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handoflixue comments on Timeless Identity - Less Wrong

23 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 03 June 2008 08:16AM

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Comment author: handoflixue 25 May 2011 12:31:47AM 0 points [-]

"If cryonics were widely seen in the same terms as any other medical procedure, economies of scale would considerably diminish the cost"

To what degree are these economies of scale assumed? Is it really viable, both practically and financially, to cryogenically preserve 150,000 people a day?

Is there any particular reason to suspect that investing this sort of funding in to cryonics research is the best social policy? What about other efforts to "cure death" by keeping people from dying in the first place (for instance, those technologies that would be the necessary foundations for restoring people from cryonics in the first place)?

I see cryonics hyped a lot here, and in rationalist / transhuman communities at large, and it seems like an "applause light", a social signal of "I'm rationalist; see, I even have the Mandatory Transhumanist Cryogenics Policy!"

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 25 May 2011 01:46:35AM 10 points [-]

Liquid nitrogen is cheap, and heat loss scales as the 2/3 power of volume. Cryonically preserving 150,000 people per day would, I fully expect, be vastly cheaper than anything else we could do to combat death.

Comment author: ciphergoth 25 May 2011 07:53:52AM 4 points [-]

Could you tell us what you see in the way that cryonics is "hyped" that you would be less likely to see if people praised it simply because it was a good idea?

Comment author: handoflixue 25 May 2011 07:18:44PM 1 point [-]

I would expect to see a rational discussion of the benefits and trade-offs involved, in such a way as to let me evaluate, based on my utility function, whether this is a good investment for me.

Instead, I primarily see almost a "reversed stupidity" discussion, combined with what seems like in-group signalling: "See all these arguments against cryonics? They are all irrational, as I have now demonstrated. QED cryonics is rational, and you should signal your conformity to the Rationality Tribe by signing up today!"

I can totally understand why it's presented this way, but it reads off as "hype" because I almost never encounter anything else. It all seems to just naively assume that "preserving my individual life at any cost is a perfectly rational decision." Maybe that really is all the thought that goes in to it; if your utility function places a suitably high value on self-preservation, then there's not really a lot of further discussion required.

But I get the sense that there are deeper thoughts that just never get discussed, because everyone is busy fighting against the nay-sayers. There's a deep absence of arguments for cryonics, especially ones that actually take in to consideration social policy, and what else could be accomplished for $200K.

(Eliezer hinted at it, with his comments about economies of scale, but it was a mere footnote, and quite possibly the first time I've seen anyone discuss the issue from that perspective even briefly)

Comment author: bcoburn 25 May 2011 11:17:34PM 3 points [-]

Mandatory link on cryonics scaling that basically agrees with Eliezer:


Comment author: handoflixue 26 May 2011 01:20:37AM *  1 point [-]

Unless modern figures have drifted dramatically, free storage would give you a whopping 25% off coupon.

This is based on the 1990 rates I found for Alcor. And based on Alcor's commentary on those prices, this is an optimistic estimate.

Source: http://www.alcor.org/Library/html/CostOfCryonicsTables.txt

Cost of cryogenic suspension (neuro-suspension only): $18,908.76

Cost of fund to cover all maintenance costs: $6,600

Proportional cost of maintenance: 25.87%

I'd also echo ciphergoth's request for any sort of actual citation on the numbers in that post; the entire post strikes me as making some absurdly optimistic assumptions (or some utterly trivial ones, if the author was talking about neuro-suspension instead of whole-body...)