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Goals vs. Rewards 2011-01-04T01:43:52.981Z · score: 2 (5 votes)

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Comment by icebrand on Link - total body transplant · 2011-02-05T15:42:28.001Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the information. Edited out. The main issue I had with the original comment was that it seemed to assume everyone would agree with a specific, vastly oversimplified definition of organic death. In reality organic death is a process that happens over a long period of time and has not happened completely by the time the brain reaches LN2 temperatures in ideal circumstances. It could easily be reversible via biological means.

Comment by icebrand on Link - total body transplant · 2011-01-14T21:52:31.600Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps a different prefix would make it more clear that it is a formerly animate object, or between stages of being animate. E.g. postanimate or transanimate.

Comment by icebrand on Link - total body transplant · 2011-01-14T21:16:01.461Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

But the cells remain dead, as does the organ they comprise.

In the case of vitrification under ideal conditions this is not true of most of the cells. There is a spectrum of cryonics cases, and many of them do have a high rate of cell death, but the goal of cryonics is to prevent cell death to the greatest degree possible.

Death is a process, not an all or nothing proposition. You don't really need to assign a category "dead" or "not dead" to understand what's going on. The brain is broken beyond simple repair and ceases to be animate. Maybe a more useful term would be one that connotes brokenness rather than irreparability.

Most cells survive for several hours after clinical death. Ten minutes or so without oxygen (blood flow) initiates an ischemic cascade that current technology cannot halt, but this cascade takes a lot of time before most of the cells actually die.

ETA: It is a good point that cell death isn't the same problem as information loss. A really powerful AI with high grade molecular nanotech could probably recover more information by analyzing non-viable cells than a more minimalistic rejuvenation technology that simply rescues the remaining viable cells and replaces missing ones.

Comment by icebrand on Link - total body transplant · 2011-01-14T19:45:35.080Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Cryonics involves killing a brain (or preparing a dead brain) in such a way as to maximize the chances that some future technology can extract its instantiated mind.

[edit to take away the quibble about definitions]

Cryonics keeps open the possibilities both of uploading and robust repair scenarios. Assuming that it will play out one way or the other is unnecessarily specific for a belief about the future. There may be e.g. cultural or contractual reasons to repair people instead of extracting the information to instantiate on a digital substrate.

Comment by icebrand on Alternate Sleep Schedules · 2011-01-11T23:16:56.332Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Here is PureDoxyK's response to the Wozniak criticism. There's a funny bit...

  • There are no women doing polyphasic sleep. Which makes myself, my friend who first did Uberman with me, and my hero Heidi who’s gone more than a year-and-a-half on Uberman by now the most attractive, clean guys in HISTORY! Mind you, he doesn’t just state this silliness, but uses it as EVIDENCE for the fact that polyphasic sleep can’t work (because women’s “hormones” don’t allow it somehow). Yeah, ROFLcopter.
Comment by icebrand on Open Thread, January 2011 · 2011-01-11T01:15:58.505Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, plan A is definitely to wait as long as possible. :)

Comment by icebrand on Branding Biodiversity · 2011-01-09T20:32:06.757Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

For me this is in the "not surprising, but important to notice" category. Every kind of activism is a kind of marketing. The branding of important topics like cryonics, rationality, transhumanism, etc. tends to suffer from neglect, or plays out in weird ways that will never go mainstream. This may be due to the way we tend to think about them or the kind of people attracted to them.

Comment by icebrand on My mother is now in cryostasis · 2011-01-08T21:12:27.845Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This is an amazing story. Congratulations on your courage and the chance you have with your mother which many others do not. Even if it is small it is a source of hope.

This is the first case I've heard of where brain only cryonics was combined with a traditional funeral. KrioRus is the only current cryonics company that does brain only right now, so it is possible that more such cases may originate there in the future.

If this does become public in Russia, we may be presented with a useful data point about how controversial brain-only cryonics is. My theory is that it is less controversial and easier to rationalize for people who have failed to internalize the fact that the brain is a human being. If Ted Williams had been brain only, I wonder how that controversy would have played out differently.

Comment by icebrand on The Neglected Virtue of Scholarship · 2011-01-08T05:32:11.266Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

On the topic of scholarship, I'd like to mention that if one takes the notion of surviving cryopreservation seriously, it's probably a good idea to read up on cryobiology. Have at least a basic understanding of what's going to happen to your cells when your time comes. There is a rich and complex field behind it which very few individuals have much grasp on.

If the bug bites you to do so, you may even be able to go into the field and make some breakthroughs. Huge advances have been made in recent decades by very small numbers of cryonics-motivated scientists, suggesting that there is probably a lot of low-hanging fruit remaining. Even if there's not, it seems like relatively small amounts of incremental progress in this field could have a large total utility if cryonics somehow catches on and becomes widespread in the near future.

Note that Aschwin de Wolf has published a good deal of high quality technical information on his blog Depressed Metabolism, which is a good starting point. Leading cryobiologist Brian Wowk has also been answering all kinds of questions over on the Immortality Institute Cryonics Forum. Many of his publications are to be found here.

Comment by icebrand on New Year's Predictions Thread (2011) · 2011-01-07T18:47:25.085Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'd be more than happy to debate any and all pragmatic concerns you can think of in another thread. Feel free to start one in Discussion. I'm not signed up yet, focusing largely on the advocacy side of things. As a younger adult it seems like advocacy has a higher potential payoff both in research getting done before my turn comes and having freedom and necessary infrastructure to get preserved under ideal circumstances. Currently it's very difficult to arrange an ideal preservation.

