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Thread: Alpha view of cryonics

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    Default Alpha view of cryonics

    Lately I've been interested in cryonics, which is cryogenics applied to persons considered clinically dead.

    It seems cryonics attracts a certain type of individual. I'm curious as to whether this might be Alphas, or NTs, or just Alpha NT's or what. My wife is ESE and says she'd rather do full-body cryonics rather than be buried or burnt, but she doesn't like the idea of head-only cryonics.

    How do the Alphas here feel about cryonics? Any of you particularly opposed?

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    I'd consider it.
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    I think it's too likely that it won't work, and I don't mean just for theoretical reasons... also practical and political ones. We're trusting that how much stuff is going to remain preserved for two centuries? And would summoning up the equivalent of a caveman really be better in that future society than giving birth to another child?



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    I find the idea to be interesting. But then I tend to favour novelty over feasibility. I would probably rather watch a movie with an ingenious twist yet far-fetched plot than one that is generally quite good but has its facts straight. Of course, this is just my point of view and everyone is entitled to their opinion... If you prefer things to be the other way around, more power to you.

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    I find the argument that it is a big risk to be rather empty, when you consider that the alternative is to die. You are essentially reducing your risk from 100% to some unknown fraction of 100%. Logically, this is the more conservative choice.

    Societal factors can be influenced during your lifetime. You can't control them, but you can have a positive influence of some kind on them. The goals most favorable to awakening from cryonics are a humanitarian, stable, technologically advanced society. Aren't most of us supposedly working towards that end anyway? Wouldn't it be a positive factor towards achieving these goals if everyone was signed up for cryonics?

    The choice between a baby and a caveman might seem like it should be the baby, until you realize that if you choose the caveman nobody has to die. A baby being unconcieved in the first place is the most moral outcome if the population is approaching its limit. (And what anthropologist or historian wouldn't jump at the chance to interview a real live caveman? You wouldn't destroy an antique vase, why would an antique human be any different?)

    Note that cryonics doesn't need to be just for the rich, and shouldn't be. Economies of scale are highly significant when it comes to cold storage. Thanks to basic geometry, a large containment vessel is far more efficient than a small one. If you increase the volume by 1000, you only increase surface area by 100, multiplying your efficiency by 10. So if one person can be stored at $100/month, a million people can be stored for $1/month. A billion people can be stored at $0.10 a month. With additional insulation (also dramatically more efficient on larger containers) the cost could be reduced even further.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jason_m View Post
    I find the idea to be interesting. But then I tend to favour novelty over feasibility. I would probably rather watch a movie with an ingenious twist yet far-fetched plot than one that is generally quite good but has its facts straight. Of course, this is just my point of view and everyone is entitled to their opinion... If you prefer things to be the other way around, more power to you.

    Jason
    I was initially attracted by the novelty, but I don't think it would have held my interest had it not had some element of feasability. I guess that's how I am with shows. I need a certain amount of weirdness to make it interesting, but am much more likely to keep watching if there seems to be something that ties things together in an internally consistent way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luke View Post
    I find the argument that it is a big risk to be rather empty, when you consider that the alternative is to die. You are essentially reducing your risk from 100% to some unknown fraction of 100%. Logically, this is the more conservative choice.

    Societal factors can be influenced during your lifetime. You can't control them, but you can have a positive influence of some kind on them. The goals most favorable to awakening from cryonics are a humanitarian, stable, technologically advanced society. Aren't most of us supposedly working towards that end anyway? Wouldn't it be a positive factor towards achieving these goals if everyone was signed up for cryonics?

    The choice between a baby and a caveman might seem like it should be the baby, until you realize that if you choose the caveman nobody has to die. A baby being unconcieved in the first place is the most moral outcome if the population is approaching its limit. (And what anthropologist or historian wouldn't jump at the chance to interview a real live caveman? You wouldn't destroy an antique vase, why would an antique human be any different?)

