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hankx7787 comments on [Link] Reddit, help me find some peace I'm dying young - Less Wrong

22 Post author: Konkvistador 18 August 2012 03:17PM

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Comment author: hankx7787 20 August 2012 07:51:30PM *  6 points [-]

You're wrong in almost every way, and even though your post is essentially flaming rhetoric and fails to address anything in the linked-to post or make any substantive claims at all, I'll still try to make a few points just because I have to at least say something.

Cryonics was definitely a scam when the first organization was established.

I've listened to some of the founders talk about what it was like when they first started. They were a small group of people who righteously believed in their cause, but had no money or organization. They pulled together in many amazing ways, at one point having to keep someone on ice in someone's bathtub before they could get a real solution, and winning amazing and unprecedented legal victories by pulling together and fighting for their cause. This is the sort of story I've heard. What are you even referring to? Or is your opinion just some random crap you pulled out of your ass which has no relation to reality (which is what I suspect)?

very much unlikely to provide any significant life extension

If you want to argue it's a bad bet, fine. I would disagree, but your free to have your own opinion.

The cryopreservation process causes significant brain damage, due to ischemia, cryoprotectant toxicity, mechanical stress caused by thermal contraction and possibly ice formation (its unclear whether they can achieve full vitrification of a human brain).

How much damage does burial or cremation cause?

Even if the process was in principle capable of preserving enough information to restore the self, there are significant chances that they may not perform it properly, since it entails difficult and time-critical procedures, and they work without any independent oversight and clearly have no incentive to report errors and mishaps.

The implication being that the folks running cryonics organization are frauds just out to make money and don't give a damn about the patient? Another baseless and insulting accusation.

Even if the preservation process works in principle and they performed it correctly, there are no known or even realistically foreseable technologies that would allow restoration. Belief in magical nanotechnology is just blind faith.

There is nothing magical about the prospects of nanotechnology. There are no assumptions that we will discover free energy, cold fusion, or need anything that we know violates the laws of physics. If you're not going to point out exactly what is magical about widely held beliefs about the prospects of future technology then it's safe to assume this is yet another opinion pulled out of your ass.

Even if restoration technology becomes available, it is far from obvious that future people will have an incentive to restore cryopreserved people, particularly at large scale.

The continued existence of cryonics organizations with their current policies provides for reanimation. In addition there are many perpetual trusts that provide redundant mechanisms for insuring reanimation is provided for. Finally, what exactly does this say about your view of humanity? If you had a stable but preserved medical patient, and came up with a way to cure them, would you save their life, or just throw people away like garbage? If the latter, what the hell is wrong with you? Most people would not do that. Also see http://alcor.org/FAQs/faq07.html#today

Last but not least, the financial structure of cryonics organization is dubious, resembling Ponzi/pyramid schemes. The long-term viability of these organizations is questionable.

Do you even know what a pyramid or Ponzi scheme is? A cryonics organization charges people the money required to perform the services they offer. They are very open about their financials. And yeah, the long-term viability of anything is questionable, but personally I don't believe the long-term viability of everything is certainly doomed.

Comment author: Eudoxia 20 August 2012 09:34:48PM *  2 points [-]

This is the sort of story I've heard. What are you even referring to?

I think he was talking about Robert Nelson leaving eleven 'patients' out in the open to rot.

The implication being that the folks running cryonics organization are frauds just out to make money and don't give a damn about the patient? Another baseless and insulting accusation.

Well, there's Robert Nelson, among other things. Trans Time once threatened to have two patients, Ray and Katherine Mills, thawed and cremated, because to them they were nothing more than paying customers, certainly not patients. They were later, thankfully, neuroconverted and transported to Alcor, which is not completely innocent either, if you read Darwin's A Visit to Alcor. Specifically, this part made me reconsider the plausibility of cryonics, not from a scientific standpoint, but from a social/organizational one:

[...] Saul Kent invited me over to his home in Woodcrest, California to view videotapes of two Alcor cases which troubled him – but he couldn’t quite put his finger on why this was so.[...] Patients were being stabilized at a nearby hospice, transported to Alcor (~20 min away) and then CPS was discontinued, the patients were placed on the OR table and, without any ice on their heads, they were allowed to sit there at temperatures a little below normal body temperature for 1 to 1.5 hours, while burr holes were drilled, [...] smoke could be seen coming from the burr wound! Since the patient had no circulation to provide blood to carry away the enormous heat generated by the action of the burr on the bone, the temperature of the underlying bone (and brain) must have been high enough to literally cook an egg. In one case, a patient’s head was removed in the field and, because they had failed to use a rectal plug, the patient had defecated in the PIB. The result was that feces had contaminated the neck wound, and Alcor personnel were seen pouring saline over the stump of the neck whilst holding the patient’s severed head over a bucket trying to wash the fecal matter off the stump. These are just a few of the grotesque problems I observed.[...]

Comment author: Eudoxia 20 August 2012 09:36:30PM 1 point [-]

[Cont., original post was cut]

As for the Cryonics Institute, well, I think this says it all:

My dear friend and mentor Curtis Henderson was little more than straight frozen because CI President Ben Best had this idea that adding polyethylene glycol to the CPA solution would inhibit edema.(Source).

