« Start Cloning/Breeding Our Smartest Existential Risk Minimizers NOW! | Main | A post of mine to the comments of Robin Hanson's "Against Disclaimers" post in OvercomingBias.com »

May 27, 2008

Comments

iwdw

I am still awaiting plausible explanations for this counterintuitive state of reality, or, alternatively, confirmatory evidence that the most driven, successful persistence maximizers are lying to us about what they're doing regarding maximizing their persistence odds.

I think you're talking about two different classes of people, here. There are those who very clearly are persistence maximizing -- the ones like Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, etc -- who very likely are lying (by omission or otherwise) regarding their plans for maintaining integrity.

But then you talk about third world dictators, and political leaders in general, whom I don't see in the same class. Certainly they're intelligent, but their persistence maximizing behavior looks like it's more a side-effect of them executing the human political-power-gaining algorithm, not out of any specific rational desire for persistence.

Hopefully Anonymous

iwdw -I'm not convinced, please elaborate about third world dictators and political leaders in general? Political power is monetizable (see for example the three major party presidential candidates still in the running) and thus may just be a comparative economic advantage play for politicians, it seems to me. So I don't see the hard distinctions. But I'm very interested in your more in-depth analysis on this.

TGGP

I thought cryonics facilities were located in the most risk-free areas. Tokyo has lots of earthquakes and New York is right by a lot of water. The middle of nowhere might be a better spot.

Hopefully Anonymous

TGGP, maybe, maybe not. There's a case to be made that being near elites is better than being in the middle of nowhere, because elites will do more to protect their immediate surroundings. But perhaps Westchester or Greenwich, CT is better than the downtown Manhattan business district, and perhaps Oxford is better than London's Square Mile, both for living and for cryonic preservation. This would make an excellent spin-off topic for a LOT more discussion.

Why do you have a problem with "average schmoes"? Robert Ettinger makes a case for freezing "Joe Schmoe" in the book that started cryonics, The Prospect of Immortality. Specifically Ettinger writes:

http://www.cryonics.org/1chapter11.html

The Fallacy of Just-Freeze-the-Elite

One sometimes hears the naive asseveration, "Maybe we ought to save [Winston] Churchill, but why should we save Joe Schmoe?"

The answer is easy, and comes in four parts:

1. Joe, after the future medicos work him over (although not necessarily immediately after resuscitation), will be just about as high-type and just about as useful as Sir Winston. He will no longer be the prisoner of his genetic inheritance.

2. If we are thinking in terms of rewards, perhaps Joe deserves first consideration, since Winnie has already licked a bushel of lollipops. Joe needs to be compensated for the sorry hand he was dealt the first time around.

3. The stratification of society is resented by the people in the lower strata. Even such trifling distinctions as those between master and slave, or between commissar and worker, are only grudgingly endured, if at all. The chance of the masses holding still for the vastly greater split between mortal and immortal is nil. The elite have a fairly simple choice: share immortality, or be torn limb from limb.

4. The benefits to all of society resulting from the long view depend on all of society sharing this view. The Golden Rule must know nothing of class or caste.

In short, the freezer program must embrace us all, with exceptions for minorities who voluntarily reject it. There will be a preliminary slipping and clashing of gears, but this must be kept to a minimum if the world's works are not to fall apart.

Nick Tarleton

Cryonics, to most people, is something only freaks/narcissists/... do, and since I'm not a freak/narcissist/..., they "reason", I'm not interested - to say nothing of reputational concerns, belief in an afterlife, or simple ignorance, all huge factors. Very few people aspire to be, or come close to being, rational truth-seekers or maximizers, and even fewer care about persistence above all else. Most, even most of the relatively rich and powerful, are content to accept the popular beliefs that cryonics is crazy, there's nothing you can do about senescence, and maybe that trying too hard to live longer is un-virtuous.

I'm curious why you think many people are "rapaciously persistence maximizing." iwdw seems clearly right that the vast majority adaptation-executingly seek wealth, power, status for their own sake.

BTW, please PayPal $10 to nickptar@gmail.com .

Nick Tarleton

Also, the power of denial. Planning for cryonics forces you to think squarely about the prospect of death, which is painful.

Hopefully Anonymous

"Why do you have a problem with "average schmoes"?"

Nick, this type of comment is beneath you. I'll ignore it. My assistant should've paypalled you already. I'll let them know. Thanks for the reminder. And finally, your kitchen sink approach to throwing various explanations at my question causes me to think "I don't know" is your answer right now to my question "In a world filled with brilliant egoists, who go to very extreme measure, very deviant from median behavior efforts for extra days of life, it is one of the biggest social mysteries to me why they don't attempt cryonic preservation, yet some relative shmucks like this guy do."

iwdw

"In a world filled with brilliant egoists, who go to very extreme measure, very deviant from median behavior efforts for extra days of life..."

