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An observation on cryocrastination

9 Post author: AndrewH 22 July 2009 08:41PM

Why do people cryocrastinate? The most common explanation I’ve heard from intelligent people for not getting cryonics is that the money is better spent on some altruistic cause. By itself there is nothing wrong with this belief, but irrationality lies near.

Before I continue, I am not here to argue that cryonics works or not. That has been done before. From this point on, I will assume cryonics derives expected utility from it giving a reasonable chance of continuing life past many currently terminal events, with life being a valuable thing.

We begin with a quick overview of the cost of cryonics. Let us break our cost analysis into two parts: acquisition of the cryonics and life insurance contracts and maintenance of these contracts.

First, acquisition. The main costs here is the time that could be invested in other activities. I would estimate a reasonably organized person could get it done with 20 hours of continuous work and $200 (all costs USD) upfront. Let us say this is $600 worth of costs. For people in the US, see rudi hoffman, he will do pretty much everything.

Second, maintenance. For myself who lives in a non-silly country like New Zealand, life insurance is $10 per month, and membership fees for e.g. Cryonics Institute is $10 a month, totaling 70 cents a day. Let us say it is $1 a day for places such as the US, as insurance costs an arm and a leg there.

So cryonics costs one dollar a day. Put this way, it doesn't seem much. This comes out to be two starbucks coffees a week. Let me repeat that: in the long term, cryonics costs TWO STARBUCKS COFFEES A WEEK. Very few people can say they cannot optimize themselves so as to have $1 a day more disposable income.

As someone once put it to Eliezer “No, really, that's ridiculous.  If that's true then my decision isn't just determined, it's overdetermined.”. I agree, cryonics is cheap.

Let us now consider the following two beliefs from someone who has a favorite cause, in which donating money gives lots of positive utility. The amount we are considering to donate is exactly the amount we would think about using to get cryonics:

1: Compared to cryonics, which is almost entirely selfish spending, my cause can benefit far more from the money than spending it on cryonics.

2:  Below a certain amount, the contribution I could make to my cause is not that helpful. It becomes merely a drop in the bucket, of negligible utility.

The first point implies that if people are to optimize themselves (and most people can optimize themselves to get $1 more a day), they should optimize themselves to donate more money to their favorite cause. The second point implies they don’t see the small donations as useful to their cause, so they shouldn’t bother to optimize themselves. The net result is that you decide it is better to keep on drinking that cup of coffee.

So cryonics is sidestepped in a conversation by point one, at most activating peoples thoughts to donate more. But since the change in donation is so small, the effort is too much that ultimately they do nothing.

There is an assumption in the second point above that if the amount of money you donate is too small, you wont bother donating. However, you do know logically, at a System 2 level, that even a small amount of money counts; $30 a month is useful to any cause. But you usually don’t get the pressing feeling that you must optimize your life to donate just a bit more money from logical arguments.

System 1 thought processes see your dollar coin being lost in a sea of dollar coins, so why bother? Of course, it does not help that you might have to give up things that make you personally happy. The outcome is the same: you do not optimize yourself and you go on drinking that cup of coffee.

It is harder to let go of money than it should be, but in this case you should simply shut up and multiply. If you believe you can contribute more money to a cause, contribute, it will help, but don’t use your cause as an excuse for cryocrastinating. If you believe you have no more money to give to your cause, look to see at what you spend on yourself personally, can it really be worth more than the small cost of cryonics in the long run? Remember, without cryonics death is truly game over.

So for the majority of you still not signed up, consider carefully: how more optimized can you be?

Comments (45)

Comment author: RichardKennaway 22 July 2009 09:50:47PM *  7 points [-]

The cost depends very much on where you live.

I've just been looking on the web, and as far as I can tell, there are no cryonics services currently available in the U.K. On top of that, I'm over 50 and have no life insurance (by deliberate choice, because I have no dependents). I think it would cost me a great deal more than a dollar a day to assure my preservation, beginning with emigrating to another country and finding employment there to finance preservation costs in the region of $100,000. Or alternatively, helping to set up such services here, which would also involve large amounts of time and money.

Quite a lot of us are not from the U.S. I'd be interested to know the state of cryonics facilities in other countries.

