X-Message-Number: 16411
Date: Sun, 03 Jun 2001 00:57:11 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Re: CryoNet #s 16400, 16402

Thomas Donaldson, #16400, describes some possible modifications of the 
human form ranging from changes in the brain anatomy to changes in the 
peripherals (more arms, for instance). He wonders if I would consider a 
modified person nonhuman. I think the short answer is that (in my view) it 
wouldn't take many modifications of this sort before the person would 
indeed become "nonhuman"--which is to say, no longer H. sapiens. But to me 
it's not important to remain human per se, what is important is that the 
individual in some reasonable sense survive and develop. How that would be 
accomplished is a difficult issue if you want to get into details, which 
I'm sure are far from worked out, but the general picture seems reasonably 

I'll go on now to Louis Epstein's posting, #16402.
> >
> > Message #16399 Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 22:47:04 -0700
> > From: Mike Perry <> Subject: Reply to Epstein #16390
> > > > I support free choice, but certainly I don't like it when people
> > > > choose death.
> > >
> > >As noted above,I believe they can choose how hard to fight to stay
> > >alive,but not to do anything where death is a known and chosen aim
> > >of the act...where death is the thing the person wanted.
> >
> > Again, I support free choice, even if they do choose death, though then
> > I don't like it. But someone certainly should choose to be cryonically
> > suspended premortem under certain circumstances, though by current legal
> > definitions they would be "choosing death" and might be forcibly prevented
> > from exercising what ought to be their right.
>Absent better evidence that suspension is in fact reversible,
>I don't see that deliberately hastening the cessation of one's
>life processes should be accepted.We have not developed a way
>to stay alive at a hundred below zero with veins full of
>And I don't think even the most ardent cryonicist would
>see time in suspension as offering attractive quality
>of life,compared to what could be spent with breath and
>a pulse.

Oh yeah? Suppose someone has a brain tumor. In a short time, by all 
appearances, it will squeeze his gray matter out his eye sockets, or 
otherwise transform it to goo. All he wants is to be suspended *now*, while 
still in his right mind. He wants this for himself, but doesn't seek to 
impose on others' freedom (beyond denying them the freedom to frustrate the 
choice he has made, which is hardly unreasonable). Are you going to tell me 
you'd use *force* if necessary to hinder this person from getting his wish? 
Thomas Donaldson was one such case. The courts did, in effect, deny him his 
wish to a premortem suspension, with the implication that force, at 
whatever level necessary, would be used to prevent him carrying out his 
wish even though he sought no imposition, in any normal sense, on anyone 
else's freedom. As it turns out, there was an escape hatch in that Thomas 
could have chosen to stop intake of food and fluids and die by dehydration. 
Several Alcor patients have done that, but it is an ordeal, even with pain 
killers. One such person took over 10 days to die and looked like a 
concentration camp victim. Another brain cancer case I know of, whose 
immune system had been weakened by immunosuppressants, managed to 
deliberately infect himself with pneumonia so he could be suspended before 
his mind was gone. These draconian approaches are necessary because, even 
though suicide is legal, you get autopsied afterward unless the way you die 
qualifies as "natural causes." Thomas was lucky; his tumor went into 
remission before he was ready to take the plunge, and he's still able to 
comment today. I think you'll find him a firm advocate of the freedom to 

You say,

"Absent better evidence that suspension is in fact reversible,
I don't see that deliberately hastening the cessation of one's
life processes should be accepted."

But some others *disagree* with you to the extent that they would choose 
premortem suspension *for themselves* under circumstances such as the 
above. I am one of those people. I could be wrong, and they could be wrong. 
Maybe cryonics won't work, though I happen to think it probably will. But 
whether it will work or not, *we should have the freedom to choose*.


> > > > >Have there been any cryonics cases where just a brain was
> > > > >preserved,besides Luna Wilson?
> > > >
> > > > Yes. I don't have a list handy, but there have been several.
> > >
> > >All at Alcor,I presume?
> > >
> >
> > No. The latest comprehensive list of cryonics patients, as far as I know,
> > is from *Cryonics*, 4th quarter 1998 It shows several brain-only's from
> > different organizations. More details if you are interested.
>Well,I guess I don't know the history
>well enough.What organizations have
>offered brain-only preservation in the

Officially, it hasn't been "offered" in the sense of "advertised," but it's 
done on a contingency basis, depending on circumstances. Besides Alcor, I 
think both ACS and Trans Time have done brain-only's. In one case, 
apparently relatives objected to removing the whole head, so just the brain 
was taken. Another involved a suicide victim who was autopsied (a legal 
requirement, probably like the Wilson case) and his brain removed.

> > >Is there a published number of how many
> > >whole-body patients Alcor has preserved?
> > >Probably MUCH fewer than CI.
> >
> > I can tell you that Alcor currently has 15 whole bodies
> > (I think CI has 38) out of 44 patients overall.
>So unless ACS and Cryocare(which preserved two
>and I don't know if they were whole body) have
>23 between them...CI has a majority of the
>presently preserved whole-body patients?

