Questions from a newb/potential patient

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BRuss
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Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2022 6:11 am

Questions from a newb/potential patient

Post by BRuss »

Hello. I have no background in medicine or cryonics, so please forgive me if I'm wildly off base with any of this, but I am strongly considering the process for the relatively near future and will probably base my decision upon the results of my speculation:

1. I am fundamentally uninterested in the preservation of those qualia that make me "me" - memories, identity, personality, etc. (I'd rather be a semi-sapient chatbot than nothing). I am solely after the continuity of perception in whatever form. I further have zero interest in biological resurrection of any kind. Accordingly, I believe aldehyde (which to my understanding fuses the connectomes that make the personality possible) is the best solution for me.

2. I have no long term faith in the stability either in any of the extant cryonics firms or in society writ large. The traditional cryofreezing process, it seems to me, is highly dependent upon a specialized chain of relationships (the continuance of liquid nitrogen production, electricity etc.) I don't trust. This again inclines me towards a simple aldehyde bath.

3. It's profoundly speculative and possibly silly, but I would like to be stored for the longest time possible - thousands of years. I'm uninterested in being awoken into anything like or directly descended from current society, cyberpunk futures and the like. For me, it's postbiology or bust. As I understand it, again, an aldehyde pickling is probably better suited for this than a more "traditional" cryopreservation.

My strong inclination therefore is simply to get my brain submerged in aldehyde and placed on a shelf for millennia, as traditional cryonics are too fragile and dependent for the ultra-long-term hibernation I envisage. The possible destruction of the brain structures associated with continuity of personality are a small price to pay for this.

TL;DR: I don't expect revival to be possible in the next few centuries because of cascading social collapse, and so distrust cryofreezing. I am fine with a method that allows for only the resuscitation of the locus of my awareness, rather than my personality. I therefore need a method that allows for safe storage for vast periods of time. I think that's the aldehyde bath.

Is my logic here faulty on some level I'm not seeing?
jordansparks
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Re: Questions from a newb/potential patient

Post by jordansparks »

Welcome.
1. There is a kind of memory called "semantic" memory. These are the facts of how the world works and how you choose to interact with the world. You might not need all your other memories, but you'll need those semantic memories to know how to talk, what a bird is, etc. Without your semantic memories, you'll need to start over, crawling around on the floor, learning about your environment at the rate of about 1 bit per second through experimentation. Now, the good news is that your personality comes almost entirely from your DNA. That means it should be possible to make a new mind based on your DNA, fill it with a generic set of semantic memories that we all obviously share, and away you go. But nobody in the future will necessarily want to revive you in this manner. Why would they choose to base this new person on your particular DNA instead of one of the billions of other options? So you will need to ensure that it happens somehow and a preserved brain is a great catalyst. However, generic semantic memories are not as good as your unique semantic memories. Even identical twins do not think about the world in the exact same way. If one twin is killed, it's a bit of a stretch to say that there is continuity of perception because the other twin survived. So the best approach is to preserve as many memories of all kinds as possible, even if you think you don't care about episodic or implicit memories. The more you preserve, the less work they will need to do in the future, and the better the result will be.
1.5 Just so there's no confusion, preservations involving aldehyde work equally well for those who are only interested in biological revival.

2. Tissue does degrade over time, so cryopreservation should be included for good results. In your case, I would also worry slightly about the aldehyde bath patients being treated like second class patients. In other words, maybe degradation is generally so bad that nobody will even try to revive those. We simply don't know yet how bad the degradation will be. You will certainly lose some of those semantic memories, which seems like a bad thing.