Also, a real commitment to cryonics surely involves a lot more than just taking out membership and arranging the finance for the big day. You would presumably want to ensure that wherever you go, you have a plan for a suspension team to reach you if you drop dead, and never go anywhere too far out of reach. No backpacking trips to the wilderness, no travel to less developed countries, etc. U.S. people signed up: what additional steps do you take to ensure that your trip to the future is not merely paid for, but actually happens?

Comment author: Aurini 23 July 2009 03:40:44AM 2 points [-]

Transmetropolitan has a tragic story about a wife and husband team of investigative journalists (born slightly before you) who signed up together. The wife died of a heart attack, saying "I'll see you in the future," but then the husband died in a third-world dirt country. His last words were, "If you people had learned to clean your toilets..." Her revival was heart-breaking.

I'd like to second Mr Kennaway's question about any international information. I'm in Soviet Canuckistan for now, and I haven't been able to root anything up. Presumably the Cryonics organizations would have that sort of information on a website, that maybe one of you is familiar with?

Comment author: CronoDAS 22 July 2009 10:50:43PM *  6 points [-]

I'm not signed up for cryonics because, well, I don't particularly want the service. On the other hand, for someone who, unlike me, would much rather be alive than be dead, it seems like a pretty good deal.

Still, I can't help but be reminded of the Egyptian pyramids and mummification procedures when I think about cryonics... they wanted to live forever, too.

Comment author: RobinZ 22 July 2009 10:56:48PM 8 points [-]

Wanting to live is admirable. As it happens, the ancient Egyptians were quite flatly wrong about how one goes about living forever. This is a shame, but has no bearing on cryonics.

Comment author: steven0461 22 July 2009 08:50:24PM *  6 points [-]

I prefer to see it not so much in terms of eternal life being as cheap as an occasional cup of coffee at Starbucks, but more in terms of Starbucks making an occasional cup of coffee as expensive as eternal life.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 22 July 2009 09:54:33PM 5 points [-]

But you have to be careful to avoid becoming penny-wise and pound-foolish. Odds are there are bigger expenses or potential gains in your life than the coffee you drink, and since you have limited attention and willpower, you should probably work on them first.

Comment author: AndrewH 23 July 2009 04:56:17AM *  0 points [-]

I don't even drink coffee so I'm going to have to think hard on what part of my life I should optimize. I picked it because many people drink starbucks coffee (we even have then in my little island country) and I presume you can do it cheaper if you buy your own.

Comment author: Jack 23 July 2009 12:37:20AM 3 points [-]

Have you tried their Peppermint Mocha? I'd, ahem, die for it.

Comment author: stoat 23 July 2009 03:49:38PM 4 points [-]

I can tell you a reason I've cryocrastinated. I don't expect the reason to hold up under scrutiny. It held up under my half-hearted scrutiny, but so what? I have low confidence in my own ability to be rational. In fact, I'd be grateful if someone can eliminate this worry for me.

So, the reason is concern about dystopian or hellish scenarios. For a cartoon of such a scenario, think I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.

One thought I had was that these scenarios are so unlikely that if I felt they warranted avoiding cryonics, I'd also feel they warranted preventative suicide. I'm confused about where I stand on this, but in any case preventative suicide is an action I am absolutely unable to take, whereas not signing up for cryonics is easy.

Thanks if you can straighten this out for me.

Comment author: thomblake 23 July 2009 03:55:03PM 3 points [-]

So, the reason is concern about dystopian or hellish scenarios.

The standard response to this is that you'd be much more likely to be revived by good people than bad ones - in a dystopia, cryonics would probably fail anyway, and why would they want to torture you in particular?

I can't give you actual math but I'll wave my hands at it and say expected utility is much higher for living forever in a good place. I imagine someone else is going to step up to the plate on this one.

And hey, you're going to die anyway, do you expect it to really be worse than that?

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 23 July 2009 06:41:05AM 2 points [-]

Here is some expository advice.

Was the point of the article cryonics? or was it the conclusion, to answer "why"? The conclusion generalizes and is probably of interest to people who are not interested in cryonics, who might have skipped the article because of the title. (If the point was cryonics as such, I agree with Thom Blake.)

