April 13, 2006

Things that should make cryonicists go "Hmmmm"

At the TTA's recent cryonics talk by Allan Randall, a couple of interesting issues cropped up -- some I had considered before and some I hadn't.

For example, in order to be able to afford a cryonics contract, most people put out a second life insurance policy and name their cryonics company as beneficiary. You die, and Alcor or the Cryonics Institute get the money.

Er, except for one small detail: you're really hoping that you're not actually dead, so one could make the case that you're engaging in some kind of fraud scheme. Just who exactly might contest this? Well, the insurance company for one.

Thinking about it, though, this may not be cause for concern. Perhaps the insurance company won't be around in your future Drexlerian cyborg world. Or, they may not even care so long after the fact. Moreover, insurance companies are aware of what they're getting into and what their client's intentions really are -- so there's no overt fraud being committed.

Another issue brought up at the meeting was the 'right to death' issue. While on the outside it might seem antithetical for a hopeful cryonaut to endorse voluntary euthanasia, it is in fact an issue that is very pertinent.

Suppose you come down with Alzheimer's. As someone who hopes to preserve their brain in the most pristine manner possible, the thought of undergoing an illness that rots away at your most precious resource should be frightening to say the least. Consequently, it could be argued that it should be within your rights to commit suicide prior to the point where Alzheimer's irrevocably starts to damage your brain.

So, as I've argued before, fight for your right to die.

Finally, if the idea of being a cyborg or an uploaded consciousness living in a fully immersive virtual reality seems unappealing to you, you should probably reconsider cryonics. At the very least, you may wish to note your inhibition in your cryonics contract and request a 'do not reanimate' condition if either of these types of existences are your only options. But IMO, the idea that you're going to wake up back in your old biological human body is laughable at best, so you'd best brace yourself for a posthuman future.

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