Three Strikes and You’re Out!

By Mike Darwin

Left: Science Fiction writer Fred Pohl, with friend.

Predicting the future is a tough business. It is an especially tough business when it is proposed  that the prediction be highly specific and technically accurate. Say, akin to predicting the iPhone with Siri in 1965. It’s often been noted that none of the Golden Age of Science Fiction writers like Heinlein, Clarke, or Asimov predicted the PC, let alone the laptop. And most didn’t have a clue about the emerging developments in biology. So, the odds that one of those esteemed gentlemen would have conjured up a hand-held device that you could ask just about any question to (and get a useful answer), pay your bills through, order your meals with, get directions from, do your banking over, get reminders, entertainment or voice mail from and have a conversation with…well, the odds of that were just about nil. Just about, but not, as it turns out, quite nil.

In his 1965 cryonics novel, The Age Of The Pussyfoot, that Golden Age Science fiction writer, co-contemporary and friend of Bob Ettinger, Fred Pohl posited the existence of a device called the Joymaker, which every civilized person would necessarily have to have. The Joymaker incorporated the following features and uses:

  • Access to sophisticated computing for money management, scientific calculations, etc.
  • Access to planetary libraries at any time and any place.
  • The education of children each of whom have their own Joymakers.
  • Health Maintenance: the Joymaker monitors vitals, administers life saving or mood altering medications, summons emergency medical help and summons cryopreservation services in the event of cardiac  arrest.
  • The Joymaker offers voice mail which is the core of interpersonal interaction in the novel.
  • Orders all food and beverages and arranges payment, both in the home and in public.
  • Orders all other goods for delivery and since payment is automatic, the expense of items is not always apparent to the buyers. Thus, the protagonist rapidly depletes his “fortune.”
  • Replaces the public address system allowing any group of people to hear a public announcement on their Joymakers thus eliminating the need for loudspeakers in public places or interruption of entertainment programming.
  • Locating people. The central computer can track the position of any Joymaker, and by extension, its owner. This information can be made available at the owner’s discretion.
  • Jobs not requiring physical presence. One character is a “Reacter,” someone who samples new products and reports her reactions using the Joymaker. The central computer analyzes her reactions in the light of her known psychological makeup and is able to statistically predict how well the product will sell.

Left: Robert C. W. Ettinger, the father of cryonics.

The Age Of The Pussyfoot was set in the year 2527. However, in his Afterword to the novel, Pohl noted that he thought many of the functions of the Joymaker would be realized not in five centuries, but more likely in five decades.  Forty seven years after Pussyfoot, the iPhone with Siri is here, and most of Pohl’s predictions are  indeed a reality.  And, at age 93, Fred Pohl has survived long enough to see his predictions become reality. His friend and fellow science fiction writer Bob Ettinger was cryopreserved late last year and Pohl has been intimately aware of cryonics for ~50 years. He was one of the first people Ettinger contacted about the idea and over the ensuing five decades Ettinger never ceased to nag Pohl to make cryonics arrangements. The two were good friends and stayed in touch in writing – the last letter Ettinger wrote to Pohl shortly before his cryopreservation, admonished him, yet again, to get signed up for cryonics.

I too had tried to persuade Pohl to make cryonics arrangements, even offering him a “free freeze” in 1978. When Ettinger entered cryopreservation on July 23, 2011, Pohl wrote a moving tribute him on his blog “The way of the Future” and this prompted me to take up where Bob necessarily left off in urging Fred to make cryonics arrangements:

Mike Darwin says: Hello, Fred, this is from Mike Darwin, the guy who made you the offer of a “free freeze” after dinner that night in Louisville, KY in our suite in the Galt House hotel. You were the Guest of Honor at the American Science Fiction Convention in 1978, and we took you to dinner and made you an offer that, as it turned out, you easily could refuse! If you want to read an account of that meeting from the perspective of the cryonics people present at that time, it’s up on line, here: and is entitled, “When You Can’t Even Give it Away – Cryonics and Fred Pohl.

When you write about Bob Ettinger, “He wrote me one more letter, good-naturedly urging me to change my mind. That was the end,” I would say in response, “Uh, uh, it is much more likely, on the basis of probability alone, that was the end not for Bob, but for you.

Bob and I talked and corresponded about you a number of times over the years. Unlike you, I was not close to Bob, and we were often at odds. Interestingly, one of the few things that ever resulted in a genuine emotional connection between us was the offer we made to cryopreserve you for free. While he was too reserved and diplomatic to say so, your given reason for turning cryonics down, well, to be frank, I think it pissed him off a little. It was apparent that he genuinely liked and admired you and that, maybe just as importantly, he shared a common past with you. You and he grew up in the Golden Age of Science Fiction and you both shared the common narrative and heritage of what is now being called “The Greatest Generation.” The last time I saw Bob, was over dinner a few years ago in Michigan. He was quite frail, but wickedly lucid. I asked him if you were still compos mente and if he was still in touch with you. He sighed, “Yes,” and a “Yes.” And then he momentarily lost his temper, which is something I almost never saw him do. I don’t remember his exact words, but they were pretty to close to this: “I guess he doesn’t think that much of me or of the rest us, because he’s so worried about being alone and displaced from the people he knows and loves now. Doesn’t he think I’ll be there? Doesn’t he think any of the hundred or so others from our generation will be there? And if he does, and he is so worried about loneliness and social isolation, then dammit why doesn’t he come along to keep us company?”

I thought that was an extraordinarily good question. But logical and emotional arguments aside, it was painfully clear to me that HE WANTED YOU ALONG FOR THE RIDE. I had a hard time holding back the tears, and I had to excuse myself to the men’s room.

When most men die, their probability for any future goes to zero; in effect, their event horizon collapses. That’s about to happen to you (and to me, and to everyone else). Say what you will, Bob Ettinger now confronts two possibilities – oblivion, or one hell of a really interesting future. A future far more fantastic than anything you or he ever dreamed of, or wrote about. If nothing else, just to have come that far and to be in that position, well, it’s a hell of an accomplishment. And I am very grateful to Bob Ettinger for achieving it, because it opens that possibility to me, as well.