Your answer to "why?" is that we have incoherent preferences, leading to inaction. We have intransitive preferences, perhaps because of disagreement between systems 1 and 2. We don't act as a money pump, getting exploited by an adversary, but we run around in circles, wastefully.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 22 July 2009 09:51:42PM *  2 points [-]

I don't drink coffee, but I suspect it is a justifiable expenditure. Coffee drinkers, would you say that drinking coffee makes you, say, 15% more productive for the hour after you drink it? If you gain any productivity benefit, is it due to something about drinking coffee, or something about not not having had coffee? (The second question isn't relevant to this discussion much; I'm just wondering whether I should start drinking coffee myself.)

It doesn't make much sense to look into expenditures that are small, sporadic, and that you suspect make you feel better. However, it does make sense to look into an everyday expenditure if is big, regular, or potentially useless. (For example, if you generally buy a new pair of shoes every month or two, that's definitely worth looking into--it fits all three of the criteria.) You can frame cryonics expenses as small and regular or big and irregular, but either way they trip one of the criterion. (Coffee expenses are also regular and therefore worth looking into, but as I explained above, I think they might be justified.)

Comment author: Jack 23 July 2009 12:44:19AM *  4 points [-]

I have ADD but prescription meds have never worked very well for me. Coffee does. My productivity with caffeine is probably at least 30-40% greater than my productivity without it. For rushed projects or all-nighters I'll uses an energy drink or two instead of coffee or espresso.

The tolerance is an issue but since I'm a student I can use vacations to stop intake for a week and then go back to my usual consumption rate. The existence of safe and legal uppers is probably my only salvation.

Comment author: eirenicon 23 July 2009 01:08:35AM 3 points [-]

Coffee drinkers, would you say that drinking coffee makes you, say, 15% more productive for the hour after you drink it? If you gain any productivity benefit, is it due to something about drinking coffee, or something about not not having had coffee?

I would estimate at least 20-30% more productive for at least two hours. If I am especially tired before, it could be double that. This is added benefit from drinking coffee; I only started about a year ago, and my productivity shot up. If I don't drink coffee, it goes back to 'normal' levels.

Comment author: SoullessAutomaton 22 July 2009 10:05:59PM 4 points [-]

If you're drinking coffee for purely instrumental value, don't buy it from coffee shops. Also don't drink espresso, as it takes longer to make and/or is more expensive. The instrumentally ideal coffee is black, the cheapest stuff you can choke down, and preferably made by someone else (who you aren't paying to do so).

That said, I drink coffee more for pleasure than productivity. I can't say I really endorse it for such purposes--caffeine tolerance builds up too quickly for it to be sustainable, and the negative productivity while decreasing intake seems to more than outweigh the gains felt while increasing.

I suggest acquiring enough of a taste for coffee to not hate consuming it, possibly by drinking decaf, but don't drink it regularly otherwise--reserve it for an occasional (weekly or less) shot of safe, legal stimulant when it will do the most good.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 23 July 2009 12:21:43AM 0 points [-]

Thanks!

Comment author: Jach 23 July 2009 04:16:36AM 2 points [-]

I don't enjoy coffee, but I do make use of caffeine to stabilize my productivity. I buy it in pure tablet form, which is far cheaper than the equivalent amounts in soda or energy drinks, which I used before tablets and have now mostly stopped using due to dental issues.

I'm all too aware of caffeine tolerance, and I only recommend it in infrequent usages. Maybe you pulled an all-nighter two nights in a row and need help staying awake the next day for school, work, or what have you. Long drives are another case, but I don't ever have daily doses (anymore).

As for my productivity estimates when using caffeine, it's primarily a productivity stabilizer. When I use it in sleep-deprived states or for things that require long mental endurance, it puts me in a temporary (for as long as I keep taking it) pseudo-state that is as if I was in my normal one, decently-rested and alert. If I use it in my normal state, I get no productivity boosts. I suspect this is the result of a tolerance developed a few years ago.

Comment author: taw 22 July 2009 09:05:50PM 7 points [-]

Expressing lifetime or otherwise long term cost in terms of "cost per day" is insulting to readers' intelligence and is an extremely dishonest attempt at making things appear cheaper than they really are. Please never ever do this. Even worse is pretending life insurance costs stay the same for life.

Now the real costs are between $25,000 and $155,000 in addition to annual membership fees, signup fees, transportation fees after death etc. That's how much you have to save during your lifetime to get cryopreserved.