As for MNT:

There is nothing magical about the prospects of nanotechnology. There are no assumptions that we will discover free energy, cold fusion, or need anything that we know violates the laws of physics. If you're not going to point out exactly what is magical about widely held beliefs about the prospects of future technology then it's safe to assume this is yet another opinion pulled out of your ass.

By now mechanosynthesis has pretty much been proven, at least in the environment of computer simulations. The things that are extrapolated from it are not so certain: For example, the Planetary Gear and other nanomechanical wonders have only been simulated using molecular dynamics, but the only way to validate that they work (That is, that the atoms won't clump together or bonds will be formed across gears) is with an ab-initio calculation, and to the extent of my knowledge this has not been done. The prospect of nanomedicine as described by Freitas is even more dubious, since it builds on the assumption that those machines are feasible. The scaling laws used by Drexler in Nanosystems (And subsequently by Freitas in Nanomedicine) are also flawed, as Richard Jones pointed out to Michael Anissimov:

With respect to the calculations in MNT, you should know that the numerical estimates of the rubbing friction of hydrogen terminated diamond surfaces you get from the formulae in Nanosystems are several orders of magnitude lower than the values obtained by Judith Harrison’s molecular dynamics simulations. This isn’t a “numerical error”, of course, it’s a result of an incomplete formulation of the relevant physics.

So while the basic capabilities are beyond doubt (In the theory), the capabilities that are presumed to arise from them are not.

Comment author: V_V 20 August 2012 10:36:00PM -2 points [-]

By now mechanosynthesis has pretty much been proven, at least in the environment of computer simulations.

Not really my field of expertise, but if I understand correctly, this refers to scanning tunneling microscope tips for atom-by-atom assembly. While certainly interesting for research purposes, this doesn't seem to be a scalable manufacturing technology.

Comment author: Eudoxia 20 August 2012 10:42:01PM *  -1 points [-]

I'm not sure about the scalability of mechanosynthesis, either (Massive parallelism gets thrown around a lot, but there may be something to convergent assembly) , but I was just talking about the basic tip chemistry.

Zyvex has a similar process called Patterned Atomic Layer Epitaxy which seems more promising as a large-scale manufacturing technology, but I have not seen designs for nanofactories of megadalton-scale products made using PALE.

Comment author: V_V 20 August 2012 09:38:38PM 1 point [-]

I've listened to some of the founders talk about what it was like when they first started. They were a small group of people who righteously believed in their cause

Chatsworth Scandal

How much damage does burial or cremation cause?

For reanimation purposes? Probably pretty much the same of cryopreservation. Once a bit has been deleted you can't delete it twice.

The implication being that the folks running cryonics organization are frauds just out to make money and don't give a damn about the patient?

Or they are incompetent, or they try to cut the costs to avoid bankruptcy, or they avoid reporting problems in order not to alienate current and potential new members, or because they delude themselves in order not to hurt their own perception of their effectiveness.

Why should you trust them? When someone offers to sell you the afterlife, skepticism should be the default position.

There is nothing magical about the prospects of nanotechnology. There are no assumptions that we will discover free energy, cold fusion, or need anything that we know violates the laws of physics.

Flying pigs might not necessarily violate the laws of physics either. That's not a good argument in favour of the claim that it will be eventually possible to create flying pigs.

If you make the claim that technology X is physically possible, the burden is on you to support that claim with a compelling argument. Attempting to reverse the burden of proof by saying "You can't prove X is impossible" doesn't qualify as a compelling argument. Note how close this comes to the classical religious argument "You can't prove there is no God".

If you're not going to point out exactly what is magical about widely held beliefs about the prospects of future technology then it's safe to assume this is yet another opinion pulled out of your ass.

  • There is no widely held belief that nanotechnology capable of restoring cryopreserved people will be developed.
  • "Nanotechnology" is kind of a buzzword. If by "nanotechnology" you mean artificial biochemistry, or something closely resembling that, then it is something feasible, and to some extent it already exists, but it will be subject to physical constraints probably similar to those that apply to natural biochemistry. If you mean an unspecified process that will allow us to arbitrarily control matter at atomic level, then that's pretty much the definition of magic.

The continued existence of cryonics organizations with their current policies provides for reanimation.

Why should they care about people frozen a long time in their past, particularly given limited resources?

Finally, what exactly does this say about your view of humanity?

That is realistic, I suppose. We currently let people die of starvation, curable diseases and violent conflict. If we found frozen corpses of 1000 years ago and it was technologically possible to reanimate them, how many would we care to restore?

Do you even know what a pyramid or Ponzi scheme is? A cryonics organization charges people the money required to perform the services they offer.

They fail to cover all the per-member expenses with just the fees paid by that member, hence they rely on the continuous recruitment of new members to pay the expenses for old ones. That makes them essentially a Ponzi scheme (or pyramid, if the members actively try to recruit new members themselves, as various people on this very thead appear to be doing). Possibly that wasn't done with fraudolent intent, but the result on the financial viability of the business model will be the same.