So, Fred, here’s the deal. Your friend is waiting for you: he damn sure wanted you to embark on the adventure (good or bad) that he has now begun. In fact, he kept at you to go until, literally, almost his last breath for this life cycle. He can’t do it anymore, so I guess it is my turn, once again, to ask you to reconsider and to join your friend and colleague on his journey into the land you both dreamed of when you were young, and in your salad days. Please, reconsider your arguments. It is now for sure you won’t be without a friend and cohort, and I can pretty much guarantee you that your revival won’t take place unless you have a use.
Finally, I can tell you for a fact that the best use you have is continue living and growing and telling stories. At our core, we humans are ‘store creatures,’ and we will remain so as long we *are* human. It goes without saying that story creatures need storytellers; your job is thus secure.

August 2, 2011, 11:47 pm

To which Fred replied:

Declining Immortality Twice

Mike Darwin’s response to my piece on the loss of that very good man, Bob Ettinger, caught me completely unaware. I am grateful to you for repeating the offer of a free freeze, Mike, just as I am grateful to the people who sometimes tell me that they’re going to pray for me. Even though I can’t accept your offer, it’s a kind thought.

Let me quote from a poem that was written long ago by John Dryden, in an attempt to sum up the teachings on this subject of the even longer ago Roman philosopher Lucretius. The last six lines say it all, but I’ll give you the whole thing. It goes like this:

So, when our mortal forms shall be disjoin’d.
The lifeless lump uncoupled from the mind,
From sense of grief and pain we shall be free,
We shall not feel, because we shall not be.

Though earth in seas, and seas in heaven were lost
We should not move, we should only be toss’d.
Nay, e’en suppose when we have suffer’d fate
The soul should feel in her divided state,
What’s that to us? For we are only we
While souls and bodies in one frame agree.

Nay, though our atoms should revolve by chance,
And matter leap into the former dance,
Though time our life and motion should restore.
And make our bodies what they were before,
What gain to us would all this bustle bring?
The new-made man would be another thing.

But I do appreciate the offer.

This entry was posted on September 9, 2011 at 12:30 am at

Fred Pohl may be the first man in the history of the world to have declined a shot at immortality not once, but twice! I would argue that the really amazing thing about Pussyfoot is not just that Pohl got the technology of the Joymaker right, but that he also got the biotechnology of the future more or less right – granted in no small measure due to that “good man” and good friend of his, Bob Ettinger.  Fred Pohl knew a sound and reasonable idea when he saw one , biological or otherwise,  and 50 years later cryonics has endured and the biological basis for it has grown steadily better. Lucky patients cryopreserved with little or no ischemia, using the best available vitrification techniques today, will have intact connectomes and minimal neuronal molecular damage. Such fortunate patients will suffer virtually no freezing damage.

Above: The Connectome.

 Any yet, Pohl is having none of it.

Right: Viktor Frankel.

I used to find this a mystery. To be surprised by it. To marvel at it. However, that time has long past. The first insight that offered a partial answer to that mystery came from Viktor Frankel’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning.  Frankel noted that there were two basic types of people in the concentration camps – those who drew their sense of identity and purpose from their social/societal position; husband, father, lawyer, doctor, mother, grandmother… and those who drew it from some other source, independent of their social context, or how they were labeled. For some, the origin of that sense of identity was religious, for others, it existed independent of any institutional or religious thoughts or beliefs. Those few people saw themselves as unique and worthwhile individuals deserving of and entitled to life and survival at all costs, independent of any external factors or forces.

Much later I realized that another component in the will to survive that is often material in making the choice for cryonics is the yearning to be transcendent. It is not enough to be able to see the future with accuracy and precision, it is necessary to yearn to be it. To quote Nietzsche:

 ”I teach you the overman. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him? … All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood, and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is ape to man? A laughing stock or painful embarrassment. And man shall be that to overman: a laughingstock or painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape…. The overman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth…. Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman—a rope over an abyss … what is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end.”

H. G. Wells said it far more beautifully:

“We look back through countless millions of years and see the great will to live struggling out of the intertidal slime, struggling from shape to shape and from power to power, crawling and then walking confidently upon the land, struggling generation after generation to master the air, creeping down the darkness of the deep; we see it turn upon itself in rage and hunger and reshape itself anew, we watch it draw nearer and more akin to us, expanding, elaborating itself, pursuing its relentless inconceivable purpose, until at last it reaches us and its being beats through our brains and arteries…It is possible to believe that all the past is but the beginning of a beginning, and that all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn. It is possible to believe that all that the human mind has accomplished is but the dream before the awakening; out of our lineage, minds will spring that will reach back to us in our littleness to know us better than we know ourselves. A day will come, one day in the unending succession of days, when beings, beings who are now latent in our thoughts and hidden in our loins, shall stand upon this earth as one stands upon a footstool, and shall laugh and reach out their hands amidst the stars.”

But Wells spoke of not of achieving that greatness personally, but rather of the species achieving it  – of our descendants achieving it.

To want it, to need it, to ache for it personally – that is a rare thing. It is the motive force that has driven biological evolution – and it is the motive force that has driven every human innovation and every human conquest – for good or evil.

Recently, a friend of mine asked, in wonder, why I was preparing for the contingency that technological civilization might collapse. “There would be no cryonics if that happened.” he noted, correctly.

“Yes, I know.” I replied.

“And it would be really horrible. A terrible, terrible undoing of the world.” he added.

“Yes, yes it would.” I agreed.

“Then why on earth would you want to be around to see that?”

“I can’t imagine missing the last act! I mean, honestly, I’ve had the chance to read up on all that happened before, I’ve trotted all over the planet, read the thoughts of the best minds of every known culture and civilization, and you propose I should wimp out and miss the denouement? I’m plenty savvy enough to keep redundant assets for a quick and painless exit at should I find myself in unbearable agony and no hope of survival. However, absent that, I can’t even conceive of betraying the intense curiosity I’d have about any apocalypse, even if my own survival were impossible.”

Frankel comes close to summing up my feelings on this matter when he says:  ”Man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips.” There is an implied qualification not present in Frankel’s quote:  “Man at his best is that…” The cryonicist is thus that being who chooses life, inquiry, knowledge and understanding of the universe as his personal and moral imperatives. He chooses to feel and to be these things – not just to think about them, or talk about them. He chooses action over contemplation, life over death.

The origins of that choice? Well, that is still a mystery, but one which, in the fullness of time, may we may hope to unravel.

This entry was posted in Cryonics Biography, Cryonics History, Cryonics Philosophy, Culture & Propaganda, Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Three Strikes and You’re Out!

  1. Mark Plus says:

    “It’s often been noted that none of the Golden Age of Science Fiction writers like Heinlein, Clarke, or Asimov predicted the PC, let alone the laptop.”