Of course you can get life insurance, but by the basic laws of economics, amount of money you can expect to pay for your life insurance is higher than

You pay $10 a month now that you're young and healthy, but it will get steeply higher once you're old and sick (assuming insurance company doesn't do any tricks, decides to terminate your insurance once you get sick, falls out of business etc.), so that the expected cost to you gets above the amount of money you get from insurance.

Comment author: bogus 22 July 2009 09:09:18PM *  4 points [-]

Expressing lifetime or otherwise long term cost in terms of "cost per day" is insulting to readers' intelligence and is an extremely dishonest attempt at making things appear cheaper than they really are. Please never ever do this.

Why? Do you object to amortizing any capital cost or expenditure?

Of course you can get life insurance, but by the basic laws of economics, amount of money you can expect to pay for your life insurance is higher than

The point of getting life insurance is not that it's any less expensive (in expectation) than putting the money in the bank: it's to hedge the risk that you will need to be cryopreserved before you've saved enough.

Comment author: eirenicon 22 July 2009 09:26:16PM *  4 points [-]

Do you object to amortizing any capital cost or expenditure?

Over a realistic timeframe, no. Reducing what would probably be a monthly payment to a cost per diem is a reductionist appeal to faculties other than reason, though. I feel like Less Wrong isn't a good place to turn to marketing tactics if your rational argument fails (I'm Billy Mays, and I want you to live forever for as little as a dollar a day!).

Comment author: SoullessAutomaton 22 July 2009 09:41:09PM *  3 points [-]

I feel like Less Wrong isn't a good place to turn to marketing tactics if your rational argument fails

So what do you turn to on Less Wrong, when your rational argument fails for no apparent rational reason? The dilemma runs like this:

  1. I make my awesome rational argument for the expected benefit of doing X
  2. Rationalists on LW decline to do X because of reasons that look not-very-rational to me
  3. I try roundabout arguments to try and sneak past whatever bias is keeping people from getting with the program

At least, that's how it looks if you accept the pro-cryonics arguments. Either way, the lack of consensus (and action) on cryonics seems indicative to me of a substantial failure of rationality somewhere... but I'm not sure where.

ETA: I am not advocating the use of "marketing tactics" here, I'm trying to raise the question of what to do when you think your rational argument is triggering something like an absolute denial macro in other rationalists for unknown reasons. "Reconsider if your argument is correct" is a valid response, as is "give up for now".

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 23 July 2009 04:59:58AM 5 points [-]

Please don't overuse the concept "absolute denial macro". This refers to inability to notice your left arm is paralyzed. You're talking about strictly ordinary denial.

Comment author: SoullessAutomaton 23 July 2009 10:40:44AM 2 points [-]

I was trying to use it in roughly the same sense that taw was in the post I linked to. Upon reflection, yes, it's silly in this context.

Comment author: Cyan 23 July 2009 05:24:44AM 0 points [-]

I'm uncomfortable with the reification of an "absolute denial macro", period. I think the observed behavior is more likely to be the product of a damage-induced cognitive deficit rather than some macro-like subroutine that gets activated inappropriately.

Comment author: eirenicon 22 July 2009 10:41:15PM 3 points [-]
  1. I argue that doing X is rational.
  2. Other people irrationally disagree
  3. I abandon the rational argument and use other tactics to make them agree with me

I know down to my gut this is a bad idea.

If rationalists on LW are being irrational, let them grow to become better rationalists and try again. To act otherwise is to fall prey to the Dark Arts. Accepting a rational belief for irrational reasons means you can reject that belief for equally irrational reasons.

Comment author: SoullessAutomaton 23 July 2009 01:17:52AM *  8 points [-]

There is a large, but subtle, difference between these scenarios:

  • Abandon rational argument and use manipulative tactics
  • Rework and rephrase the rational argument so as to avoid triggering some reflexive bias

I'm certainly not advocating the former and didn't mean to sound like I was.

Comment author: pjeby 22 July 2009 10:59:38PM 2 points [-]

Accepting a rational belief for irrational reasons means you can reject that belief for equally irrational reasons.

  1. Removing an irrational bias against doing something is not the same thing as adding an irrational reason for doing it. The per diem strategy is aimed at removing one of the perceived penalties of choosing cryonics, not adding another reason to do it.

