Archive for September, 2012


The odds of a successful cryonic revival may me one in several thousand, or five percent, or ninety percent; the error bars on the various sub-parts of the question are very broad.

But if those assumptions work out, and if at least some people placed in suspension in the near future will be successfully revived in the far future…

… then are there any useful arrangements which can be made now, which have little-to-no present cost (beyond the cryonic arrangements themselves)?


For example, if someone were to make an announcement along the lines of, “If anyone makes a promise to try to assist in my cryonic revival, and to assist me in getting myself established thereafter; then I promise to try to assist those people with their cryonic revivals, and assisting them, ahead of anyone who hasn’t made such a promise.”, then what downsides would there be to having made it? Would making it create any perverse incentives, which could be avoided? Do the potential benefits, especially the benefit of a potential increase in the odds of being revived, outweigh the potential costs?

Would it be better to make promises to specific people while one is alive, instead of making an open-ended promise? That is, I might try to convince EYudkowsky to make a mutual-assistance agreement with me personally, in hopes that one of us will one day be able to help the other; or I might make the agreement so broad that people can make their promise to help me even after I’m dead.

How large would the benefits be of unilaterally promising to help someone else, without even asking for a reciprocal promise? Or, put another way, how big would the costs be if I were to simply announce that, if it’s ever in my power, I’ll try to assist in EYudkowsky’s revival?


Does anyone care to try figuring out the Prisoner’s-Dilemma-like aspects of this, such as the probability that someone in such a pact would renege on their end of it, and how the terms could be adjusted to minimize the benefits and maximize the costs of such anti-social behavior?


While browsing some of the websites on cryonics, I’ve come across this page, a spreadsheet which performs a quick analysis of the odds of a successful cryonic revival. It allows a user to enter their estimates of various events happening in a given period, such as the failure of the cryonics facility due to various causes, when revival technology will be developed, and so forth. (There’s also a more advanced calculator here, which I’m not going to worry about at the moment.)

What are your best estimates of the relevant factors?


(Or, in case it might save a step: my own current age is 35, and my current estimate of my mean time of death across all my futures is when I’m 78. Given that, what is your best estimate of the probability that I’ll be successfully revived from cryonic suspension?)


I’ve finally decided to take the plunge and make the arrangements for my eventual cryonic preservation. To help myself make sure that I actually follow through with everything necessary, I’m publicly pre-committing myself here to accomplish that.


As initial evidence that I’m actually serious about doing this, I’ve sent an email to The Cryonics Institute today, whose contents were as follows:

I have decided to finally stop procrastinating and make the necessary arrangements for my eventual cryonic preservation, and I have chosen CI to make those arrangements with.

I have looked through your membership pages and online sample forms, and I believe that I can work through my end of the paperwork without any real trouble, although I would still appreciate any advice you have to offer. For example, I live in Canada, about an hour’s drive from Toronto, which might affect which forms are necessary.

Before I send my initial payment, I would at least like to confirm the basic details, and let you know who the money is coming from. It appears that, to start things off, I can Paypal you USD $110, for the yearly membership fee plus the first quarter’s dues; after which I would mail you a physical, signed copy of the yearly membership application. After that, there will be a variety of documents to sign and have witnessed; and the insurance plan to arrange for. Is that a reasonable summary?

For the life insurance, I am thinking of a 20-year term policy with RBC (Royal Bank of Canada). Have you had any dealings with them previously, to know whether or not there will be any problems in setting the Cryonics Institute as the beneficiary? Do you have any recommendations about how large a benefit in excess of the basic USD $35,000 amount the policy should pay out, such as to cover currency-exchange fluctuations or the ‘local help’ rider?

Is there anything else you would recommend be discussed before I make that initial payment and set the ball in motion?


In my latest chapter of my ongoing My Little Pony crossover fanfic, “Myou’ve Gotta be Kidding Me“, my protagonist has had a thought. She has discovered that she lives in a universe containing cross-universe travel (which brought her from Earth to Equestria), time travel (which has at least some limits, but can be used for tactical purposes) and magic (of the mana/spell variety). Before arriving there, she read many of the Sequences, even if she hasn’t fully absorbed all of their implications, and has been rather busy to think on them very much. I’ve tried combining all of that by having her posit that the local form of magic is actually a way of implementing outcome pumps, and that the mysterious ‘mana’ is closely tied to the self-consistency of any given blob of amplitude of quantum wave-functions. My readership seems to generally approve of the technobabble I used

Since this is fiction, I could just as easily have had her posit angels pushing on every electron, and had that be so; but I’m trying to write rationalist fanfiction, and have her strength be in coming up with ideas my readers can use. I haven’t made a concrete decision whether or not to have this set of technobabble be the truth for the setting; but I’m at least going to try to use it as the basis for her to try running some experiments to test it. And, in doing so, cover a bit of ground about such things as the difference between Bayesianism and the social organization of the Scientific Method – particularly given that she feels she is under very heavy time pressure to not just get accurate results, but get them quickly.

Might anyone reading this have any suggestions for improvements to the technobabble I’ve used so far, particular experiments she could try, bits of the Sequences that are worth covering in the process, or anything similarly related?


Doing some insomniac reading of the Quantum Sequence, I think that I’ve gotten a reasonable grasp of the principles of decoherence, non-interacting bundles of amplitude, etc. I then tried to put that knowledge to work by comparing it with my understanding of virtual particles (whose rate of creation in any area is essentially equivalent to the electromagnetic field), and I had a thought I can’t seem to find mentioned elsewhere.


If I understand decoherence right, then quantum events which can’t be differentiated from each other get summed together into the same blob of amplitude. Most virtual particles which appear and rapidly disappear do so in ways that can’t be detected, let alone distinguished. This seems as if it could potentially imply that the extreme evenness of a vacuum might have to do more with the overall blob of amplitude of the vacuum being smeared out among all the equally-likely vacuum fluctuations, than it does directly with the evenness of the rate of vacuum fluctuations themselves. It also seems possible that there could be some clever way to test for an overall background smear of amplitude, though I’m not awake enough to figure one out just now. (My imagination has thrown out the phrase ‘collapse of the vacuum state’, but I’m betting that that’s just unrelated quantum buzzword bingo.)


Does anything similar to what I’ve just described have any correlation with actual quantum theory, or will I awaken to discover all my points have been voted away due to this being complete and utter nonsense?