A review of cryonics/brain preservation in 2016

2016-12-31T18:19:56.460Z · score: 21 (22 votes)

How computational approaches can contribute to brain preservation research

2016-12-16T18:56:11.746Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Comment by andy_mckenzie on Why GiveWell can't recommend MIRI or anything like it · 2016-11-29T18:39:47.688Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think this is a good point, although I think that a Givewell-like site theoretically could compare charities in a particular domain in which outcomes aren't easily measurable. Just because things aren't easily measurable doesn't mean that they are unmeasurable.

Stand-up comedy as a way to improve rationality skills

2016-11-27T21:52:33.989Z · score: 5 (6 votes)
Comment by andy_mckenzie on Open Thread May 23 - May 29, 2016 · 2016-05-25T00:48:07.464Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted because this is a good critique. My rationale for using this scale is that I was less interested in absolute interest in cryonics and more in relative interest in cryonics between groups. The data and my code are publicly available, so if you are bothered by it, then you should do your own analysis.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Open Thread May 23 - May 29, 2016 · 2016-05-23T13:31:00.451Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I used ingres's excellent LW 2016 survey data set to do some analyses on the extended LW community's interest in cryonics. Fair warning, the stats are pretty basic and descriptive. Here it is: http://www.brainpreservation.org/interest-in-cryonics-from-the-less-wrong-2016-survey/

Comment by andy_mckenzie on The Growth of My Pessimism: Transhumanism, Immortalism, Effective Altruism. · 2015-11-28T20:03:38.680Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You didn't explain anything about the evolution of your thoughts related to cryonics/brain preservation in particular. Why is that?

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Genosets · 2015-08-09T23:32:21.651Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm a PhD student in genomics (read: argument to authority). Regulatory issues are definitely important and largely an impediment that should be removed, imo. That said, I think the larger issue is capturing and integrating good phenotypic and disease state data into datasets. Although there are large genomics data sets available, generally they have pretty sparse and poorly annotated phenotypic data. This is actually tied to other regulatory issues related to medicine. If you think this is important, please do consider getting involved in the area.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on We really need a "cryonics sales pitch" article. · 2015-08-07T21:42:02.300Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. This is part of the mission of the Brain Preservation Foundation. The American Cryonics Society is also in this space, I believe.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Should you write longer comments? (Statistical analysis of the relationship between comment length and ratings) · 2015-07-20T19:41:39.721Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What should cleonid do instead (if anything)? And even if something is not true in general, could it still be used as an approximation?

Comment by andy_mckenzie on I have just donated $10,000 to the Immortality Bus, which was the most rational decision of my life · 2015-07-20T16:45:52.579Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Great! Please feel free to also contact Ken Hayworth if you are interested in more information: http://brainpreservation.org/content/contact

Comment by andy_mckenzie on I have just donated $10,000 to the Immortality Bus, which was the most rational decision of my life · 2015-07-20T14:05:18.785Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What does "adequately funded" mean in this context? Certainly labs at the Buck Insitute could easily expand in personal or experiments given more money. Importantly, SENS and BI also collaborate, and many SENS grant dollars are awarded to scientists at BI (I don't know the exact numbers, but last time I looked into it, this was the case).

Comment by andy_mckenzie on I have just donated $10,000 to the Immortality Bus, which was the most rational decision of my life · 2015-07-20T01:37:13.335Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If you think that there is promise in brain preservation (e.g., cryonics), your money may also be highly leveraged if you donate to the Brain Preservation Foundation (disclosure: I'm a volunteer for BPF). Cryonics is not a static technology -- this is the #1 lesson from Mike Darwin's blog, who is probably the most knowledgeable person about cryonics alive. And other technologies for brain preservation, such as aldehyde-stabilized cryopreservation, are possible. BPF has a track record of providing grants that has already led to promising research avenues. However, there is basically no funding for this research, as publicly evidenced by the fact that BPF's two largest donations over the past two years have been for $1000 each.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Biases and Fallacies Game Cards · 2015-07-15T20:00:38.955Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Cool. You might also find my attempt at this interesting: http://lesswrong.com/lw/csf/which_cognitive_biases_should_we_trust_in/