  2. Existing beliefs get the benefits of status-quo bias and confirmation bias. It takes work to remove them. So your statement above is nonsense.

  3. It's unlikely that you got your current so-called rational beliefs through rational methods. Like, win-the-lottery unlikely. Do you think that any of Eliezers' posts are convincing purely for rational reasons? If so, you are engaging in self-delusion.

I know down to my gut this is a bad idea.

Which in this context, only increases the probability that you're wrong, and for an utterly irrational reason.

Now, if you knew down to your gut that something was a good idea, and it made you happy to think so, I would be far less suspicious. For whatever reason, negative emotions seem to bias our reasoning processes much more than positive ones do.

Comment author: eirenicon 23 July 2009 12:43:04AM 3 points [-]

The per diem strategy is aimed at removing one of the perceived penalties of choosing cryonics, not adding another reason to do it.

It can easily be read in the form of how cheap it is, rather than how expensive it isn't.

Existing beliefs get the benefits of status-quo bias and confirmation bias. It takes work to remove them. So your statement above is nonsense.

I didn't intend to mean reject that belief after accepting it. I meant that an irrational argument for a belief can be negated by an irrational argument against it. If you say the sky is blue because it is made of blue jeans, I can counter your argument by saying the sky is blue because it is made of paint. Obviously it doesn't get us anywhere. Make a rational argument or don't make an argument at all. If it helps, modify "Accepting" to "To be able to accept".

It's unlikely that you got your current so-called rational beliefs through rational methods. Like, win-the-lottery unlikely. Do you think that any of Eliezers' posts are convincing purely for rational reasons? If so, you are engaging in self-delusion.

I'm not sure what you mean. I am certain I hold many beliefs that I was persuaded to accept by very convincing and skilled people, Eliezer among them. I think Eliezer writes very persuasively. Persuasive methods do not, however, imply the intended or even accidental employment of irrational methods when making a case. And if I thought I gained most or all of my "current so-called rational beliefs" through irrational methods, I would be very disturbed. The beliefs I am aware of currently adhering to were not put there by some motivational speaker but have been cultivated through study, reflection and revision.

Which in this context, only increases the probability that you're wrong, and for an utterly irrational reason.

I thought my phrasing made it clear enough that it wasn't just a gut feeling, but that my opposition to it was strong to the point where I actually had a gut feeling about it, not just an intellectual position. Instead of merely thinking "I know that's wrong" I was thinking "How could that possibly be right."

Comment author: pjeby 23 July 2009 01:29:39AM *  0 points [-]

It can easily be read in the form of how cheap it is, rather than how expensive it isn't.

This reminds me of an amusing segment of one of Frank Kern's marketing classes, in which he explains that it doesn't matter how cheap the product is if no one wants it. He then proceeds to illustrate this idea by joking about having a "new" device here that will cut off a chunk of a certain masculine body part, for "only" $1/day.

IOW, believing that cryonics is cheap is only relevant if you want it in the first place.

If you say the sky is blue because it is made of blue jeans, I can counter your argument by saying the sky is blue because it is made of paint.

Ridiculous! Everyone knows the sky is made of blue cheese.

(Seriously, your argument makes no more sense than that. There is no direct causal relationship between the argument that convinces you of a thing, and the argument that talks you back out of it or into something else.)

Persuasive methods do not, however, imply the intended or even accidental employment of irrational methods when making a case.

Perhaps "arational" would be a better word. The point is, when you are enjoying listening to a story, you are not engaging in reasoning, as it's incompatible with experiencing the story.

And if I thought I gained most or all of my "current so-called rational beliefs" through irrational methods, I would be very disturbed.

Which is what keeps you motivated to not pay very close attention to what beliefs you actually have, and act on.

The beliefs I am aware of currently adhering to

...are a ridiculously tiny subset of the beliefs you actually hold and act upon, accumulated by observation, priming, and simple conditioning -- none of which include any conscious involvement, awareness, study, or reflection, let alone reasoning.

And these beliefs -- whether irrational or arational -- form the framework through which you view the world and make judgments about it... including such judgments as to which reflected, conscious beliefs you should hold.

I thought my phrasing made it clear enough that it wasn't just a gut feeling, but that my opposition to it was strong to the point where I actually had a gut feeling about it, not just an intellectual position. Instead of merely thinking "I know that's wrong" I was thinking "How could that possibly be right."