I'm not 100% libertarian, and try to see both sides. There is something to the argument that there should be a law requiring cryonics organizations to have good financial arrangements covering long term care. The state has a legitimate interest in preventing the thawing of patients, along similar (though not identical) lines to the interest it has in preventing graveyards from having to sell their land to developers. But that interest is not even remotely close to being an adequate excuse to prevent patients from achieving an ideal preservation. We're being handed a false dichotomy when forced to regulate cryonics as if it were a cemetery operation (or as a standardly defined medical one, if it comes to that).

Comment by icebrand on New Year's Predictions Thread (2011) · 2011-01-07T16:05:32.816Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Cryonics has recently attracted a small but dedicated opposition who've adopted the framing that cryonics is a scam which consumers need protection from. (I won't link to them, but you can find them in any google search for the word "cryonics".) The basic issue seems to be that it matches their perception of a Scientology-like cult. They've been growing more active, so I wouldn't put it past them to try to push something through this year.

There was a bill specifically targeting cryonics proposed in 2004 in Arizona. Arguably the Ted Williams event was its cause, so as long as cryonics organizations are more careful to establish clear evidence of consent in celebrity cases, the likelihood of it being repeated in a given year should be relatively low.

Oddly enough the publicity from the Ted Williams case triggered an investigation in Michigan in which they determined that CI was an unlicensed cemetery. While not exactly a new law, it is certainly new legal restriction as the existing law for cemeteries prohibits preparing the body on site.

That's not to say there aren't useful features of cemetery law -- e.g. there's a law for making sure that 15% of a cemetery's monies are kept in perpetual care fund. A law like this would make sense in the context of cryonics facilities if they were considered as a separate sort of entity from cemeteries that is permitted to do things necessary for patient care which have no relevance to a cemetery situation, such as preparing the patient on site.

Comment by icebrand on Dark Arts 101: Using presuppositions · 2011-01-02T23:02:49.567Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I hadn't thought of it specifically in terms of persuasive writing. But that's essentially what I want to do; persuade cryonics advocates to take more action, and persuade fence-sitters to become advocates. Perhaps reading some formal persuasive writing literature would be instructive to getting a more natural feel. But as you say it is likely to be more a matter of practice. My normal style is more explanatory than persuasive.

Comment by icebrand on New Year's Predictions Thread (2011) · 2011-01-02T20:25:36.160Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In 2011, a new law will be proposed in some jurisdiction which specifically: Restricts cryonics activity. 15%. Protects cryonics patients. 3%.

Comment by icebrand on Dark Arts 101: Using presuppositions · 2011-01-02T20:00:46.945Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

For a potentially positive version of this, see my blog. I deliberately assume that the reader is an advocate of cryonics, despite an awareness that some (most?) potential readers are not already interested in advocating cryonics. My working assumption is that this will influence a substantial portion of fence-sitters to define themselves as cryonics advocates in order to resolve the cognitive dissonance -- more so than e.g. directly arguing that people should become cryonics advocates.

I wouldn't be doing this if I thought people are likely to become cryonics advocates by rational processes or that being a cryonics advocate is irrational. Rather I see it as a form of defense against the dark arts previously being employed in favor of the status quo (i.e. ignorance and apathy on the subject). I wouldn't want to see this sort of thing become the Less Wrong norm though, as it would confuse people. Less Wrong is an environment in which Dark Arts are combated routinely and directly, indeed doing so is its primary focus.

But to abstain from the dark arts in my little advocacy blog would require shifting the focus to epistemic rationality itself and losing most of the potential audience, who would find it boring and uncompelling. From an instrumentally rational perspective it just does not make sense in the situation. Fighting fire with fire (or ice with fire, if we want to improve the metaphor) makes more sense.

Comment by icebrand on Working hurts less than procrastinating, we fear the twinge of starting · 2011-01-02T19:15:26.122Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for the reference, looks like a good book. I thought this part regarding motives for procrastination was interesting:

More recently, Sapadin and Maguire (1997) have also classified procrastinators into types: the "perfectionist" who dreads doing anything that is less than perfect, the "dreamer" who has great ideas but hates doing the details, the "worrier" who doesn't think things are right but fears that changes will make them worse, the "defier" who resists doing anything suggested or expected by someone else, the "crisis-maker" who manages to find or make a big problem in any project (often by starting too late), and the "over-doer" who takes on way too many tasks.

Also there's this bit on how to address the problem using college students' studying as an example (p. 83):

Most people have to overcome procrastination gradually. Studying, like drinking, is usually in binges. Almost no one has trouble studying (a little) the night before a big exam. But without the pressure of an exam, many students find it easy to forget studying. I'd suggest breaking big jobs down into manageable tasks and working on "getting started," perhaps by tricking yourself by saying "I'll just do five minutes" and then finding out you don't mind working longer than five minutes. This is called the "five minute plan." The key is to learn the habit of getting started on a task early, i.e. the procrastinator needs to learn to initiate well in advance studying and preparing for papers and exams. Practice starting studying several times every day. As with exercising, getting in control of starting and making it a routine are the secrets.

Comment by icebrand on A Fate Worse Than Death · 2011-01-02T17:26:42.047Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

While I see your point for the most part, I wouldn't want to end my life rather than "suffer" 50 years of bliss prior to dying. The only horror there is the lack of economic productivity, human relationships, etc. in the meantime (which are also correlated with death) and the potentially high cost. I might prefer death over going deeply in debt or badly sapping social services (for reasons of pride), but if I was productive enough to save up all the necessary funding prior to the event I don't see why there is a problem with spending it on 50 final years of chemical bliss.

Now, if there was a chance of reviving when those 50 years are over, or benefiting from additional cryonics and anti-aging progress, I'd be much more willing to go into debt for it or sap social services. Because in that event the probability would be significant that I could pay it back. Heck I'd be willing to put up with quite a bit of torture for the chance to extend my life thousands of years.