    Murray Leinster foresaw the PC, the internet, search engines and problem solving AI’s in 1946:

    A Logic Named Joe

    • chronopause says:

      Thanks for the heads up, Mark. I read a lot of Murray Leinster, back in the day. The cache of books that turned me onto SF contained a number of Leinster novels, and in fact, the book that first got me excited about suspended animation, E. C. Tubb’s THE MECHANICAL MONARCH was an ACE Double. The other half of the book was a novel by Leinster titled TWICE UPON A TIME! I’m re-reading THE MECHANICAL MONARCH now and may scan it into a PDF. It is an extraordinarily prescient novel in so many ways… — Mike Darwin

    • Eugen Leitl says:

      A lot of early pioneers are now long forgotten. E.g. Vannvar Bush conceptualized a precursor of the hypertext (Memex).

      There are some space operas from 1920/30s which clearly spell out the whole concept of Singularity (sequence of machines building next generation of machines in a runaway progression), and the end of Man.

  2. Alexander says:

    Thanks for the Fred Pohl’s excerpt about Joymakers, I now know what to name my next iPhone.

    More seriously, I’ve been reading your content over the past few days. While they made me depressed and pensive, they does provide a refreshing hard dose of reality about the state of cryonics and what still needs to be done.

    I was actually guided to here a year ago from by an off chance remark by one of the posters there.

    Would you be interested in promoting your posts on LessWrong and other rationality/life extension oriented sites(assuming you’re not already doing it)? It’ll give you a lot more exposure and build up your blog readership, break budding cryonicists out of their complacity with the status quo. Most of what I knew was straight from Alcor’s materials, I had little exposure to alternative and more nuanced analyses of cryonics till now. Most of the other cryonicists of my generation are in the same shoes.

    May I as you a question? Have you given up on cryonics altogether for yourself?

    • chronopause says:

      Alexander, thank you for your refreshing letter showing that you “get it;” you are one of the very few who do. I have no objection to you promoting Chronosphere on LessWrong and would strongly encourage you to do so. But my guess is that you will find it an unrewarding, and possibly punishing exercise. Some months ago, another LessWronger with a very fine mind, who uses the handle “gwern,” tried the same thing. And, in fact, I have posted a few things there myself. at his behest

      I’m not being trite when I say that people do NOT like reality. Television, books, magazine articles, movies, pornography, music, dining out, in short almost all of what people enjoy and choose to spend their timer doing, are FANTASY of one sort or another. Books on mechanical engineering, polymer chemistry or psychodynamics are not going to make the best seller list, and needlepoint or bricklaying are unlikely to become popular pastimes anytime soon. Life is scary and hard, in fact, it is absolutely terrifying if looked at objectively, and things like cryonics and religion ostensibly exist to REDUCE that terror and to make to life (and death) more bearable.

      For that to work, there has to be a happy sense of optimism and trust that everything is going to work out just fine. This makes sense, and, arguably, is even necessary, because the alternative would be that everyone who chose cryonics would have to more than a customer – they would have be involved – at least to some extent – as an activist. That’s asking an awful lot. But most of all, it is asking that people who opt for cryonics give up the comfort of the fantasy that they can be customers, buy the product, pay their money every month or every quarter, and that they will then be taken care of when the need arises. It means that they will have to do two exceedingly difficult and uncomfortable things:

      1) Confront and understand the reality of the the many shortcomings and uncertainties of contemporary cryonics and live with them.

      2) Work industriously, creatively and continuously to overcome those shortcomings.

      It is very, very hard to create and sustain an organization and a community where the above two dictums are practiced. It is not only hard for the community members, it is hard for the community leaders. In fact, I would say it is far harder for the leaders. Such a paradigm requires great energy, creativity, and above all, great interaction and energetic leadership. It’s easier and more convenient to operate on a 9 to 5 basis and service customers to whatever minimum level the market will accept; and this is exactly what has happened.

      So, if you expect to see cryonics organizations to have validated the quality of their brain cryopreservation technology under a wide variety of real world conditions, you will be disappointed. If you expect to see contingency planning for serious, inevitable near-term existential risks, such as pandemic disease, you will also be disappointed. Similarly, if you expect to see technologies in place to mitigate post-cardiac arrest normothermic ischemic injury, more accurately predict when a patient will experience cardiac arrest (i.e., is truly terminal),experience less cold ischemic injury, or be better protected from outside attack, again, you will be disappointed.

      This problem is by no means confined to cryonics. Medicine struggles with this too, and much of medicine is more ritual than science. You can see this in the oft shifting pronouncements about drugs, diagnostic procedures, and supplements. In recent years, a corrective movement has arisen called Evidence Based Medicine… Ritual is reassuring, and it is both profitable and easy. Certainly it is easier than the hard business of living with and constantly working to remedy uncertainty.

      Because cryonics involves coping with death – one of the most terrifying aspects of life – once people have bought into it and accepted it as it is, they are highly resistant to any challenges to that decision. This resistance becomes amplified by many orders of magnitude if a close friend or loved one is cryopreserved with their chosen cryonics organization. At that point, abandonment issues enter the picture. And, to be frank, laziness and exhaustion are a big part of the picture as well. It is simply easier to presume that things will get better and that it will all work out. Both Alcor and CI have been around for ~40 years. That’s an impressive period of time. Why not another 40 years, and another 40 years after that?

      LessWrong is structured around the rational cognition of Elizer Yudkowsky and his colleagues. They posit that they have a better (i.e., more rational, more functional) way of decision making and of living their lives. They also advocate being signed up for cryonics, and in particular making cryonics arrangements with Alcor. I don’t dispute that this a better and more rational choice than having no cryonics arrangements. I would say that this is necessary, but not sufficient. Or in other words, a small, but wholly inadequate step in the right direction. More generally, I would say that LessWrong suffers from the same sort of deficiency that cryonics does. The world is clearly racing towards catastrophe on many fronts. In some areas these catastrophes are not due to any kind of bad “active” decision making by humans. For instance, any competent epidemiologist at the CDC or WHO can give you fairly precise odds of when the next global pandemic will occur with a mortality of 30% to 50% of the population. No expert in this area voice any doubt that such an outbreak will occur. It is not a question of if, but of when. It is also clearly the case that the general population will not be prepared and that vast numbers of people will die, including some you reading this. It is also clear that most or all cryonics patients will be lost in any such pandemic.