    Note that cryonics doesn't need to be just for the rich, and shouldn't be. Economies of scale are highly significant when it comes to cold storage. Thanks to basic geometry, a large containment vessel is far more efficient than a small one. If you increase the volume by 1000, you only increase surface area by 100, multiplying your efficiency by 10. So if one person can be stored at $100/month, a million people can be stored for $1/month. A billion people can be stored at $0.10 a month. With additional insulation (also dramatically more efficient on larger containers) the cost could be reduced even further.
    I have no problem wiith it, besides the fear that the preserved bodies would be modified before being awakened so that they are easily suggestible or psychologically altered in a controlled/planned way that goes beyond medical necessity.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchonAlarion View Post
    I have no problem wiith it, besides the fear that the preserved bodies would be modified before being awakened so that they are easily suggestible or psychologically altered in a controlled/planned way that goes beyond medical necessity.
    In this case I would consider it not the same person being brought back, but a vaguely similar person being created... which is sort of good.

    @Luke: I'm only worried about the expense; if that proves to not be significant, then I'm all for it. Thing is, it's no good pretending that a billion people will cost less to store than one person - they might not cost a billion time as much, but even if they only cost a million times as much total, that's quite a lot of expense. And if it lapses for a little while, it's all for nothing...

    The choice really isn't between 100% chance of dead and a miniscule chance at life, it's whether the price our descendants will pay is worth that miniscule chance at life (and, perhaps, whether our frozen existence will aid in advancing technology).



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    I don't fear death enough to be particularly interested in this subject one way or the other. Not that it matters, as I strongly doubt that it will become feasible within my lifetime, certainly for someone of my means.


    Plus, it strikes me as a sort of cowardly way to die. Give me a good, wholesome death on the battlefield fighting for a noble but lost cause any day.
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    I plan to live forever, but barring that, I'll settle for a few thousand years.

    Even 500 would be pretty nice.

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    ditto.

    transhumanism ftw
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brilliand View Post
    In this case I would consider it not the same person being brought back, but a vaguely similar person being created... which is sort of good.

    @Luke: I'm only worried about the expense; if that proves to not be significant, then I'm all for it. Thing is, it's no good pretending that a billion people will cost less to store than one person - they might not cost a billion time as much, but even if they only cost a million times as much total, that's quite a lot of expense. And if it lapses for a little while, it's all for nothing...

    The choice really isn't between 100% chance of dead and a miniscule chance at life, it's whether the price our descendants will pay is worth that miniscule chance at life (and, perhaps, whether our frozen existence will aid in advancing technology).
    Money has time value. If you put a small sum into an interest-bearing account that is 1% greater than inflation, the entire storage cost of $1.20/year can be funded for a given individual for $120. Compare to the typical american funeral at $5,000 and this becomes another empty argument.

    The real problem is that with all that money concentrated in one place, there would be people who would be tempted to steal it. If they did, it would amount to murdering all the inhabitants of the facility. There would have to be a dedicated organization to defend the cryonauts from harm, possibly consisting of people whose family members are stored there.

    It seems likely that having individuals frozen at the end of their life would advance technology a lot, because there would be more motivation to do so. Everyone would be anticipating a time when it is their turn to take a long cold sleep. And trying to get out of it. The cure for senescence would be accelerated, and zero-damage cryopreservation (aka suspended animation) would be developed sooner. (Note that suspended animation is different from cryonics, in that cryonics relies on future technology to reverse the damage it does, whereas suspended animation avoids causing the damage in the first place.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Krig the Viking View Post
    I don't fear death enough to be particularly interested in this subject one way or the other. Not that it matters, as I strongly doubt that it will become feasible within my lifetime, certainly for someone of my means.


    Plus, it strikes me as a sort of cowardly way to die. Give me a good, wholesome death on the battlefield fighting for a noble but lost cause any day.
    The choice to be in favor of cryonics strikes me as the bolder and more revolutionary one in this day and age. The goal of universal cryo coverage really does look like a lost cause.

    But I ask you, what cause could be more noble than saving the lives of every living man, woman, and child currently living? What could be better than bringing an end to the daily holocaust that kills 150,000 human beings on a daily basis?