3. As you said yourself, storage is very risky. You want your storage to be as short as possible. Trust me. In storage, you are helpless and are subjected to a series of risks that all add up to huge risk in a short amount of time. See http://www.oregoncryo.com/riskManagement.html. I personally think that uploading will be far easier from an engineering standpoint than biological revival. So if you're gung ho for uploading, then you won't have to wait very long. The fatal flaw in your plan to sit on a shelf for 1000 years is that all the shelves will crumble. There must always be someone actively working to prevent your destruction for the entire time. As for social collapse, that seems to be restricted to fairly predictable pockets of the world that can be avoided. I'm not quite sure what do do in the case of extensive global social collapse. I think the people with power and money are highly motivated to prevent that.
BRuss
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Joined: Sun Feb 13, 2022 6:11 am

Re: Questions from a newb/potential patient

Post by BRuss »

I had considered the semantic memory problem before; my assumption was that this is a problem which would largely resolve itself - if you're being uploaded, your entire frame of reference is going to shift so massively that the overwhelming majority of the semantic memories you rely on to operate biologically won't be relevant.

As for risks, there are various kinds of risks. A cryopreserved individual is subject to risks of collapsing complexity- supply chains for liquid nitrogen collapsing, runaway inflation while in stasis, etc. The primary risk to an aldehyde pickled brain seems simply to be neglect: humanity might forget about the poor brain in a jar. If I were you, I'd consider storing the aldehyde brains in a vault of some kind.

I completely agree with you with respect to being treated as a second-class brain if you go the aldehyde route. It seems like class issues are going to be baked into this process also, as seemingly with everything humans do.

My best layman's guess is that the royal road to mental upload runs through plastination, which isn't offered as a commercial service anywhere in the world yet. An aldehyde pickled brain should be able to be plastinated. My hope is that any future AI will be able to make enough educated guesses about the structure of the neural connectivities lost as to produce a reasonable approximation.

I probably won't be doing this for another five or ten years (my intention is to pay the full amount in advance and then reside in Salem). As long as your pricing structure doesn't begin to approach Alcor's, I should be able to do the full cryopreservatiom, but it is a point worth considering: there are people who might be priced out even of your much lower rates who would nevertheless strongly consider the more economical (and potentially less collapse-susceptible) aldehyde bath method were sketched out in more detail. My guess is tgat, economically, it would resemble something like a fast food model - full cryopreservation is your big ticket item, but brain baths are the value menu meals that get you by.
jordansparks
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Re: Questions from a newb/potential patient

Post by jordansparks »

Well, it took you about 20 years to build those semantic memories. Just because we get uploaded doesn't mean they are obsolete. Most aspects of our civilization would transfer just fine to a virtual environment. There should still be plenty of social interaction. The physical world will still exist and we will still be trapped in this gravity well around the sun for many hundreds of years. Computer construction, power generation, and physical security will all remain hugely important, and those will all require physical interaction with the real world using robot avatars. I think your sematic memories will serve you just fine and it won't really be as different as you think.

If the liquid nitrogen runs out, your brain would still have the initial aldehyde preservation as a backup. This is not hypothetical. Some dewars were stolen in Russia a few months ago, and the bodies thawed to some degree. A brain that has been preserved with aldehyde and cryoprotection would not get destroyed if thawed. Just cool it down again when able.

Plastination is not a viable way of preserving memories. I'll need to get into some science detail, but I'll try to keep it high level. The first step of plastination is aldehyde preservation. This locks many of the proteins in place in a lattice. Good so far. Normally, this also locks all the fats and small molecules in place pretty well because they simply have trouble diffusing through the protein lattice. But in plastination, they intentionally remove all the fat and water, including all the small molecules, by using strong solvents and heat. Yes, you still have a wispy protein lattice remaining, but it's devoid of detail. Unfortunately, the brain is mostly fat, so there's not much left when you strip out the fat. They don't care about the fine detail because this is just done for macroscopic entertainment, so much of the initial protein lattice is intentionally destroyed in the process. Even under a microscope, there's not much detail to look at. Under an electron microscope, all that's left is vast expanses of plastic with an occasional protein strut. The memories have been destroyed.