      My point is, that if “immortalism,” which includes both radical life extension and cryonics, is to have any material chance of working, a far higher degree of cohesion, activism, planning and commitment are required, Pandemic disease is just one example. Crazy behavior in a multitude of forms is another – and it is arguably more prevalent, more virulent and more of an immediate threat.

      So, my guess is that most of the other cryonicists of your generation will prove singularly uninterested in my message and that they will not want to do anything – and indeed, that most have not even signed up for cryonics! I sincerely hope you prove me wrong!

      As to your last question, by no means have I given up on cryonics, nor will I ever, within reason. As long as it is at all practical to be biopreserved, it makes sense to do so. No matter how small the odds, some chance is better than no chance at all. I am signed up with Alcor for now. — Mike Darwin

      • Mitchell Porter says:

        “any competent epidemiologist at the CDC or WHO can give you fairly precise odds of when the next global pandemic will occur with a mortality of 30% to 50% of the population.”

        Oh please. Even something that kills *ten million people* doesn’t make the 1% mark. The odds of something natural that kills a third or a half of the world are zero.

        • Eugen Leitl says:

          Consider Black Death in the age of aviation, or just some strains of influenza with estimated death rate approaching 50%.

          Just because it didn’t happen on our watch yet it doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

          P.S. Hi Mitch.

      • Mark Plus says:

        “I’m not being trite when I say that people do NOT like reality. Television, books, magazine articles, movies, pornography, music, dining out, in short almost all of what people enjoy and choose to spend their timer doing, are FANTASY of one sort or another. ”

        At least when you dine out, you get real food on your plate.

        I think the Saulsoleum in Texas has a large fantasy component as well, or at least it involves some deception. From what I’ve read about it on the San Antonio newspaper’s website, it looks like a Potemkin project to shelter wealth from taxation.

      • Mark Plus says:

        It seems to me that the cryonics movement has had largely fantasy conferences for years, with the recurring theater about how Nanotechnology will solve all our problems and the like.

        I’d like for Alcor’s conference in October to talk about reality for once. For example, I’d would pay to attend this conference just to hear Sebastian Seung or another real neuroscientist talk about connectome research and what it means for the cryopreservation of the human brain. I’d also like to hear a geneticist talk about the field of personal genomics and what it has revealed about your risks for dementia and other pathologies of aging.

        Otherwise I’d just give this conference a pass and save my money.

  3. Shannon Vyff says:

    Pretty strange to see someone actually refuse free suspension, I don’t fully understand it -the romanticized, poetic reasons pale in comparison to the logic of “some chance is better than no chance.” If cryonics did work, you’d think the person would like to continue to critique, praise or appreciate society–although they could opt out if they wish.

    I agree that strong belief in Singularity can cause some to not sign up for cryonics, that also does not make sense. The more people that sign up, the stronger the existing companies can be now–they have to be strong to be around when people need them later, not to mention accidents can happen to the young at any time.

    Your blog is interesting as always and refreshingly clear-headed honesty. –Shannon Vyff

  4. cath says:

    Mark… exactly what you say about Nanotechnology solving all our problems as opposed to nanotechnology (small “n”) was the issue that Thomas Donaldson was concerned about (and I was and still am). We saw it taking over the technical debates, with time and energy sapped from the grit of biological and biochemical research, and how much more progress has taken place in these latter humdrum fields in the last two decades compared with nanotechnology! There was a lot of career building going on at the expense of advancing cryonics. I’m with you on the focus of the next conference, even if I can’t make it there.

    • Mark Plus says:


      I respect Thomas a great deal, I’ve learned a lot from his writings, and I would like to see many of them gathered and republished. They seem to have aged well because Thomas didn’t fall into the “singularity” delusion, and he assumed that we would make incremental progress and still have problems to solve in the coming centuries. He comes across as one of the voices of adulthood in cryonics literature, compared with a lot of the adolescent-sounding foolishness which has dominated cryonics discussions in the past 30 years.

      For example, Thomas wrote that people in the 24th Century could arrest and have to go into some kind of suspension because the health care of that century wouldn’t know how to treat them, but that the health care of the 26th Century could do the job.

      How often do you hear today’s “singularitarians” say anything like that? Instead they apparently believe that some time in this very century, BANG!, they’ll upload into computers and “live forever,” whatever that means, without any problems.

      Thomas struggled with the implications of what it would mean to live a really, really long time, and while none of us really know, he applied somewhat more rational thinking to the challenge than we usually see. If I ever find myself in a position to help with Thomas’s resuscitation from cryostasis, I would do so without hesitation because of my high regard for him.

      • Abelard Lindsey says:

        Thomas Donaldson had a background in biochemistry and chemical engineering. This is why he understood the technical issues involved in developing nanotechnology, more than most in the milieu. Most fundamentally, he believed (as I do) that nanotechnology had to be based on solution-phase chemistry rather than the hypothesized “mechano-chemistry” occurring in high-vacuum environment. All of the research since then has been such, often under different labels such as synthetic biology, bio-engineering, or just plain biotechnology. I prefer the term bionano myself.

        Indeed, real nanobots ARE being developed – and they are all built out of DNA and RNA. Here’s one for you:

        It is this kind of stuff that will become the real nanotechnology in the coming decades. The key is for the laboratory equipment and process technology to become cheap enough so that those of us who do not have millions of dollars for capital investment can develop this stuff on our own.

        • Mark Plus says:

          I don’t see what it accomplishes to call an engineered macromolecule based on nucleic acids a “nanobot,” especially when Drexler et al. have made the idea of “nanotechnology” toxic through their self-promotion (or “career building,” as Cath phrases it) over the past 30 years without showing progress towards delivering the goods. Again I draw the contrast with what the genomicists have accomplished over the same time period. They have real things to show for their efforts, and I’d like one of them to speak at the next Alcor conference about personal genomics.

          In the age of Google, many people who bother to research our literature versus the empirical evidence, or who bother to talk to the cryonicists who have drunk the transhumanist Kool Aid, can tell that the cryonics movement has pinned it hopes on something which looks increasingly dubious. For example, years ago I heard that an Alcor employee in the early 1990′s told a reporter that Nanotechnology would come along in 20 years (namely, by right about now) and revive the patients! I wonder if an audio or video recording of this conversation exists somewhere.

          In fact I submit that the people who signed up for cryonics because of Drexler’s vision may have done so for bad reasons. It doesn’t mean that more valid reasons don’t exist, however.