    People ignore these figures and pretend they don't matter, because the deaths are random and natural, and spread over a large population. But they do. Every human being alive today is at significant risk of dying within the next century, and there's nothing noble or wonderful about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by labcoat View Post
    I plan to live forever, but barring that, I'll settle for a few thousand years.

    Even 500 would be pretty nice.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luke View Post
    I was initially attracted by the novelty, but I don't think it would have held my interest had it not had some element of feasability. I guess that's how I am with shows. I need a certain amount of weirdness to make it interesting, but am much more likely to keep watching if there seems to be something that ties things together in an internally consistent way.
    That's sort of what I mean. I'm interested in theoretical physics. One topic that has caught my interest is time travel. While time travel is impractical for the next (?) years and may not ever be feasible, it isn't inconsistent with the laws of physics. That's what makes it interesting - and if it wasn't possible at all, it wouldn't be interesting to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luke View Post
    The choice to be in favor of cryonics strikes me as the bolder and more revolutionary one in this day and age. The goal of universal cryo coverage really does look like a lost cause.
    Haha, this sounds like something a charismatic mad scientist in a science fiction action movie would say.

    Is cryonics more revolutionary in this day and age? Sure. But bolder and more courageous? That's like saying fighting push-button wars with Predator drones and cruise missiles is more courageous than fighting a war on the battlefield with swords and spears. The more courageous act is to face the encroaching night head on, not to invent better and better night-lights to keep the darkness at bay.

    Quote Originally Posted by Luke View Post
    But I ask you, what cause could be more noble than saving the lives of every living man, woman, and child currently living? What could be better than bringing an end to the daily holocaust that kills 150,000 human beings on a daily basis?

    People ignore these figures and pretend they don't matter, because the deaths are random and natural, and spread over a large population. But they do. Every human being alive today is at significant risk of dying within the next century, and there's nothing noble or wonderful about it.
    Poverty is also a terrible problem, but no-one thinks that alchemy is a noble pursuit. Like alchemy, cryonics is an imaginary solution to an insoluble problem.
    Quaero Veritas.

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    I think we're to where we can see how death might be brought to an end, though we aren't quite to the planning stage. But let's not be selfish about this - it's in the best interests of the species to have people live forever (maybe; my elderly statistics professor recently explained one reason that death might be a good thing - old people don't change so easily, so if you want change, you might need to wait for them to die), but it isn't in the best interests of the species to, when we finally gain the technology to manufacture humans, use it to create approximations of an outdated model.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jason_m View Post
    That's sort of what I mean. I'm interested in theoretical physics. One topic that has caught my interest is time travel. While time travel is impractical for the next (?) years and may not ever be feasible, it isn't inconsistent with the laws of physics. That's what makes it interesting - and if it wasn't possible at all, it wouldn't be interesting to me.
    Exactly. Actually it rather disturbs me to think time travel may be possible by current understandings of the laws of physics. It makes me think there's something wrong with the understanding of the laws of physics, but I lack the math background to actually research it, which is frustrating.

    Quote Originally Posted by Krig the Viking View Post
    Haha, this sounds like something a charismatic mad scientist in a science fiction action movie would say.

    Is cryonics more revolutionary in this day and age? Sure. But bolder and more courageous? That's like saying fighting push-button wars with Predator drones and cruise missiles is more courageous than fighting a war on the battlefield with swords and spears. The more courageous act is to face the encroaching night head on, not to invent better and better night-lights to keep the darkness at bay.


    Poverty is also a terrible problem, but no-one thinks that alchemy is a noble pursuit. Like alchemy, cryonics is an imaginary solution to an insoluble problem.
    It appears you do not even take cryonics seriously as a possible method of reaching a cure for the most common forms of death. To me, this simply says you haven't done enough research, or you have been exposed to misinformation of some sort, or perhaps you haven't thought it through completely yet. If you have sources to cite on the matter I could probably offer some rebuttal, but I can't really answer sly innuendo with a straight face.