My point is that the feeling invariably precedes the logic, because it's the feeling that told you to look for reasons to justify your initial impression.

I mean, I doubt you're claiming that you were simply studying the situation and, after accumulating various bits of evidence with no preconception whatsoever, suddenly stumbled upon a realization that this was the way it was!

Instead, the sequence was almost certainly that you read the post, felt something bothering you about it, and then went looking for what already bothered you. And what bothered you was not a product of reasoning-in-the-moment, but merely a cached thought... perhaps that persuasion is bad, or bad for rationalists, or maybe even just a dislike of people saying something is $1/day.

Now, I'm not saying this is unique to you, or that I don't do it. After all, I went through the exact same sequence in order to reply to you!

I'm just saying, I don't think it's a good idea to trust it when I get "a bad feeling about this" until I've rooted out the cached thought and crosschecked it against the actual situation. And even knowing this, I still forget or goof it up. A LOT.

Which means I have a low expectation of trustworthiness when someone speaks highly of their gut feelings instead, as though they were some sort of verification of truth, rather than a highly suspicious sign of cached thoughts and bottom-line reasoning.

Comment author: eirenicon 23 July 2009 02:12:24AM 0 points [-]

I don't have time to continue this discussion right now. I just wanted to mention something that's bothering me. Right now it looks like I'm getting voted up and you down, and that's stupid. Your comments aren't of lower quality than mine, they're simply disagreeing with mine. There seem to be only a couple people doing it (I don't vote on threads I'm involved in), so I say to them... please vote according to the quality and relevance of the comment, not how much you like the content. Vote up to signal agreement if you must, but don't vote down if the comment is clearly on topic and well written.

Comment author: orthonormal 23 July 2009 02:33:45AM *  5 points [-]

I'm afraid that I disagree with you on the quality of PJ Eby's contributions, and that I have neither the time nor inclination to take direct part in this thread.

Comment author: pjeby 23 July 2009 02:34:26AM 1 point [-]

Oh great, now they're downvoting you, too. ;-)

Comment author: komponisto 23 July 2009 02:10:04PM 0 points [-]

please vote according to the quality and relevance of the comment, not how much you like the content. Vote up to signal agreement if you must, but don't vote down if the comment is clearly on topic and well written.

On behalf of all those who suffer from extreme karma-loss-aversion, I want to second this message. Please don't downvote just because you disagree on substance.

(I came close to deleting a recent comment of mine that was downvoted shortly after being posted. It's now at +12.)

Comment author: pjeby 22 July 2009 10:00:26PM 2 points [-]

I'm Billy Mays, and I want you to live forever for as little as a dollar a day!

Now if only somebody had convinced him to sign up for cryonics... ;-)

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 22 July 2009 09:31:25PM 1 point [-]

The point of getting life insurance is not that it's any less expensive (in expectation) than putting the money in the bank: it's to hedge the risk that you will need to be cryopreserved before you've saved enough.

Which is why using it to argue that the cost is low is misleading, the same goes for dividing the cost by the number of days in your life.

Comment author: wedrifid 25 July 2009 09:43:44PM 3 points [-]

Expressing lifetime or otherwise long term cost in terms of "cost per day" is insulting to readers' intelligence and is an extremely dishonest attempt at making things appear cheaper than they really are. Please never ever do this. Even worse is pretending life insurance costs stay the same for life.

As an intelligent reader I found the 'cost per day' information useful. When considering what it would take to sign up for cryogenics this is exactly the information I need to consider. Numbers like $155,000 may be relevant to actual decision making but not to procrastinating with rationalisations that can be seen here.

Comment author: AndrewH 22 July 2009 10:30:45PM 0 points [-]

Now the real costs are between $25,000 and $155,000 in addition to annual membership fees, signup fees, transportation fees after death etc. That's how much you have to save during your lifetime to get cryopreserved.

The real costs per day of not bothering to optimized how you purchase food also add up over time. Most people I would be willing to bet could save quite a substantial amount of money with some careful thought and planning simply in how they purchase food. $7 a week over an average lifespan is $27,000.