          • Fundie says:

            Mark, I seem to remember that Robert Ettinger’s response to your position was something along the lines of “Nanotechology, or something like it, will certainly be required for revival.”

            It seems to me that some are taking a broader definition of nanotechnology than you are. Some would refer to the feats of bioengineering as “nanotechnology.” Are you basically contending that we shouldn’t call it that because it will associate it with a sinking ship, Drexlerian nanotechnology? Because to me it’s just a matter of classification and whether both are two categories of the same thing or not, and how you name them. That gets us into the realm of marketing more than anything.

          • Abelard Lindsey says:

            I’m not the one calling it a nanobot. Its the American Chemical Society, which is a relatively staid professional society of chemists and chemical engineers. In any case, it does fit the description of a robot as defined in the article.

            For example, years ago I heard that an Alcor employee in the early 1990′s told a reporter that Nanotechnology would come along in 20 years (namely, by right about now) and revive the patients!

            Obviously I never heard this at all. All the people I knew in Alcor in the late 80′s talked about reanimation being done around 2100, assuming decent preservation fidelity. However, I do remember the silliness over Drexler’s nanotechnology concepts at the time. Thomas Donaldson was a good antidote to much of it.

            BTW, it is worth noting that Donaldson believed that all of the expected capabilities of Drexler’s concept of nanotechnology could be achieved through that based on solution-phase chemistry, if not the same time-scale. I think this is correct.

          • Eugen Leitl says:

            It is not a nanobot. It’s an incremental improvement on targeted drug delivery. There’s no powered propulsion, navigation, onboard processing and so on.

            If Donaldson believed that solvated polymer self-assembly molecular machine capabilities were equivalent to machine-phase capabilities he was mistaken.

            However, above self-assembled molecular systems are absolutely required for the bootstrap of machine-phase.

          • Eugen Leitl says:

            It is not a nanobot, it’s an incremental improvement on targeted drug delivery using folded DNA compartments.

            You’re comparing genomics, a mature science, with molecular manufacturing which is some 40-50 years away from where genomics is now. If you expected mature capabilities by now you did not have a good model of the problem space.

            The field you’re now calling connectomics is also hardly recent and equally remote from production as machine-phase is now.

        • Eugen Leitl says:

          Not a nanobot, incremental improvement on targeted drug delivery. Let’s avoid inflationary use, please.

      • cath says:

        Mike, I’m commenting on this on Less Wrong too. Alcor owns the copyright to Thomas’ published writings. Via Mike Perry several months ago I approached the Alcor Board to allow me to do just this, and Aschwin has kindly offered to set up a site dedicated to Thomas’ writings. I have had no response (see my posting on the postings comparing Alcor and CI on Less Wrong) regarding Alcor’s DNR (Do Not Respond) “policy”.

        I agree his intellectual first life cycle should continue. I intend to start regardless. I am getting VERY ANNOYED with the lack of response, and in paranoid fashion am starting to wonder whether Board members are suppressing the re-publication of some of his writings in the way a number of his articles critical of Nanotechnology were refused publication by Ralph Merkle as Board member prior to his suspension. Apologies for the tardiness of this response, but I am giving Alcor board time to respond. I do not intend to “nag” them. One request is enough. I am a very busy person like most people, and wasting my time is WASTING MY LIFE.

        • chronopause says:

          Cath, this comment merits an extensive response and one which probably won’t fully “fit” here in the comments section (though I will try). Your coining the term “DO NOT RESPOND (DNR),” to describe Alcor’s (lack of) response to substantive queries is brilliant; if you only knew the full extent of it! This appears to be mostly a Max More phenomenon – though it predates his tenure – it has just become extreme since he took office. Since he became CEO DNR has become the primary mechanism of response to a range of queries or problems which, for whatever reason, Alcor or Max does not wish to deal with. I will tell you an interesting aspect to this phenomenon, and that is that whilst the DNR is often the de facto way such PRIVATE queries are handled, when the same queries are framed publicly in such a way to cause potential embarrassment for Max personally (or less so, to Alcor), you will often get an immediate response. Said response may well take the form of, “Don’t you know we are busy people doing important things (implied: saving the world & cryopreserving the desperately dying)? Why are you so (unreasonably) inpatient? You must understand we are shorthanded and that our 8 or 9 staff are working tirelessly to save your life! Calm down, act responsibly, and be patient, as would any other (normal) Alcor Member (or sane human being).

          Of course, a normal person would expect that a normal business of any kind would respond to ALL communications within a day or two of their receipt, if nothing else with a “form letter,” saying, something like, “Dear ______, We have received your communication of ______, 2012 and want to let you know that we are giving it every consideration. We hope to have a response to you by ______, 2012. If for some reason we fail to get back with you by the date listed, please feel free to call Ms./Mr. _______ at _________, ext _______ for additional information and assistance.” I didn’t make up this “form letter”: it is a communication I received recently after writing to a “mom and pop” (2 person) business on Amazon that sells used & remaindered books for pennies on the dollar. They subsequently called me to answer my question – and I was not yet even a customer!

          Consider the following exchange between Alcor and me. The context here is that I am functioning as scientific journalist making what I believe most people would consider to be a reasonable request for information for a public article aimed at saving Alcor members’ lives. Unlike most journalists, I’m willing to share the context I want to use the requested data in, and go so far as to provide other (presumably) useful data, gratis.

          I make my first request on 3/28/2012 for basic demographic data on ~ 20 Alcor patients which is missing from the on-line list maintained by Alcor . All I want to know is how these 20 people deanimated – specifically, how many deanimated as a result of a likely or potentially preventable cause, such as a heart attack, ruptured aneurysm, or other occult disease that could have been detected by medical imaging, such as a full body or head scan, if such a test were carried out prophylactically before medico-legal death occurred.

          I got an initial prompt response, including an offer by Dr. Mike Perry, which was sent on 3/29/2012, to review the death certificates of the ~ 20 patients and get me the data. That is the last I hear from anyone at Alcor. I proceed to publish the article minus the data from the ~ 20 patients I needed to determine if the subgroup of Alcor cryopreservation patients are indeed experiencing significantly higher “mortality” from sudden and unexpected death than are a similar (age adjusted) cohort of the general population. One hypothesis I have for why this MIGHT be so, is that it MAY be the case that the skewed demographic of cryonicists towards males may account for this phenomenon, providing that it is real. Males have a much higher incidence of sudden and unexpected death than do females….