    As to which is most courageous, it seems we are getting into the realm of the unprovable and subjective. I can only say that to me it seems that to avoid technological change and succumb to a horrible fate as a result, simply because it is traditional to do so, stems from a lack of vision. And I think a lack of vision is part of the same package as cowardice. It seems that to not even try to avoid death when such powerful tools are available is not courage, just stupidity, on the level of not wearing a seat belt or driving drunk.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brilliand View Post
    I think we're to where we can see how death might be brought to an end, though we aren't quite to the planning stage. But let's not be selfish about this - it's in the best interests of the species to have people live forever (maybe; my elderly statistics professor recently explained one reason that death might be a good thing - old people don't change so easily, so if you want change, you might need to wait for them to die), but it isn't in the best interests of the species to, when we finally gain the technology to manufacture humans, use it to create approximations of an outdated model.

    This thing created in the future out of my frozen brain - would it still be me? Anatta - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    The issue of old people being resistant to change is an important one, but most likely it is due to neurosenescence (aging of the brain) which would be a curable condition. You could even set a person's biological age to that of a child for a time, giving them even greater flexibility.

    Bringing back people from ancient times might seem a step backwards from one perspective. But the way I look at it, it would bring greater continuity with the past, which gives a better foundation for future advancement. The important thing is not necessarily to advance as far as fast as possible, but to make sure that gains are not lost to some catastrophic event.

    As to whether the person created in the future would be the "real you" that is a really deep philosophical question. All we can say is that if the memories are mostly the same, the person would not know that it is not you. And that the situation does not seem to be any different when a person wakes up in the morning with memories of being the person from the previous day.

    There is no empirical model of proof that they are the same person. In fact, there's no empirical proof that you are the same person from one second to the next. The continuous nature of time and self is really strange and oddly unprovable when you think about it. All we can say for certain is that it seems that information is passed from one moment to the next in a fairly accurate form and in a manner that consistently follows the laws of physics. In a similar manner, if all the information stored in your brain is preserved accurately, it is difficult to say that you are not in fact the same person.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luke View Post
    The issue of old people being resistant to change is an important one, but most likely it is due to neurosenescence (aging of the brain) which would be a curable condition. You could even set a person's biological age to that of a child for a time, giving them even greater flexibility.
    That could work. It'd be the insult to the old person today, but in the distant future (after a few old people have died ) it may very well solve the problem.

    There is an ethical problem about where the line is between making people more young and making people more suggestible, or rather, the proper place and time for an action which is both of those.

    Quote Originally Posted by Luke View Post
    Bringing back people from ancient times might seem a step backwards from one perspective. But the way I look at it, it would bring greater continuity with the past, which gives a better foundation for future advancement. The important thing is not necessarily to advance as far as fast as possible, but to make sure that gains are not lost to some catastrophic event.
    Having a massive storehouse of frozen human heads with all the knowledge of the past is precarious, as I mentioned before; the value of what you describe will be realized (as in made real) when humans live forever, but cryonics is only a nod in this direction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Luke View Post
    As to whether the person created in the future would be the "real you" that is a really deep philosophical question. All we can say is that if the memories are mostly the same, the person would not know that it is not you. And that the situation does not seem to be any different when a person wakes up in the morning with memories of being the person from the previous day.

    There is no empirical model of proof that they are the same person. In fact, there's no empirical proof that you are the same person from one second to the next. The continuous nature of time and self is really strange and oddly unprovable when you think about it. All we can say for certain is that it seems that information is passed from one moment to the next in a fairly accurate form and in a manner that consistently follows the laws of physics. In a similar manner, if all the information stored in your brain is preserved accurately, it is difficult to say that you are not in fact the same person.
    For this reason, I think that bringing the present people into the future is a mistaken hope, and we should consider rather the benefit of those future people (which is certainly served by preserving the knowledge of the present).



