X-Message-Number: 9045
Subject: Re: cloning vs. (?!?) cryonics
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 1998 13:19:36 -0600
From: Will Dye <>

In Message #9036, Marty Nemko <> wrote:

>> Does signing up for cryonic suspension make any more or less sense now
>> that it appears that human cloning will soon be possible?  

In Message #9037, Joseph J. Strout <> replied:

> I think cloning has very little impact on the rationale for signing up 
> for cryonic suspension 

Joe is (as usual) quite correct about the medical problems regarding 
attaching an aged head to a new cloned body.  On the positive side, 
I believe that there are some of benefits that the cloning issue brings 
to our side of the cryonics arguments.  I'll outline two of them here:

1.  A while back I recall a TV newsmagazine (I forget which) that was 
doing an article on cryosuspension.  When the issue came up of "cloning" 
a new body for the suspended head, they showed some expert on cloning 
saying that cloning "just doesn't work that way".  Here we are, just a 
few years later, and cloning DOES just work that way.  That still doesn't 
mean we have overcome all the hurdles of neurosuspension, but that's not 
my point.  My point is this: one of the main hurdles to acceptance of 
cryonics is that it's easy to find some expert in a current field of 
science that will express severe skepticism about cryonics, based on 
what they know about the current state of their field.  This makes it 
sound like we're a bunch of dreamers who invoke "science", but actually 
don't know what they're taking about.  The pro-cryonics response is 
often some variant of "don't judge feasibility by what is possible with 
EXISTING technology, judge it by what we can reasonably expect to be 
possible with FUTURE technology".  Unfortunately for us, many experts 
just don't look that far ahead.  So... what the cloning developments 
bring to us is this: it is a well-publicized, contemporary example of 
how one of the "expert opinion" objections to cryonics turned out to be 
flat wrong.  We can then follow this up by saying most experts are 
expert in what we can do now and in the very near future, not in what 
we can eventually do; so you can't just take a given expert at their 
word, you have to look at the form of their argument: is there objection 
based on the known laws of physics, or is it based merely on what we 
currenly know how to do?

2.  A second benefit that the cloning issue brings is that it adds to 
the general sense that technology is advancing quickly, and many things 
that were considered science fiction a few years ago became "off the 
shelf" within our lifetime.  Waking up in a far-distant future where 
you are a complete stranger to everyone (and "everyone" may not even be 
what we consider "human") can be pretty intimidating to quite a few 
people.  But waking up just a few decades from now, with many of your 
loved ones to greet you, is less onerous.  Maybe it won't work out that 
way, but it's a nicer thought.  Jim Halperin (as usual) does a good job 
in "The First Immortal" of waking someone up who has old friends and 
family in the world around him, as opposed to being more of a curiosity 
in a zoo.  

I think that there are other benfits, as well as some dangers, but I 
need to get back to work now....


      William L. Dye     \  "...it would seem that our Lord finds our 
       \  desires not too strong, but too weak... We 
  \  are far too easily pleased."  --C. S. Lewis

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