The point of cryonics is that just a bit of optimization gives you a potential second chance at life if you screw up somewhere (sneeze when driving for example), given reasonable probabilities over the chances of dying, the likelihood of successful cryopreservation and revival, that amount of money is ridiculously cheap.

Comment author: taw 23 July 2009 01:27:16AM 1 point [-]

If I estimate their chance of success at let's say 0.1% (still very optimistic considering that it never worked even once so far), expected value of such life equal to value of my current life, and the total cost is around $200,000 (freezing, membership, sing up, transportation, overhead of insurance company), that means I value my life at $200,000,000. I'm pretty sure I don't do many other things that could save my life that have much higher cost to chance of succeeding ratio.

Comment author: AndrewH 23 July 2009 02:21:01AM 0 points [-]

Well, there are a great many factors I am glossing over, but if you are pessimistic about cryonics to that degree, you are probably pessimistic about other future technologies like medical and anti-aging technologies. You will die eventually unless actuarial escape velocity occurs when you are alive. Assuming this is not the case, if you don't have cryonics you wont take advantage of the future indefinite lifespans humans will possess, old age will kill you.

You could very well be worth more than 200 million, you just need to live long enough!.

Comment author: rhollerith_dot_com 23 July 2009 07:25:15PM *  2 points [-]

The OP, AndrewH, writes, "Remember, without cryonics death is truly game over."

That depends on the game. If my definition of winning refers to the world outside myself, then my death is not game over because my death is not the end of the world.

Comment author: thomblake 23 July 2009 02:03:03AM *  2 points [-]

It should not be the case that anyone here 1) thinks cryonics will work, 2) thinks cryonics working has positive expected utility, 3) wants to maximize utility, and 4) doesn't have a decent plan for cryonics. Eliezer and Robin did the whole telethon thing with "nobody has to die" and the cost-benefit analysis and whatnot.

There should not need to be an article like this.

If you actually buy into the idea that the money could be better spent on charitable giving, imagine how much charitable giving you could do in the future when you're living for a million years and everybody eats lasers.

Comment author: pjeby 23 July 2009 02:13:48AM *  3 points [-]

Imagine how much charitable giving you could do in the future when you're living for a million years and everybody eats lasers.

LOL'd and upvoted. BUT...

There should not need to be an article like this.

...only if you mean "should" in the same way that people "should" act rationally, but don't.

The Prochaska/Norcross Observation (I don't know that it has a formal name, so I'm just dubbing it that for now) notes that to make a commitment to action, a person must first increase their estimate of the benefits by 1 standard deviation, and THEN decrease their estimate of the drawbacks by .5 standard deviations.

In other words, first you have to want the thing, and then you have to be convinced that it's not going to be too much trouble/risk to get it. These statistics were found to apply across a broad variety of significant life changes.

(And of course, direct marketers can also be observed to play by these rules in how they construct their presentations and offers. But whether you call it "marketing" or an "anti-akrasia technique" is purely a matter of perspective.)

Edit to add: the Prochaska/Norcross Observations are officially known as the "Strong and Weak Principles Of Behavior Change". (I think my name sounds better, but what can you do?) The findings have been replicated in other experiments (see page 17 or search for "T points") and observed in other meta-analyses, although the larger "trans-theoretical" framework that Prochaska et al formulated is a bit of a mixed bag. I never found it all that interesting myself, compared to the Strong/Weak principles themselves.)

Comment author: thomblake 23 July 2009 02:17:17AM 1 point [-]

only if you mean "should" in the same way that people "should" act rationally, but don't.

I'm pretty sure that's the only sense of "should" I use. The normative kind.

Comment author: AndrewH 23 July 2009 05:03:40AM 0 points [-]

I reiterated the cost analysis from my perspective because it is essential to my argument of why people see cryonics is super beneficial, but still fail to do anything about it. All the while sitting on a potential gold mine of money they are wasting away which could be used to get cryonics!

Comment author: timtyler 23 July 2009 07:35:59AM 0 points [-]

Re: "From this point on, I will assume cryonics derives expected utility from it giving a reasonable chance of continuing life past many currently terminal events, with life being a valuable thing."

Life is a valuable thing - but there are other ways of promoting it besides cryonics. In particular, you can give funds to your relatives and their descendants. That is usually how dead people spend their money. Cryonics may be attractive to that section of the population with no family - or no family values.