Comment author: Dolores1984 22 August 2012 02:32:27AM *  2 points [-]

Flying pigs might not necessarily violate the laws of physics either. That's not a good argument in favour of the claim that it will be eventually possible to create flying pigs.

For the record, it will one day be perfectly possible to create flying pigs, and it will probably be done as an art project, when the science of bio-engineering is sufficiently well understood. It's probably possible now, in fact,, if there were a substantial R&D push, and you allowed biomechanical augmentation.

EDIT: I'm right. If you bolt a jet engine and a pair of glider wings onto the skeleton of a pig, the animal will fly. And you can definitely splice enough genes to give a pig hollow bones and functional wings. The latter's just quite a bit harder than the former. Doesn't mean it won't be done, eventually.

Comment author: V_V 22 August 2012 09:37:37AM 0 points [-]

If you bolt a jet engine and a pair of glider wings onto the skeleton of a pig, the animal will fly.

If you load a pig in the cargo hold of a Boeing 747, the animal will fly, but I meant biologically flying pigs.

While I can't prove they are physically impossible, I don't assign a significant probability to the claim that they will be eventually created.

Comment author: Dolores1984 22 August 2012 05:04:21PM -1 points [-]

I think that's unreasonably pessimistic without an upper bound on time limit. In any case, there's substantially less interest in an art project like that than there is in, say, bringing people back from the dead.

Comment author: V_V 22 August 2012 06:51:07PM -1 points [-]

The claim I was considering is flying pigs being technologically possible at some time in the future, not they being actually made (which is less likely).

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 22 August 2012 05:13:17AM 0 points [-]

If you want an animal the size of an adult pig to fly under its own power, it's going to be a very challenging problem.

Comment author: Alicorn 22 August 2012 05:18:03AM 0 points [-]

Are there any naturally occurring vertebrates that can fly as juveniles but lose the power as adults? Do we have reason to believe that there are early or flightless birds that passed through a stage like that? Because that would be interesting.

Comment author: Dolores1984 22 August 2012 06:39:38AM -2 points [-]

'Under its own power' was not specified as part of the problem. But even under those conditions, a piglet is not dramatically larger than the big fruit bats. It could be done, mechanically. Actually getting that terrifying clusterfuck of a genome to work would be quite a challenge, but I have little doubt someone will do it eventually.

Comment author: hankx7787 22 August 2012 01:54:22AM 1 point [-]

Just going to add to this, there are lot of complete made up stories defaming cryonics organizations which have been found fraudulent in court. I don't know what the hell is wrong with people that would make them want to do this, I'm guessing maybe religious nuts who want to scare people away.

Comment author: Eudoxia 22 August 2012 02:33:20AM *  1 point [-]
Comment author: shminux 20 August 2012 08:56:21PM 0 points [-]

And yeah, the long-term viability of anything is questionable, but personally I don't believe the long-term viability of everything is certainly doomed.

For a cryonics organization to have reasonable odds of long-term survival (hundreds, possibly thousands of years), it has to be in the reference class of such organizations. Other than a handful of successful religions, and maybe a handful of financial organizations out of thousands, I cannot think of any. And the latter survived more by serendipity than due to exceptionally good management. Nearly all long-term entities significantly changed their mandate during that time. It is universally agreed that making cryonics into religion is a terrible idea, so what's left is hoping for luck and for the mandate to not deviate too far from what the founders intended.

Comment author: lsparrish 20 August 2012 09:18:38PM 1 point [-]

There are some things that make historical survival rates an unreliable gauge for our purposes. Religions and other ancient organizations lacked many of various resources available to us currently, and had to cope with more violence and illiteracy than we do. We can keep track of records automatically with computers, and 24-hour surveillance of the organization's physical properties (including patients) is possible. Eventually, there could be self-sustaining and self-repairing -- even self-defending -- facilities. Furthermore, if extreme longevity happens in the relatively near term (perhaps mere decades after one's cryopreservation) this raises the possibility that the stewards of the organization will be very experienced and risk-conscious human beings. The need for an unbroken line of succession across many generations (a huge risk factor) would thus be greatly reduced if not eliminated entirely.

Comment author: shminux 20 August 2012 09:21:17PM 0 points [-]

There are some things that make historical survival rates an unreliable gauge for our purposes.

"This time is different".

Comment author: V_V 21 August 2012 09:22:59AM 0 points [-]

We can keep track of records automatically with computers, and 24-hour surveillance of the organization's physical properties (including patients) is possible.

Organizations typically don't fail because their site has been raided by marauders, they fail because of financial or legal problems, or because those who run them lose interests (or retire, or die and nobody replaces them).

Furthermore, if extreme longevity happens in the relatively near term (perhaps mere decades after one's cryopreservation) this raises the possibility that the stewards of the organization will be very experienced and risk-conscious human beings.

Watching over human popsicles (for decades, centuries, millennia?), without any new subscription and without any need for someone to do the same for them in the future. They are going to need a pretty strong motivation.