          I rearranged the structure of the article contents to delay publication of the section that contained the data I needed until 4/12/2012. This is fully 2-weeks after I made my first request, and after Dr. Perry responded.

          When, on 6/16/2012, I mention is passing (publicly) on Cryonet that I never received the requested data (or heard from Alcor as to when it might arrive (beyond Dr. Perry’s offer on 12 April)), I get this public response from Max More:

          “That was a few days ago. Work in being done on this. Patience, frantic one. You’re not the only one interested in the results.”

          This response coming as it did 18-days after my first request! It is now 04 May, well over a month later – still nor data, but more importantly, no response, update, communication or “howdy do” from Alcor… The complete email traffic is reproduced below:
          Sent: 3/29/2012 12:06:55 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
          Subj: Re: Questions about causes of death

          This is a worthy project, but I will be unable to assist with it earlier than next week. Aaron is away for a week caring for an ailing family member. Diane could gather some of this information.


          On Wednesday, March 28, 2012, wrote:

          > Hello All,
          > I’m trying to finish up an article on a recent technological advance which I believe could greatly reduce the number of cryonicists who experience sudden, or unexpected cardiac arrest (deanimation). A critical part of my argument is to document the prevalence of this phenomenon in a real cryonics population as it impacts access to high quality (minimal ischemia) cryonics care. That necessarily means that I cannot use CI as a real world example, since they do not offer standby or otherwise take steps to minimize post cardiac arrest ischemic time.
          > I have reviewed the complete list of Alcor cases available on line and made a crude table, using my own judgment, which will suffice for this article. However, I’ve run into a problem which concerns me and which prompted me to write in the hope that one or more of you might be able to help me fill in the blanks.
          > The causes of cardiac arrest are listed for all Alcor patients except for these:
          > A-1670, A-2077, A-1398, A-2264, A-1411, A-1889, A-1194, A-1951, A-1949, A-1891, A-1300, A-1756, A-1894, A-1502, A-1216, A-1261 A-1753, A-1743, A-1457, A-1755
          > I do not need specific information for each case number (if that would present a problem). All I need is a determination for each of the above as to whether the cause of cardiac arrest was sudden and unexpected or not, and due to natural causes. In other words, members who arrested not as a result of suicide, accident or homicide unless such an unnatural arrest was the direct result of a previously unknown medical catastrophe, such a heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, brain tumor, etc.
          > I know that you are all very busy and I also know that you may be unable to help me. If so, that is certainly understandable. The graph above shows what my data set currently looks like excluding the patients that I’ve asked for you assistance with. Even in this crude state, filtered solely by own (limited) judgement, I think it is easy to see why so many people feel an unspoken sense of discouragement about signing up for cryonics. The black wedge of the pie represents patients who have suffered autopsy or very long ischemic times and who, at least in my opinion, regardless of any prophylactic technology now available, or soon foreseeable could not have received better care. These are people who suffered accidents, suicides, homicides and the like. The yellow wedge consists of “borderline cases” that technology might have helped. However, that large red wedge, which is arguably a third of the pie, consists of people who suffered long ischemic intervals who very well might not have had to.
          > The problem is that I’m missing 20 patients from my data set and that’s quite a lot. I’d rather not have my conclusions based on data that is badly skewed, so I’d much appreciate your help if it is possible.
          > Finally, a tool that I think will be of incredible importance to cryonics, both now and in the future, is to create a comprehensive actuarial database of all patients (and members too) so that it is possible to interrogate that database for information like that above, as well as for myriad other questions such as, for example:
          > How long do Alcor members live? What is their mean age at cryopreservation? What is the mean weight of a cryopreservation patient at the time they arrest? What is the incidence of type II diabetes amongst cryopreservation patients, amongst Alcor members? What is the incidence of dementia in cryopreservation patients?
          > I realize that this must seem an overwhelming task, but in fact, much of this information is already collected and present on the patents’ death certificates. What is needed is for a staff member or trusted and vetted volunteer to enter it into Excel, or another interrogatable database
          > At any rate, thank you for your time and attention. Should you be unable to assist me, please, simply send an email letting me know.
          > Thanks again.
          > Mike Darwin

          Sent: 3/29/2012 12:37:11 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
          Subj: Re: Questions about causes of death

          Thank you. I will take what you can give me. I will probably proceed to post the article as soon as it is finished. I can then go back and adjust the data and the conclusions as necessary. I think the ratios will remain about the same between the groups, but with the sample sizes so small, it is hard to be sure, and I’ve been burned badly before.
          You might find these data interesting (although I think they are badly presented):

          This is the autopsy rate in the US between 1972 and 2005 – the bottom black line is the total % of all deaths, which was 8.5%. About half of that 8.5% was due to diseases, and thus, in theory, should be preventable by properly conducted routine medical imagining. The (to me) confusing blue and green lines are the fraction of total autopsies conducted for the stated reasons – external causes being suicide, accident and homicide.

          Mike Darwin

          Sent: 3/29/2012 10:37:50 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
          Subj: Re: Questions about causes of death

          I could check death certificates. Sunday would be a good day for doing this for me, if Diane hasn’t already gotten the information.


          Sent: 3/29/2012 2:55:34 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
          Subj: Re: Questions about causes of death
          That would be good. Thanks, Mike.

          Please be sure to copy me on whatever information you dig up.


          Sent: 3/29/2012 1:33:28 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
          Subj: Re: Questions about causes of death

          Great! That would be fantastic. Thanks

          Mike Darwin

          Sent: 4/16/2012 10:04:24 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
          Subj: Re: [New_Cryonet] narrowcasting 4 nerds whilst whalehunting

          Mike Darwin wrote:

          “I made a request of Alcor to provide me with the causes and modes of death on the 20 patients for which it is not specified on their master list of all Alcor patients. Mike Perry responded that he would try to do this by reviewing the death certificates of those patients. That was the last I heard.”

          That was a few days ago. Work in being done on this. Patience, frantic one. You’re not the only one interested in the results.

          A more detailed and informative database of Alcor patients is a worthy cause. When I came on board, I was surprised by the extremely limited functionality of the database. Since then, we’ve had our IT company improve it. Further refinements are likely.

          It can be challenging to get members to send us their medical records. Getting access to them post-mortem (by current criteria) can present additional challenges. Some of the demographic details you mention should be easier to uncover and record. One that especially concerns me is the size and weight of Alcor members. Given the disturbing trend towards morbid obesity (as so effectively and repulsively illustrated by your post on people in motorized carts — and in the distressing plausible future of Wall-E), I’d like to better anticipate the need for extra-large pods and the resultant higher storage costs for oversize whole body patients.