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    I don't have much of a problem with it. As for more pressing concerns...I think people should realise that they need to have fewer children.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luke View Post
    Exactly. Actually it rather disturbs me to think time travel may be possible by current understandings of the laws of physics. It makes me think there's something wrong with the understanding of the laws of physics, but I lack the math background to actually research it, which is frustrating.
    Our current understanding of physics pretty much rules it out - I recall searching a while back for plausible loopholes to put into science fiction; the best I could find involved an object of negative mass (so I promptly gave one to my characters).

    There's always the off chance that something is going to fly through our universe one day preaching the "gospel of 30 dimensions" and offer us a way to travel through time, or we'll actually discover an object of negative mass, so we can't say for sure that it's impossible... however, I think that it is.



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    I was actually in the process of posting a solution to this problem at another forum (armchairexperts.com) before there was a power cut and I forget everything.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Subterranean View Post
    I was actually in the process of posting a solution to this problem at another forum (armchairexperts.com) before there was a power cut and I forget everything.
    You run on electricity?



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    Quote Originally Posted by Brilliand View Post
    You run on electricity?
    Not the sort I think you mean - my brain generates a significant surplus.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brilliand View Post
    That could work. It'd be the insult to the old person today, but in the distant future (after a few old people have died ) it may very well solve the problem.

    There is an ethical problem about where the line is between making people more young and making people more suggestible, or rather, the proper place and time for an action which is both of those.
    True, in a way. Forcing someone into a state where they are more impressionable would be oppressive. More likely, a state of 30 years young or so would be considered optimal -- capable of making sound judgments, but not incapable of learning and adapting. But people will experiment, and some will probably choose to be the eternal "3-year-old" version of themselves. (Of course, let's not forget that some will choose to be talking bears and foxes as well.)

    Really the issue of informed consent will be the big ethical factor -- most people accept this already, I think.

    Having a massive storehouse of frozen human heads with all the knowledge of the past is precarious, as I mentioned before; the value of what you describe will be realized (as in made real) when humans live forever, but cryonics is only a nod in this direction.
    I think most people who are into cryonics are also interested in and supportive of longevity research, which may at some point cure aging. For example there is the SENS project led by Aubrey de Grey. The real question is not whether but when... And cryonics could buy us a lot of time. As soon as the first good longevity pill comes into existence, even if it only adds a few years to our lifespan, it will probably make the first person immortal, because it buys them enough time to benefit from the next advance in antiaging technology. Actuarial escape velocity.

    For this reason, I think that bringing the present people into the future is a mistaken hope, and we should consider rather the benefit of those future people (which is certainly served by preserving the knowledge of the present).
    No, I disagree. The point I was trying to make is that our concept of self is essentially an illusion (maybe illusion is putting it too strongly but you get the drift) based on information transferrence from one instant to the next. You can consider your future self (as in next week or ten minutes from now) as a seperate entity, or you can consider them as the same entity. In both cases you'd be right. When you plan for your future you can't be sure the person of the future is really you, you can only be sure they will think they are you. And that is good enough for all intents and purposes, evidently. So with the frozen head thing you are still essentially talking about saving your life.

    Imagine if you had a copying machine that took an accurate scan of every atom of your body and brain and created an exact duplicate. The copy would have no way of knowing it wasn't you, and honestly when stepping into the scanner you'd have no way of knowing which side you would ultimately step out of. The copy would be just as much the "you" from the past as the non-copy, at least from its own perspective.

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    Currently God Brilliand's Avatar
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    OK, I give - I don't like dead things being gone. Heck, after I wrote the story of the destruction of my imaginary universe, I proceeded to bring it all back with everyone alive, like the final bow after a play. Let everything that has ever lived walk among us until the heat death of the universe... I'm for it.

    Living forever will cause other problems with adaptation... ah... I shudder to think of the conservative vs. liberal battles in a world where everyone lives forever. But what's the worst that can happen? Everyone dies? Then we're back where we started.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Brilliand View Post
    OK, I give - I don't like dead things being gone. Heck, after I wrote the story of the destruction of my imaginary universe, I proceeded to bring it all back with everyone alive, like the final bow after a play. Let everything that has ever lived walk among us until the heat death of the universe... I'm for it.