I guess I need some clarification on what group of people you're referring to in this statement. For people like Larry Ellison (who fits that definition perfectly), I have no real problem accepting that he is planning to be frozen, should he be in imminent danger of death. i.e. he's lying.

But I got the impression from your original post that you considered most politicians and billionaires to be engaging primarily in "persistence maximizing behavior", and that wealth and power are simply their particular means to that end. That's really what I was addressing -- I'm of the opinion that most people that seek wealth and power do so for their own sake, based on evolved drives for social status.

People who are persistence-maximizing above all other concerns are probably still very much a minority.

The other angle of argument you can take on this is pointing out that people who are considered "rich and powerful" are probably much more sensitive to the PR ramifications of signing on to cryonics. So even if the massively rich egoists are planning on it, they're not going to publicly reveal it until it's not a "fringe" concept anymore. That would leave the intelligent, but not super-rich-powerful "schmoes" -- those who don't have to worry about looking weird to their shareholders or constituents -- to be the first in line.

Nick Tarleton

I didn't say what you quote.

Hopefully Anonymous

iwdw, you explanations seem like "just-so" stories to me. And I pretty clearly didn't mean "most politicians". I'm talking about very outcome successful people at accumulating not just power, but going through extremely positive deviant means specifically to hold onto life (and not just to money and power). As for not being cryonically frozen because shareholders or voters might disapprove, that doesn't make sense to me if they're engaging in various other behaviors, publicly or secretly, that shareholders/constuents would disapprove of.

iwdw

I'm talking about very outcome successful people at accumulating not just power, but going through extremely positive deviant means specifically to hold onto life (and not just to money and power).

Can you give me a list of people like this, then? I can't identify more than one or two off the top of my head.

My objection still stands -- this doesn't seem like a terribly large portion of the population. I don't see why you're surprised that there's no major infrastructure to support them.

Hopefully Anonymous

People that do ethically questionable (by normative standards) things ion attempt to prolong their lives, like go to a country to procure black market organs, that many people that can afford to choose not to on the grounds of ethics or fear of punishment. Particularly people that do this even when the chance for success or significantly longer life is low. This seems to me to be a natural category of people that would be interested in cryonics, but might be as nontransparent about such interest as they're nontransparent about their interest in black market transplant organs.

Douglas Knight

There are an awful lot of classes of people you are confusing.

I'm skeptical that Forbes knows who the richest people are. People who are visibly rich either want fame or weren't diversified and able to hide their money.

I'm skeptical that the richest people (especially the visibly rich people) are very rational. The people who maximize wealth are those who try to maximize wealth, not those who try to maximize utility. They probably took bigger risks than they should. (I say especially the visibly rich, meaning entrepreneurs, really, because they probably had more faith in their companies than warranted.)

Most significantly, I'll repeat everything iwdw said: people aren't persistence maximizers; people just don't believe in cryonics. Maybe it would be better to say that they don't even notice it. It's plausible that tech entrepreneurs like Gates & Ellison are planning on it, but very few visible rich people. But that's just to say that Gates & Ellison may have shifted their idea of what's possible, not that they're very different from the mass of humanity.

"Do third world dictators get black-market organ transplants?" is a very interesting question. I think we can safely say that persistence maximizers do not become (and especially do not stay) dictators because it's such a volatile job. Moreover, I think we can say that very few build cryonics labs, or else we'd find them when they're overthrown. It's hard to test the organ transplant question. You might expect people to come forward with stories after an overthrow, but it's not like the physical evidence of a lab. I would guess that, at least before medical tourism became so big recently, third world dictators were not so creative as to think of black-market organ transplants.

I guess the medical tourism infrastructure in a third world country is a (rather weak) sign that there is a local persistence-maximizer.

Hopefully Anonymous

Douglas, great, quality, comment and criticism. I don't have time for a decent reply right now, but I hope you revisit often and continue to offer critical insight!

By the way, to others, if I don't compliment your comments, there's a decent chance I think you're wasting my time by commenting here.

Hopefully Anonymous

"The other angle of argument you can take on this is pointing out that people who are considered "rich and powerful" are probably much more sensitive to the PR ramifications of signing on to cryonics. So even if the massively rich egoists are planning on it, they're not going to publicly reveal it until it's not a "fringe" concept anymore. That would leave the intelligent, but not super-rich-powerful "schmoes" -- those who don't have to worry about looking weird to their shareholders or constituents -- to be the first in line."

iwdw, I missed this paragraph last time I read your last comment (I'm not sure I even read your last comment, I may have replied to the one before that).

Very interesting analysis- thanks for sharing it!

The comments to this entry are closed.