          On Mon, Apr 16, 2012 at 3:00 PM, wrote:

          If you do the math you can figure that out, roughly, for yourself by looking at the month to month dropouts, reinstatements and new members.
          However, you raise a point which I was at pains to discuss in Part 2 of my “Much Less Than Half a Chance” article and that is, namely, that apparently NONE of the cryonics organizations maintains any comprehensive statistical database of any kind:

          “To do that, it is first necessary to move beyond anyone’s scenarios or suppositions and evaluate the reality of what is actually happening to the patients we cryopreserve. That turns out to be a hard thing to determine with any degree of precision, because none of the cryonics organizations maintain any kind of statistical database on their members’ cryopreservations. How many cryopatients have dementia? How many were autopsied? What is the mean ischemic time from cardiac arrest to the start of cardiopulmonary support (CPS)? How many patients have ischemic times of 2-5 minutes, 5-10 minutes, 15-30 minutes, 12 hours, 14 hours, 5 days? What is the mean age at cryopreservation? [Absence of data on this last question I find particularly amusing in a group of people supposedly preoccupied with longevity and "life extension": how long are they living, on average?] There is currently no way to tell.

          There is not even any way to determine the age, gender, or any of dozens of other potentially critically important demographic details that are, or could be vital in assuring quality cryopreservations, reducing ischemic times, or reducing known iatrogenenic events. A concern of mine for onto three decades now is that we have no way to spot adverse epidemiological events that might be associated with our unique dietary supplement or other lifestyle practices. Perhaps most incredibly, there are no written criteria, however arbitrary, to assign any degree of quality, or lack thereof, to the cryopreservation a given patient has received (let alone that a given Cryonics Organization (CO) provides, on average). This had lead to what has become known as “the last one is always the best one” to date rating system, wherein each case that is not either an existential or an iatrogenic disaster, is pronounced by the staff who carried it out as, “the best case we’ve done so far!”
          We cryonicists may be in some kind of willful, data free fog about what our situation is, however, it’s a safe bet to assume that most of the rest of the world, based on their own professional and personal experiences, are not so ignorant. The first step towards a solution is to understand the scope and severity of the problem by getting reliable numbers. While that is not easy to do, the Alcor Life Extension Foundation does maintain a crude, if incomplete accounting of all the patients they have placed into cryopreservation: A cursory analysis of this yields the following breakdown. Even basic data such as cause and mode of death are missing from ~20 of the cases listed there – these have necessarily been excluded from the analysis below.”

          I made a request of Alcor to provide me with the causes and modes of death on the 20 patients for which it is not specified on their master list of all Alcor patients. Mike Perry responded that he would try to do this by reviewing the death certificates of those patients. That was the last I heard. I’d still very much like to get this data (I don’t need to know which cause and mode goes with which Alcor ID number – just the data is fine).

          No viable organization fails to gather and track this kind of demographic data – not just about patients, but about members – how long they remain members, why they leave, what percentage get cryopreserved from a given cohort (and how), what the age distribution is, how they were recruited, and on and on. That information is 24 karat gold and it was my bread and butter when I was President and even when I was a Director. This is the kind of information I review almost weekly on Chronosphere in terms of number of RSS feed subscribers, number of visitors, past posts accessed, URLs clicked, referrers, and so on.

          One thing I noticed in doing the stats with the available data is that Alcor patients have a higher than average incidence of sudden and unexpected death for the subgroup of the general population they represent (white, highly educated, middle to upper class). Without the missing data on the 20 patients, it is impossible to tell if this observation is valid, or if my speculation about the cause is valid – namely that a disproportionate number of patients (and cryonicists) are MALE, and males have a much higher incidence of sudden & unexpected death than do females – heart attacks, stroke, accident, homicide and suicide are higher in males.

          So, go figure. This kind of data is also absolutely critical to warn you of dangerously unbalanced demographics in terms of age, ideology, disease burden, and so on. As a hypothetical example, if 30% of your members are male homosexuals and AIDS happens, that’s information you really need to know as soon as possible. Ditto if you have say, 100 members living in Hong Kong, and SARS breaks out.

          So, there is nothing “sinister” about Alcor not disclosing that information. The simplest answer was the likely correct one: they probably don’t have it!

          Mike Darwin
          Of course, this was an unsolicited inquiry, and, as such, it might be argued that a letter from a critical crank (like me) who is “always” “attacking” Alcor merits no quick response; and certainly no TLC in terms of updates. Fair enough, I suppose.

          But consider this exchange:


          Sent: 4/14/2012 1:07:31 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
          Subj: Re: Progress with your insurance policy?
          In a message dated 4/14/2012 12:23:17 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

          You (MIKE DARWIN) said:

          “I think it is very important that when a member does not have coverage that that be made clear every step of the process that the condition persists.”

          MAX MORE: Yes, absolutely. I would think that it would be clear that if a member’s sole method of funding is through life insurance, and that policy is not currently regarded as funded by the insurance company, that the member would understand that they are not covered by Alcor. In practice, the situation can be more complex and unclear. If you have specific suggestions on how to clarify this to members, please tell us.

          DIANE: Next week, let’s talk about this, and make sure we are as clear as possible to members about the status of their coverage.

          MIKE DARWIN: Here are my thoughts, for what they are worth:

          1) You need a clear, pleasant and uniform way to inform the member that his coverage is still in abeyance. Maybe stating up front, in fire engine red lettering, that all communications will have a “current status line” or box which tells the member where he is currently “at,” and which also informs him of how and when he will be informed that his coverage is restored. I think it would be nice to offer the member an option of a prompt, personal phone call to notify him of re-instatement of coverage.

          Email is just a mess for many, if not most people these days. It is easy to miss a message, or to accidentally delete one while culling spam, or messages that you just don’t want to deal with…

          I don’t know if most members in my position care sufficiently to want have a POSSIBLE timeline to re-instatement? But I think you can see how even someone well acquainted with cryonics could be completely at sea as to how long it will take to get coverage back. There’s a huge difference between 10 days and 3 months, for instance, just to pick an example out of the air.

          2) I don’t think you should be billing the members for CMS if he doesn’t have coverage. That’s not only not just, it is very confusing. If I start getting invoices for CMS, then I think it is reasonable to assume that I’m covered.

