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CynicalOptimist comments on Timeless Identity - Less Wrong

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

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Comment author: CynicalOptimist 17 November 2016 08:29:45PM *  0 points [-]

This seems to me like an orthogonal question. (A question that can be entirely extricated and separated from the cryonics question).

You're talking about whether you are a valuable enough individual that you can justify resources being spent on maintaining your existence. That's a question that can be asked just as easily even if you have no concept of cryonics. For instance: if your life depends on getting medical treatment that costs a million dollars, is it worth it? Or should you prefer that the money be spent on saving other lives more efficiently?

(Incidentally, i know that utilitarianism generally favours the second option. But I would never blame anyone for choosing the first option if the money was offered to them.)

I would accept an end to my existence if it allowed everyone else on earth to live for as long as they wished, and experience an existentially fulfilling form of happiness. I wouldn't accept an end to my existence if it allowed one stranger to enjoy an ice cream. There are scenarios where I would think it was worth using resources to maintain my existence, and scenarios where I would accept that the resources should be used differently. I think this is true when we consider cryonics, and equally true if we don't.

The cryonics question is quite different.

For the sake of argument, I'll assume that you're alive and that you intend to keep on living, for at least the next 5 years. I'll assume that If you experienced a life-threatening situation tomorrow, and someone was able to intervene medically and grant you (at least) 5 more years of life, then you would want them to.

There are many different life-threatening scenarios, and many different possible interventions. But for decision making purposes, you could probably group them into "interventions which extend my life in a meaningful way" and interventions that don't. For instance, an intervention that kept your body alive but left you completely brain-dead would probably go in the second category. Coronary bypass surgery would probably go in the first.

The cryonics question here is simply: "If a doctor offered to freeze you, then revive you 50 years later" would you put this in the same category as other "life-saving" interventions? Would you consider it an extension of your life, in the same way as a heart transplant would be? And would you value it similarly in your considerations?

And of course, we can ask the same question for a different intervention, where you are frozen, then scanned, then recreated years later in one (or more) simulations.