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Biases and Fallacies Game Cards · 2015-07-15T16:44:02.843Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is fantastic and each entry is in good format to be converted to SRS (eg, Anki) cards, either backwards or forwards.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Open Thread, Jul. 13 - Jul. 19, 2015 · 2015-07-13T18:41:21.757Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

With regard to your first question, you could also

A) plan to move to a hospice near a facility when you are near to death

and/or

B) arrange for standby to transfer you after legal death.

Of course, there are many trade-offs involved with either. In my estimation, the most useful thing would be for you to get engaged in a local community and try to push forward on basic research and logistical issues involved, although obviously that is not an easy task.

With regard to your second question, as with everything in cryonics, this has been endlessly discussed. See a good article by Mike Dawrin on the topic here: http://chronopause.com/chronopause.com/index.php/2011/08/11/the-kurzwild-man-in-the-night/index.html

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Open Thread, Jul. 13 - Jul. 19, 2015 · 2015-07-13T18:33:08.872Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is a widely discussed topic. See, eg, here: http://mindclones.blogspot.com/?m=1

Comment by andy_mckenzie on The Person As Input · 2015-07-08T03:58:05.521Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Great post, but IMO not that compelling of a title. Maybe add like ", or, Why God Mode is Super Lame."

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Top 9+2 myths about AI risk · 2015-07-01T01:39:45.342Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for your response and not to be argumentative, but honest question: doesn't that mean that you want some forms of AI research to slow down, at least on a relative scale?

I personally don't see any thing wrong with this stance, but it seems to me like you're trying to suggest that this trade-off doesn't exist, and that's not at all what I took from reading Bostrom's Superintelligence.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Top 9+2 myths about AI risk · 2015-06-30T13:28:04.070Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That we want to stop AI research. We don’t. Current AI research is very far from the risky areas and abilities. And it’s risk aware AI researchers that are most likely to figure out how to make safe AI.

Is it really the case that nobody interested in AI risk/safety wants to stop or slow down progress in AI research? It seemed to me there was perhaps at least substantial minority that wanted to do this, to buy time.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on The Unfriendly Superintelligence next door · 2015-06-26T04:36:45.100Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for this post -- very interesting.

One question:

In general, medical researchers should not be doing statistics. That is a job for the tech industry.

Are you claiming that the tech industry is better at stats, or could be better at stats, if it were somehow decentralized? If the former, what's your evidence?

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Cryonics: peace of mind vs. immortality · 2015-06-24T22:18:41.545Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This is almost certainly true for most plane crashes or ship sinkings.

However, it is not necessarily true of a car crash, and this is a common misconception. In most motor vehicle accidents, individuals do not die instantaneously, and it can take many hours or even days for death to be pronounced.

This is why, for example, people are more likely to die if their car crashes in a rural area than an urban one, where they have less access to hospitals.

If you have standby services in place, and they are able to get to the hospital in a reasonable interval, then this would not affect your preservation that much, in the absence of blunt trauma to the head or cerebral hemorrhage.

As an example of this, consider one of the most famous car crashes: Princess Diana, who died three and a half hours after a particularly high-impact car crash.