          Also, for someone like me, $180/quarter is a lot of money. There’s no way I can communicate how much money that is to me. All I can say is that when you fall below a certain economic minimum and you have, fixed, vital expenses, you experience a degree of financial inflexibility and personal inflexibility that is just impossible to understand unless you’ve experienced it.

          Being young and poor is completely different than being older, or old and poor. My not covered Rx bills are over $150/mo. I can’t just decide I’m not going to take my meds because I’m running tight on money. And I clearly need to keep my mobility, which means vehicle associated expenses. So, it’s much different than when I was young and I could let things like health insurance slide, and when I didn’t have “anchoring” assets, which also require recurring funding. Finally, I can’t increase my income, which is something young people have the option of doing. And the situation is just going to get worse and less flexible with time.

          Mike Darwin

          The material difference here is that I was specifically asked to provide input on how to possibly decrease confusion and increase clarity of members’ status who have cryopreservation arrangements in abeyance. Now, it is quite possible that these suggestions were not useful, or were even considered superfluous or ridiculous. However, that is irrelevant to good, commonsense business dealings. When anyone takes the time to provide REQUESTED feedback, then that merits a prompt (most would say immediate) pro forma communication saying something like, “Hi _____, just a note to let you know we got your suggestions and will be evaluating them. Thank you for taking the time to write down your thoughts on this matter. Sincerely ______, Alcor Life Extension Foundation.

          I made as many inquiries in the community as I know how to, and this lack of responsiveness is apparently either not uncommon, or routine. [I have formulated several Survey Monkey surveys, but am not sure how to get them to the necessary demographic.] While you can indeed run a business that way, you can only do so if you are a utility, a company town (store), or some other kind of monopoly. Members, clients or customers don’t generally like being treated that way. Just as you migrated to CI because of their human attentiveness, so too have a number of other Alcor members (I know this first hand). I will also say that Any Zawacki is a very nice and decent person who has gone out of his way to be helpful to me at considerable personal cost; and with nothing to show for it. Since I have been critical of CI, that speaks volumes about the kind of (quality) person that Any is. And, to be clear, Ben Best has almost always been fair; and has always been responsive and forthright in his dealings with me, despite having received harsh criticism from me. Again, this speaks very positively about Ben’s ability to compartmentalize his feelings and behave professionally, even when it may be difficult for him to do so.

          I will, of necessity, shortly have much more to say about Alcor’s DNR policy. However, I expect it will do no good, based on past experience. This is as much the cryonics community’s fault as it is Alcor’s. Why should Alcor change its behavior if there are no adverse (public) consequences? I would also point out that some staff at Alcor, such as Diane Cremeens, have proven helpful, kind, courteous and responsive with reasonable to good follow-through.

          As to what to do re Thomas’ writings, I wish could recommend a course of action. Based on my past experience, Alcor is mostly indifferent to the value of intellectual property, unless they believe they can get it for free (no strings attached). They do not seem to systematically attempt to license, or otherwise profit from IP under their control and, in my experience in the past, are DNR with respect to suggestions about how they might do so. Maybe this is just as well, because whenever it is necessary to actually deal with them on some matter, it quite often becomes a long, drawn out, unrewarding bureaucratic nightmare at the end of which, no solution is reached- typically a symptom of a CEO who is not empowered and is being operated via remote control by a committee, or who is not capable of independent judgement or action. — Mike Darwin

          • cath says:

            Thanks, I’ll go ahead with the project. I feel there is someone I very much love who is being held hostage in a steel tank.

    • Eugen Leitl says:

      The progress in genomics is one of these areas which are dependant on information technology and its linear semi log plot dynamics. Few areas progress in that fashion.

      Watson and Crick published in 1953, the first gene was sequenced in 1972, the first genome in 1977. Now we’re in 2012, and our abilities to produce sequence data far eclipse our abilities to make sense from it. I personally consider genomics a great disappointment, since our abilities in therapeutics and synthetic biology have not progressed nearly in the same fashion.

      Machine-phase nanotechnology is today not nearly where genomics was in 1972. Unlike genomics, machine-phase requires some considerable initial capabilities in preparative bond formation and scission in order to be able to assist with its own advance in the same fasion that computers have helped themselves and also genomics.

      Give it time. In another half century — assuming the humanity does not produce a collapse and long decline — machine-phase will deliver. Meanwhile, don’t give up home.

  5. Eugen Leitl says:

    Abelard, while solvated (bio)nanosystems via self-assembly will come prior to real machine-phase systems it doesn’t mean machine-phase is not feasible and not desirable.

    It definitely is, but its bootstrap is hard. So give it time.

  6. Mark Plus says:


    >It seems to me that some are taking a broader definition of nanotechnology than you are. Some would refer to the feats of bioengineering as “nanotechnology.” Are you basically contending that we shouldn’t call it that because it will associate it with a sinking ship, Drexlerian nanotechnology?

    Yes. By contrast, the ship of genomics gets more and more “seaworthy,” so to speak, with the passage of time, and I suspect that connectomics will as well. Connectomics has a lot to do with cryonics, and we need to get up to speed on this quickly because it could provide our entree into mainstream science and medicine. Integrating cryonics into respectable company will also protect the cryonics movement from hostile litigation and laws based on the premise that cryonics societies practice fraud. A few more years of predicating cryonics on nonexistent and probably physically impossible “Nanotechnology,” and people will start to wonder about cryonics organizations’ intentions for collecting all that money; in fact they’ve started to question that already.

    >Because to me it’s just a matter of classification and whether both are two categories of the same thing or not, and how you name them. That gets us into the realm of marketing more than anything.

    We already have names for many of the disciplines which fall under “Nanotechnology,” namely, applied chemistry, biotechnology, materials science and so forth. I would tell a youngster interested in a career in the science of making real stuff to study those fields and ignore the fantasies about “Nanotechnology” which haven’t produced anything.

    • Eugen Leitl says:

      There are many misconceptions about what machine-phase is, and how difficult it is to achieve. The field is by no means dead, as you can see on the following bibliography

      The current work is largely theoretical as before you can attempt bootstrap you need to be aware of what works and what doesn’t. The bootstrap itself is a hard problem, more similar to the Manhattan project or the Moon shot.

  7. Mark Plus says:

    Siri shows that it doesn’t take much to trick the theory of mind into attributing consciousness & agency to something which lacks it. We call the premodern version of the Siri app “theism.”

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