Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

In response to Wise Pretensions v.0
Comment author: Sigivald 20 February 2009 07:00:23PM 0 points [-]

My problem with this is that Mr. Yudkoswky (of 2006)'s examples (at least Gandhi and Gandalf, the ones I'm familiar with) were not disinterested and impartisan.

(The problem of the disinterested "Wise Man" in general, apart from the inapplicability of these examples, I have no quarrel with, and the problem is interesting. Though I can't come up with any examples of such a man, offhand. Hasn't wisdom always gone hand-in-hand with knowing The Right, and thus not being impartial?

The Buddha was not impartial about attachment and nirvana, and he's as close as I can think of. Socrates, Diogenes, all the Greek wise men - not impartial. Are there actually any examples of this stereotype? It's an interesting question because I have the stereotype just as much as Eliezer does, but I can't think of any actual examples of it.)

Gandhi would never have even appeared to consent to the idea that the goal of Indian self-rule and continued colonial status were goals he "could not judge between"; he was openly and irrevocably in favor of the former and opposed to the latter as inherently injust. The Gandhi of the Salt March was a partisan, quite openly and simply.

Likewise, Gandalf had a specific goal - the defeat of Sauron. He might refuse to judge between two things unrelated to that goal (or he might not), but on that subject he had definite and expressed opinions, that were not only that, but not open to change. For instance, refusing to take the Ring when it was offered, and his insistence that its destruction was the only possible strategy.

There was no pretense that acquiescence to the Witch-King's power was acceptable, or that rule there "was no long-term problem" (Sauron) or "no aggrieved" (the entirety of Middle Earth) - this applies equally to Gandhi, in the real world.

In response to You Only Live Twice
Comment author: Sigivald 12 December 2008 08:47:08PM 8 points [-]

But if the drive falls into the hands of a specialist with a scanning tunneling microscope, they can tell the difference between "this was a 0, overwritten by a 0" and "this was a 1, overwritten by a 0".

Not really true.

They can tell that there were various 1s and 0s - but telling what order they were in is impossible ("data written to the disk prior to the data whose recovery is sought will interfere with recovery just as must as data written after - the STM microscope can't tell the order in which which magnetic moments are created").

Not to mention that reading bits with a STEM takes so long as to be pointless ("it would take more than a year to scan a single platter with recent MFM technology, and tens of terabytes of image data would have to be processed") - and that's pretty "secure", in combination, for any plausible meaning of the term.

***

However, more on topic, you said Pumping someone full of cryoprotectant and gradually lowering their temperature until they can be stored in liquid nitrogen is not a secure way to erase a person".

Not at the deepest theoretical level, perhaps (though perhaps not - I don't see any reason to assume that the cryonics process might not in fact be destroying the patterns enough to make there be no information to recover by any means that turns out to actually be possible in the future; remember we know only that it preserves "remarkable fidelity" in the fine structure... we have no idea if that's sufficient fidelity).

However, Iit's secure enough a way to "delete" them if for whatever reason they never get thawed out other than to throw their bodies away.

What about the possibility (probability?) of a sufficient economic downturn or failure of the company before the technology exists to "restore" the preserved "dead", even if we ignore the possibility that current cryopreservation might simply not be preserving well enough?

Alcor is honest about previous thawing events (at other projects), and is also honest enough to promise only that their investments are the most sound they can make. A future great depression sounds a lot like a great time for a thaw, to me - if the bonds tank, nobody's buying liquid nitrogen by the truckfull.

The conclusion that the calculus must come out in favor of cryogenic preservation (rather than, say, investing one's money in either one's living family or some productive trust, if one cares about "the future") seems unsupportable.

I agree that one can honestly and rationally make a choice in its favor, but this post reads more like an attempt at religious conversion to cryo-mania than anything else.

Call me back when a creature has been cyropreserved and then fully restored, and we can use the language of certainty, and talk in terms of "believing in the future".

Comment author: Sigivald 06 November 2008 09:40:07PM 1 point [-]

What John Maxwell said. I don't memorise the name of my Representatives because I don't need to memorise it. (I do, actually, give lots of thought to politics, but at the level of policy, rather than party or individual.)

If I care what he's done supposedly on my behalf, I can look it up (but since I'm very much a political minority, especially in my locality, I don't expect him to represent my opinions very well, and indeed would count doing so as a failure of his democratic duty, though perhaps not of his civic or constitutional one).

Likewise, if I wish to complain to him for something, I can look up his name.

Memorising it would be useful only if I was myself in politics and needed to have it to hand, or as a signaling mechanism to "prove I was politically aware". (Ironically, politically aware in the least important way, but signaling mechanisms are often silly in that respect.)

I am thus rationally ignorant of my representative's name, and that some Congressman at a speech thinks that makes me foolish suggests only that as a Congressman he thinks Congressmen being known by name is far more important than it is.

(Now, he may well be right - or at least not entirely wrong - about "influence", though I suspect donations are a lot more effective than knowing their name in terms of getting any. And I of course speak here for groups in general, being unrelated to the Foresight people and uninterested in cryogenic preservation.)