So, if you accept the premise of cryonics in the average case (obviously a big if), then dying in a car crash is not necessarily going to stop the procedure from being successful.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Update on the Brain Preservation Foundation Prize · 2015-06-05T04:26:24.468Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

As I understand it, the major advantage is that doing the cross-linking first (e.g. w glutaraldehyde) saves you time and maintains blood vessels so that traditional cryoprotectants can diffuse more widely across brain tissue. It also may allow easier validation of the cryopreservation protocol, because you don't have as many dehydration issues.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Update on the Brain Preservation Foundation Prize · 2015-05-26T19:35:33.298Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

No, I don't think so; although I don't know exactly what is in the 100 ul of "Equilibration Solution" and "Vitrification Solution", I highly doubt that they cross-link any proteins like glutaraldehyde does. Because C. elegans are so small, it is much easier for standard cryoprotectant agents to diffuse across them. So, methods to stabilize blood vessels and tissue parenchyma prior to cryoprotectant agent perfusion, which is valuable in larger animals such as pigs, are not necessary in C. elegans.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Update on the Brain Preservation Foundation Prize · 2015-05-26T02:32:01.823Z · score: 22 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Sure. Basically, there are two groups, each of which has made a major contribution:

1) Shawn Mikula and his group. They have made substantial progress (some would say, almost solved) of how to make the neuronal connections and other brain structures such as white matter tracts in a full mouse brain traceable using electron microscopy. Electron microscopy is the lowest level of imaging currently feasible, and can clearly resolve structures that are thought to be key to memory such as synapses.

2) The 21CM group, including Robert McIntyre. They have developed a totally new method of preserving a brain that should yield both highly practical and technical sound preservation. In a sense it combines the methods discussed by Gwern in his article Plastination vs Cryonics, because it first uses a method traditionally associated with "plastination" (glutaraldehyde perfusion), and then uses a method traditionally associated with cryonics, i.e. perfusion with a cryoprotective agent and then low temperature storage and, presumably, vitrification, which means that damage from ice crystal formation should be avoided and the brain should turn a glass state.

Apologies if this is still too technical and I'm happy to answer any follow-up questions. Many key steps remain but this is progress worthy of celebrating and, in my view, supporting.

Update on the Brain Preservation Foundation Prize

2015-05-26T01:47:20.018Z · score: 26 (27 votes)
Comment by andy_mckenzie on Strategies and tools for getting through a break up · 2015-05-20T03:11:34.062Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting data and makes sense. My intuition is that colloquial knowledge is positing a short run vs long run trade-off, in so far as you're more likely to settle in a rebound relationship, and then this could set you up for another break-up and associated long-term unhappiness. Short-term studies are not well-suited to address this.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on We Should Introduce Ourselves Differently · 2015-05-18T20:52:53.207Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Below is the current text (without links). I agree your sentence is helpful. Do you want to add it to the current page or replace the bias sentence?

In the past four decades, behavioral economists and cognitive psychologists have discovered many cognitive biases human brains fall prey to when thinking and deciding.

Less Wrong is an online community for people who want to apply the discovery of biases like the conjunction fallacy, the affect heuristic, and scope insensitivity in order to fix their own thinking.

Bayesian reasoning offers a way to improve on the native human reasoning style. Reasoning naively, we tend not to seek alternative explanations, and sometimes underrate the influence of prior probabilities in Bayes' theorem.

Less Wrong users aim to develop accurate predictive models of the world, and change their mind when they find evidence disconfirming those models, instead of being able to explain anything.

For more, see the Less Wrong about page.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Strategies and tools for getting through a break up · 2015-05-18T20:39:34.684Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

One of the best posts I've read on LW in awhile. Love the book metaphor.

Totally honest question here, and please feel free to not answer this if you'd rather not: how can you tell when a relationship is a rebound relationship?

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Open Thread, May 4 - May 10, 2015 · 2015-05-06T23:00:51.121Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ugh, that's awful, sorry. It seems like you have a pretty complicated and frustrating situation -- feel free to PM me or email me (gmail: amckenz) if you want to talk more.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Open Thread, May 4 - May 10, 2015 · 2015-05-04T19:57:13.762Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm in a PhD program in the life sciences and although I haven't graduated myself (still in my first year), based on almost all of the advice I've read, this is good advice. The way to prove to your advisor that you deserve to be able to do quick secondary experiments with people outside of your field is to submit a paper of your own, and then you can do those experiments in the interim while you're waiting for the reviews. That said, I don't think I'm all that Slytherin (although I admit that this is what a Slytherin would say).