    Living forever will cause other problems with adaptation... ah... I shudder to think of the conservative vs. liberal battles in a world where everyone lives forever. But what's the worst that can happen? Everyone dies? Then we're back where we started.
    Yeah, dead things being gone really sucks. My thought is that someday we can maybe nanoconvert a few star systems worth of matter into computing power, then analyze interstellar dust for information about the earth at a given point in time. If you look at dust that's exactly 1 light-year away, all of its information about the earth is 1 year old... A light-century away is seeing the earth a century ago. So perhaps you could triangulate the information regarding the arrangements of atoms at that particular point. Then you could reconstruct the minds of humans that died at that given instant. You could also scan further back and restore any memories lost to Alzheimer's or whatever.

    It would be sort of like heaven, but then there's that pesky heat-death thing. And who knows what else, even if that gets solved. Well, at least we can say we tried.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luke View Post
    Yeah, dead things being gone really sucks. My thought is that someday we can maybe nanoconvert a few star systems worth of matter into computing power, then analyze interstellar dust for information about the earth at a given point in time. If you look at dust that's exactly 1 light-year away, all of its information about the earth is 1 year old... A light-century away is seeing the earth a century ago. So perhaps you could triangulate the information regarding the arrangements of atoms at that particular point. Then you could reconstruct the minds of humans that died at that given instant. You could also scan further back and restore any memories lost to Alzheimer's or whatever.
    You'd almost certainly need to study more than the mass of earth in space dust at a given distance to pull this off... although with some assumptions about what the earth was like at that time, we may be able to use the space dust to just fill in the details. Also we'd need to subject the influence of other space dust on that space dust... seems like that would require knowledge of every particle in the universe.

    Quote Originally Posted by Luke View Post
    It would be sort of like heaven, but then there's that pesky heat-death thing. And who knows what else, even if that gets solved. Well, at least we can say we tried.
    I think it would be possible to get around the heat-death, but only if we modify ourselves drastically... it would grow harder and harder to pretend that we were the same people who figured out how to live "forever" way back when, and we would have to think far more slowly.

    On the other hand, if the universe is infinite in size, then it works out like the Hotel Infinity, and there's no problem.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Brilliand View Post
    You'd almost certainly need to study more than the mass of earth in space dust at a given distance to pull this off... although with some assumptions about what the earth was like at that time, we may be able to use the space dust to just fill in the details. Also we'd need to subject the influence of other space dust on that space dust... seems like that would require knowledge of every particle in the universe.
    That is a good point, but it could be quite a bit less than every particle in the universe. Just every particle within the same radius of those particles as the earth. That could be relatively low when you consider the extreme emptiness of (most) space. There could be some really well-preserved data out there...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luke View Post
    It appears you do not even take cryonics seriously as a possible method of reaching a cure for the most common forms of death. To me, this simply says you haven't done enough research, or you have been exposed to misinformation of some sort, or perhaps you haven't thought it through completely yet. If you have sources to cite on the matter I could probably offer some rebuttal, but I can't really answer sly innuendo with a straight face.

    As to which is most courageous, it seems we are getting into the realm of the unprovable and subjective. I can only say that to me it seems that to avoid technological change and succumb to a horrible fate as a result, simply because it is traditional to do so, stems from a lack of vision. And I think a lack of vision is part of the same package as cowardice. It seems that to not even try to avoid death when such powerful tools are available is not courage, just stupidity, on the level of not wearing a seat belt or driving drunk.
    Ach, I'm too contrarian for my own good sometimes. I don't really like debates, and yet I constantly go around provoking them. Let's just say we'll agree to disagree and leave it at that. I prefer to save my debating energies for subjects I actually care about.
    Quaero Veritas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Krig the Viking View Post
    Ach, I'm too contrarian for my own good sometimes. I don't really like debates, and yet I constantly go around provoking them. Let's just say we'll agree to disagree and leave it at that. I prefer to save my debating energies for subjects I actually care about.
    How dare you not care about the exact same thing I care about!

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