I realized after I wrote the above that you were probably not talking about plastination as done by von Hagens, but instead as done by Mikula. Mikula used OsO4, a very dangerous, expensive, and rare metal, to lock the fat molecules in place. Yes, in theory, that could work for humans, but it's very difficult. He only did mouse brains, which are very small. I think it's too hard to scale that up to human brains. It's expensive, it's highly technical, and it's prone to failure. Human brains are not in good condition compared to the pristine mouse brains used, so I just don't see it as viable. The wonderful thing about liquid nitrogen is that it's guaranteed to stop all molecules. There can't be any little areas that escape the cold.
jordansparks
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Re: Questions from a newb/potential patient

Post by jordansparks »

Yes, I've been thinking about concrete vaults lately as one of the next obvious improvements. A concrete vault would have stopped the theft in Russia. The building that we just finished had originally been planned as just an underground concrete vault. For many complex reasons, it was easier to build a standard industrial building first and then build the vault inside the shell later. So now I'm trying to find the best place for the vault. My favorite advantage of building the vault inside the shell is that there are no waterproofing issues.
BRuss
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Re: Questions from a newb/potential patient

Post by BRuss »

jordansparks wrote: Sun Feb 13, 2022 7:31 pm Yes, I've been thinking about concrete vaults lately as one of the next obvious improvements. A concrete vault would have stopped the theft in Russia. The building that we just finished had originally been planned as just an underground concrete vault. For many complex reasons, it was easier to build a standard industrial building first and then build the vault inside the shell later. So now I'm trying to find the best place for the vault. My favorite advantage of building the vault inside the shell is that there are no waterproofing issues.
I also wish you and Alcor and CI would get your heads together for a long-term strategy in case something ever should happen to any or all of you. It's probably not possible for the moment, and I have certain issues with the other two organizations that I don't have with yours that would make me hesitant if ever I were to end up with one of them, but it's better safe than sorry.

As far as the vault goes, what you say makes sense. To the best of my knowledge, Oregon is tectonically inert, so there is no threat of earthquake, making a vault the way to go if you can afford it.
jordansparks
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Re: Questions from a newb/potential patient

Post by jordansparks »

We're tectonically inert except for every 400 years, there's a massive earthquake 50 miles off the coast that causes a tsunami with 100 ft waves. There's a 37% risk of this in the next 50 years, and if it happened today, approximately 20,000 people would die from the tsunami. Even though this is a large and scary event, it's also extremely rare. So when we calculate risk, the annual risk is actually very low. The building codes have been updated to require the buildings to stand long enough for people to evacuate, but it would make no sense to require buildings to regularly withstand this earthquake because they likely won't need to. We designed our building with steel framing and a light sheet metal and foam exterior paneling. A massive earthquake won't even faze this building. Low reinforced concrete will also hold up just fine. But we do need to add damping systems around the dewars to help them ride out the 5 minutes of shaking. The building is also built on a rocky hill instead of down in the flat valley where the earth would liquify.
BRuss
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Re: Questions from a newb/potential patient

Post by BRuss »

jordansparks wrote: Wed Feb 16, 2022 1:28 pm We're tectonically inert except for every 400 years, there's a massive earthquake 50 miles off the coast that causes a tsunami with 100 ft waves. There's a 37% risk of this in the next 50 years, and if it happened today, approximately 20,000 people would die from the tsunami. Even though this is a large and scary event, it's also extremely rare. So when we calculate risk, the annual risk is actually very low. The building codes have been updated to require the buildings to stand long enough for people to evacuate, but it would make no sense to require buildings to regularly withstand this earthquake because they likely won't need to. We designed our building with steel framing and a light sheet metal and foam exterior paneling. A massive earthquake won't even faze this building. Low reinforced concrete will also hold up just fine. But we do need to add damping systems around the dewars to help them ride out the 5 minutes of shaking. The building is also built on a rocky hill instead of down in the flat valley where the earth would liquify.
I saw on the news earlier that the Three Sisters may be active. Is this any kind of threat to your operations?
jordansparks
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Re: Questions from a newb/potential patient

Post by jordansparks »

No.
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