What hardcore singularity believers should consider doing

post by James_Miller · 2010-10-27T20:26:04.499Z · score: 3 (18 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 22 comments

Leading singularity proponent Ray Kurzweil co-authored a book titled Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever.  A singularity believer who thinks that if he makes it to the singularity he has an excelling chance of living forever, or at least for thousands of years, should be willing to sacrifice much for a slightly higher chance of living long enough to make it to the singularity.  This is why I think singularity believers make up a vastly disproportionate percentage of members of cryonics organizations. 


According to a new scientific article there is a medical procedure that might be able to greatly extend some peoples’ lives.  Although we don’t have a huge amount of data one small study showed that several hundred people on average lived 14 years longer than those that didn’t get the procedure.


Singularity proponents should be extremely interested in the procedure.  Indeed, a way of testing whether members of the SIAI such as Eliezer really and truly believe in the singularity is whether they at least seriously consider having the procedure.


The procedure is discussed at the end of this article.







Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by satt · 2010-10-27T21:14:02.505Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

On the other hand...

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-10-27T21:40:54.045Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What should hardcore singulatarians do with their savings/investments? That's one I've struggled with, because the uncomfortable implication is that I shouldn't be putting my money in any one country, or in IRAs, and maybe I should take as much long-term, fixed dollar debt as I can.

comment by Arbitrarity · 2010-10-29T11:57:21.898Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I should take as much long-term, fixed dollar debt as I can.

Get 50 credit cards in one day and go on to accrue as much debt as possible over the course of a few years. Give the credit card companies a temporary address and a temporary phone number such that you can lose their annoyance easily. Put half of your newfound free money into high yield investment opportunities such that you have a shot of paying it all back later. Use the other half to travel the world, become Enlightened, learn highly useful skills, and get yourself in a good position to make a lot of money or otherwise gain a lot of utility. Downsides: no mortgages, difficult to rent a house or apartment (but still not that difficult), if you want a new car you have to buy it with cash, some jobs will be harder to get (but it's not that big a deal), it might be difficult to move to a new country, it might disrupt your peace of mind, structural uncertainty, and goal distortion. I think a free 50,000USD or however much is worth those costs.

(I am not a financial advisor.)

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-10-29T13:09:44.476Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am not a financial advisor.

I didn't notice.

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-10-28T23:27:18.706Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would take it as a decent experimental result indicating that you aren't as confident in a 21st-century, world-revolutioning Singularity as you liked to think you were.

comment by jimrandomh · 2010-10-27T22:18:21.154Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The article linked mentions (but does not cite) a study claiming that castration caused a 14 year increase in life expectancy. Could that be true in general?

No way. I defy the data; there is something extremely strange about that sample. My guess is that the unnamed mental institution where the study was conducted was killing its patients, through abuse or negligence, but let the castrated ones leave.

comment by playtherapist · 2010-10-28T02:08:06.089Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I did a little Googling. It seems that cats and dogs that are castrated do live longer than those that don't, so lower testosterone might be correlated with longevity. I think, though, that the effect on patients in mental institutions may be greater than on the population as a whole. Mentally ill, institutionalized patients are often violent. Castration would tend to calm them down. It would lead to less fights, less time in isolation rooms and being treated better by the staff. That would all contribute to longer lives on average.

In any case, even if castrated individuals don't live longer, it would FEEL longer.

comment by DanArmak · 2010-10-28T08:47:10.308Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It seems that cats and dogs that are castrated do live longer than those that don't, so lower testosterone might be correlated with longevity.

My vet explained that this is because a castrated (male) cat doesn't seek out risks, travel far, get into fights, or claim a large territory, as much as an non-castrated cat seeking to mate.

Do you know of a study that shows castrated cats live longer controlling for environmental danger, e.g. a study of indoors-only cats?

comment by playtherapist · 2010-10-28T11:48:11.939Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I haven't found one. While searching I found comments that castration protects against testicular cancer, enlargement of the prostrate and related infections.

On the other hand, I also found a reference stating: " two studies found that the metabolic rate of spayed and neutered cats is lower than intact cats" and that ":Spayed and neutered cats have an 8.7 times greater risk of developing diabetes than intact cats"

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-10-28T23:29:47.070Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

castration protects against testicular cancer

Well, that much I can certainly believe with utter confidence.

comment by steven0461 · 2010-10-28T19:14:26.336Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Whatever happened to Lojban?

comment by ata · 2010-10-30T01:21:39.710Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Honestly, I would be very curious to know if chemical castration (which is apparently not as nasty as it sounds — I think I read that it results in no permanent physical changes and is reversible by discontinuing administration of the drug) would have positive effects on rationality. I can see how it might; considering that (as Will put it) your thoughts are bent by what you wish to signal, cutting out the drive to constantly signal reproductive fitness could remove a significant source of thought-bendage.

Not that I'm volunteering to try it, but...

comment by PhilGoetz · 2010-11-03T22:24:51.219Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Tried it. Similar effect to satiating desire, but without the positive affect. May cause depression. My memory is dim; I may be unconsciously extrapolating from the opposite of doing the opposite, rather than remembering. Signalling is probably a habit, not to be so easily dropped.

See One year follow-up study of the association between chemical castration, sex hormones, beta-amyloid, memory and depression in men for a summary of effects in a study.

comment by NihilCredo · 2010-10-28T23:25:38.007Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Going by his comments history, he became even less creative as a troll and quit over a year ago.

comment by draq · 2010-10-28T18:57:03.159Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So we presume that all members of SIAI want to live forever? Maybe someone enjoys sex more than longevity.

comment by ata · 2010-10-30T01:48:48.997Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Increasing your probability of living forever(/for a really really long time) still greatly increases your expected sex, assuming FAI can reverse castration.

comment by ata · 2010-10-28T22:25:10.994Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In the early days of LW wasn't there a guy who kept posting about how getting castrated helped his rationality?

comment by Relsqui · 2010-10-27T22:02:53.552Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I really don't see how it follows that if one believes in the singularity and the potential of living forever, one should make a great sacrifice for a small chance of living another dozen years. How would that further the goal of living for thousands of years?

comment by Nick_Tarleton · 2010-10-28T03:02:24.141Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It gives you a better chance of making it there.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-10-28T03:27:34.877Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

i.e. if the way to immortality is discovered in those fourteen years? Fair enough, that's a good answer. I think it also applies to every other goal/event, though.

comment by cata · 2010-10-28T17:58:15.952Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sure, but the difference is that the upside of living through to the singularity is supposedly so enormous as to dwarf almost any sacrifice you could make prior to that. That's not true for many other goals.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-10-28T21:21:17.528Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

True. Just clarifying.