Comment by andy_mckenzie on What are the resolution limits of medical imaging? · 2015-04-26T14:19:03.211Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oops, didn't realize that those (big picture) details weren't on their website. I think if you're curious you should contact them.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on What are the resolution limits of medical imaging? · 2015-04-26T04:11:52.526Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Here's an interesting link: http://www.brainbackups.com/

[some big picture narrative redacted]

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Open thread, Mar. 23 - Mar. 31, 2015 · 2015-03-23T13:39:29.532Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The search term "pack years" may be helpful to you. Dose is definitely considered important.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Calories per dollar vs calories per glycemic load: some notes on my diet · 2015-03-16T13:29:55.546Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Right now just eat a few meals a day (skipping breakfast usually) until I'm no longer hungry. For cooking, I mostly use a rice cooker, which is really easy and way more versatile than you'd expect.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Calories per dollar vs calories per glycemic load: some notes on my diet · 2015-03-16T13:28:20.026Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the insulin index recommendation. I'm not worried about satiety issues for now, though I almost certainly will be one day if I live long enough. That said, that list is also a really money approach, +1.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Calories per dollar vs calories per glycemic load: some notes on my diet · 2015-03-15T20:55:50.297Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the advice and no offense taken. Since I'm far from an expert in this area it didn't make sense for me to try to generalize to advice, but I thought the data set could be useful.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Calories per dollar vs calories per glycemic load: some notes on my diet · 2015-03-14T21:06:32.091Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the positive feedback. In re your critique, do you want to bet that the prices will be on average more than 30% percent different at your nearest grocery store?

Calories per dollar vs calories per glycemic load: some notes on my diet

2015-03-14T16:07:32.893Z · score: 6 (11 votes)
Comment by andy_mckenzie on Open thread, Feb. 9 - Feb. 15, 2015 · 2015-02-09T23:29:26.444Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Worth noting that a medical prescribing app lots of doctors use (blanking on the specific one, saw it a few months ago, possibly Epocrates) suggests taking melatonin more like 2-4 hours before sleep, so this parameter may be worth experimenting on.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on We Haven't Uploaded Worms · 2014-12-26T18:59:10.154Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Basically this is electrophysiology research on C elegans. Most of the research being done, AFAIK, is hypothesis testing and doesn't systematically measure all of the connection strengths at once. Plus then you have the correlation vs causation problem even if you did measure them all at, which is why davidad wanted to do optogenetics, but again AFAIK that didn't actually get done.

Bottom line: this research is technically difficult and like most research topics is not well funded.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on We Haven't Uploaded Worms · 2014-12-25T16:54:59.487Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed, and this is very similar to what I described in my comment on the other post about this here.

Where I disagree is the sole focus on connection strengths or weights. They are certainly important, but synapses are unlikely to be adequately described by just one parameter. Further, local effects like neuropeptides likely play a role.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on 2015 New Years Resolution Thread · 2014-12-25T16:49:21.775Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is interesting but I don't fully understand what you're trying to trying to get across. Explain further? Ie what does it mean to overcome yourself?

Comment by andy_mckenzie on 2015 New Years Resolution Thread · 2014-12-25T16:47:47.492Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is a good point, and in fact immediately after writing my comment I partially regretted it because of this.

The major upside for me, though, is that I could get advice and feedback on whether/how to achieve my goal.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on 2015 New Years Resolution Thread · 2014-12-25T14:34:27.644Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If you have a smart phone there are apps that will automate this -- for example, based on your location, or based on movement within your bed.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on 2015 New Years Resolution Thread · 2014-12-25T14:32:56.614Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I was thinking of social support of other people's goals.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Pomodoro for Programmers · 2014-12-25T00:02:23.110Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How much? :)

Comment by andy_mckenzie on 2015 New Years Resolution Thread · 2014-12-25T00:01:44.903Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's probably true. Can you think of anything that I could do that would correlate with programming quality and that doesn't depend on other people? I.e., I could say get at least two GH repositories with >= 1 stars, but that relies on other people, so doesn't seem process oriented enough for a NYR.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on 2015 New Years Resolution Thread · 2014-12-25T00:00:25.608Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Great list! Hope you don't mind a couple of questions.