I know they don't have so many, so you can assume CI has the majority.

>(Alcor inherited the salvageable CSC bodies,
>I gather,not sure where CSNY's went...)

The only "salvageable" case that CSC handled was that of James Bedford. He 
was frozen in 1967 by CSC but stored only briefly by them before being 
transferred elsewhere by relatives. Miraculously, he remains in suspension 
today. The CSNY patients were transferred by their relatives out of the 
care of that organization, and were all subsequently lost. A good lesson 
here is not to depend on relatives to maintain you. Bedford was lucky, but 
he is maintained by Alcor now.

>As far as transporting patients into the future goes...
>James Bedford has already been taken 34 years from his
>clinical death.I don't know how much better 2001's
>treatment of lung cancer's is from 1967's,but revival
>of frozen bodies is not much less beyond us now than
>it was then,I expect!

On the other hand, in 1901 I bet most people would have considered powered 
flight about "as far beyond us" as it was in 1867, just after the Civil 
War. For what it's worth, I don't expect to see revival of frozen bodies in 
2003 either, but progress can surprise you.

>I've been told the earliest-born cryonically suspended
>person was born around 1888...that could mean that the
>cryonicists might soon hang an asterisk on who the
>oldest living person is,depending on definition.I am
>presently aware of five living people documented or
>very likely to be documented as born before 1888.

As far as I know, James Bedford is the earliest born (of those still 
frozen), his DOB being April 20, 1893.
> > >Where you see us as modifying ourselves,I see us as having an
>  >unprecedented capability to avoid having to modify ourselves.
> >
> > Both prophecies could come true. Note you say "avoid *having* to modify
> > ourselves." Not *having* to do something you don't want to do should be
> > your right so long as reasonable corresponding rights of others are
> > respected. What I see is a future where options will increase. Many, if 
> not
> > all, will eventually, voluntarily choose modifications, I think, because
> > they will feel them advantageous.
>While I consider it wrong in principle,
>and that the more we are able to nullify
>considerations that might compel us to
>change ourselves,the less we can justify
>changing ourselves.

I think people "will do what they will" and the day will come when that 
will include significant modifications amounting to enhancements, including 
higher intelligence. Those who want to stop this will, I predict, find 
themselves up against a superior force and not able to suppress it.
> > >
> > >Abandoning your body is certainly tearing out your roots!
> >
> > I don't see it that way at all. I've certainly abandoned the body I had as
> > a young child. It's the memories that are important, not the physical 
> housing.
>But your body organically turned itself into the one
>you have now...you didn't wilfully discard your
>child form for something biologically inconsistent
>with it.

The effect is that I still have a rather different body than I once had.

>I don't see the physical format as separable
>from the essential respects of what you are.
>A freshly printed book is not as old as the
>first writing of its words.

The book itself, to me, is not just the printing, and it *is* as old as 
"the first writing."
>I am,whatever the Yudkowskians
>may think,on protoplasm's side.I will defend
>it against any imitation lifeform.

To me protoplasm must be considered alongside any competitors that physics 
may allow; some of these may be better. But I am no Yudkowskian, if I 
understand their position right. I don't think we'll want at all to create 
an automated "big brother" to take care of us! (There's a science fiction 
story I remember about this idea; unfortunately, I've forgotten both title 
and author. But the basic theme is that an automated system is created to 
care for the human race and solve its problems. It does, using only methods 
approved by the people involved, who remain happy throughout, so long as 
they are conscious. Then it shuts itself off. Of course, by then all the 
people have been "shut off" too, permanently. They don't really give 
permission, but are not in much position to resist as events run their 
course and they get progressively dependent and helpless. In real life, I 
think freedom of choice will guard against *everybody* or most people 
falling into such a trap, though a tradeoff may be that some unavoidably will.)

> > > > Again, one must ask, what does it mean to be human?
> > > > To my thinking, it doesn't depend, in principle, on the stuff 
> you're made
> > > > of but on how that stuff functions, processes information, and so on.
> > > > Additionally, "being human" is just a stage in the life of a hopefully
> > > > growing and developing individual.
> > >
> > >Certainly no (non-theological) precedent for that.
> >
> > Well, there is a precedent, call it what you will. And I think it is
> > becoming increasingly feasible to address this issue scientifically,
> > without invoking any mysticism.
>What precedent are you citing,then?
>You don't make it clear.

Nothing mysterious. You said "no (non-theological) precedent"; okay, it is 
theological, i.e., this is something theologians have considered. But I 
think now we can approach it scientifically too. One book that does this 
Robert Ettinger's *Man into Superman*; another, more recent example is my 
own book, *Forever for All*.

Mike Perry

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