indefinitely."

Replies from: Viliam_Bur
comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-06-19T15:10:27.298Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Would not work if the trespassers believe that cryopreservation does not work, but would like to extort money from people who believe that cryopreservation works.

(As an analogy, if an atheist wants to make money by kidnapping the Pope, it does not stop them if you say: "but if you do that, the Pope will excommunicate you".)

Replies from: wedrifid
comment by wedrifid · 2012-06-19T15:57:10.710Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Would not work if the trespassers believe that cryopreservation does not work, but would like to extort money from people who believe that cryopreservation works.

It kind of does. "Forcibly cryopreserved" means you kill them.

As an analogy, if an atheist wants to make money by kidnapping the Pope, it does not stop them if you say: "but if you do that, the Pope will excommunicate you".

... making the correct analogy "The pope will kill you then you will spend eternity in hell."

comment by SSA · 2012-06-17T23:59:07.298Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

At this stage we have 9 investors and are talking to 2 more people.

We've incorporated but disciplined ourselves to having at least the first 10 before we start spending significant amounts of money on development. Looking for land and construction are therefore set to start very soon but we will continue to accept investors through the construction period until the facility becomes operational.

We recognise that there is a risk factor involved with signing up for a cryonics organisation that is completely new (so new it isn't even operating yet). That's why the pioneering investors are given increased voting rights and involvement in the project along with a number of other benefits.

Once we start construction we will continue to accept investors but with less voting rights. The main advantage for this group will be the discounted cost of a suspension. ($50,000 final and complete cost, as opposed to the cost of suspension at the time the client deanimates).

After the facility is operational we anticipate charging more than $50,000 for a suspension but this cost may increase over time as a result of inflationary pressures. Obviously we will be aiming to keep costs as low as possible because we want to make the service accessible to as many people as possible but we also need to ensure the organization remains financially viable.

Replies from: Maelin
comment by Maelin · 2012-06-18T13:55:20.655Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Any rough figures yet about how the cost will break down into life insurance payout vs ongoing fees?

As a young and fairly healthy adult I'm not really concerned about final costs (life insurance is cheap!) but as a low-income earner (at the moment) I am concerned about annual fees.

Replies from: SSA
comment by SSA · 2012-06-19T02:39:05.958Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm afraid we don't at this point Maelin. We probably wont have a good idea of fee structure until about a year from now.

I can say that the investors who pay $50,000 are exempt and will always be exempt from annual fees. (Though that doesn't really answer you question).

We anticipate that most clients will finance their suspension through life insurance policies as you plan to and our aim is to make any ongoing fees as low as possible. This is partly because of an ideology of making Cryonics affordable to as many people as possible but, given the relatively small size of Australia's population, it will be especially important to make make our services accessible to as large a cross-section of the community as we can.

When we have a better idea of the fee structure we'll certainly let you and others know. Mark

comment by shokwave · 2012-06-15T06:47:33.661Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Excellent!