I hereby vow to donate 1% of my income below the taxation threshold and 10% of any income beyond that to a mix of GiveWell, CFAR, MIRI and Wikipedia of my choosing.

Any particular reason to donate to Wikipedia? I ask because I just read this interesting article about Wikimedia donations that was posted on the FB EA thread a few days ago.

Also, how many applications per month?

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Pomodoro for Programmers · 2014-12-24T22:23:01.021Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you walk around for at least a little bit of this 15 minute period?

Comment by andy_mckenzie on 2015 New Years Resolution Thread · 2014-12-24T22:20:12.552Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My new years resolution, as part of a longer-term goal to become better at coding, is to make at least one commit to github every day in 2015. Not all of these will be public, because some of them will be currently private code associated with my lab work. But, I'll post a screenshot at the end of the year.

Has anyone tried a similar thing, have advice for me, or think that this is a terrible idea?

2015 New Years Resolution Thread

2014-12-24T22:16:35.669Z · score: 4 (7 votes)
Comment by andy_mckenzie on LINK: Nematode brain uploaded with success · 2014-12-24T18:29:37.395Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed this is not brain uploading. Actually this research is not that much different from what has previously been done in computer simulations. The advance is having embedded it in a physical substrate vs a computer.

However, are you implying that C. elegans uploading wouldn't count as uploading because it's so much simpler that a human brain? If so, I disagree with you there. A lot of people think that it would be basically impossible to encode preferences from a C elegans organism (eg learned patterns) into a computer. It certainly hasn't been done yet AFAIK. Doing it would be a conceptual advance and would allow us to tweak our models of how certain types of neurons, electrical synapses, and chemical synapses work, inter alia.

Also, whether you call the C. elegans nervous system a "brain" or a "ganglia" is a question of semantics. Many and perhaps most researchers do call it a brain, see eg here.

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Podcast: Rationalists in Tech · 2014-12-16T03:33:46.721Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I really liked the podcast that I listened to. However, I agree with Capla that I'd prefer for it to be indexed on the iTunes podcast list. Might not be worth the effort, though. https://www.apple.com/itunes/podcasts/specs.html

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-16T03:32:10.774Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

For weak effects your position holds, but for stronger effects you should duly consider anthropic effects. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropic_principle

Comment by andy_mckenzie on Request for suggestions: ageing and data-mining · 2014-12-03T01:20:12.278Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Happy I was able to spread useful information!

That SENS is mentioned more than the Buck institute is likely because they have a highly charismatic leader who's written a popular book. The Buck institute is slightly more conventional and also gets NIH funding. Also the Buck institute and SENS collaborate, for example on undergrad research opportunities. I've donated to SENS myself and I obviously think they do useful work too.

Good to know re: friendliness of the person who runs the GRG mailing list.

What are the most common and important trade-offs that decision makers face?

2014-11-03T05:03:16.968Z · score: 10 (11 votes)

One way to manipulate your level of abstraction related to a task

2013-08-19T05:47:10.920Z · score: 26 (27 votes)

[LINK] Hypothesis about the mechanism for storing long-term memory

2013-07-10T14:33:14.244Z · score: 3 (6 votes)

Which cognitive biases should we trust in?

2012-06-01T06:37:44.383Z · score: 17 (17 votes)

The Outside View Of Human Complexity

2011-10-08T18:12:03.504Z · score: 14 (20 votes)

What Makes My Attempt Special?

2010-09-26T06:55:38.929Z · score: 35 (36 votes)

Step Back

2009-05-09T18:07:34.526Z · score: 17 (18 votes)