X-Message-Number: 9064
Date: Wed, 28 Jan 1998 20:22:07 -0500
From: "John P. Pietrzak" <>

Subject: Re: The Future of Prometheus (and a critique of modern cryonics 
References: <>

Paul Wakfer wrote:

> With your indulgence, I am initiating a discussion of the Prometheus
> Project and its future [...]

Before I say anything, I'd like to thank you, Paul, for your work up to
now on the Prometheus project.  This attempt to advance the state of the
art in suspended animation is, more than anything else, what has drawn
me into the world of cryonics.

And, as context for my further remarks, let me underscore that
statement.  I've done quite a bit of reading lately, on the technology
and the ideology and the philosophy of cryonic storage.  Underneath it
all, the arguments always seem to work their way down to: "This gives
you a 'one in a million' (or other low number) chance of survival.  But
the alternative is certain death.  Which would you choose?"

Well, let me tell you, from what I can see, the odds of any modern day
cryonaut thawing out successfully (at any time in the future) are pretty
darn bad.  So bad, in fact, that even though I agree completely that
it's better than the alternative, I gotta say that that's not saying

So here's my beef.  There are what, four different major groups now
active in the US performing cryonic suspension.  They've learned medical
techniques to optimize the task of cooling the body down, they own or
contract for appropriate facilities to store the frozen body, they have
financial structures to keep the whole show running.  What are they
doing to get those bodies out of those dewars?


The idea seems to be, "If we sit on our hands long enough, science will
eventually advance to the point where it can get us out of this mess."
I know, I'm overgeneralizing here, some research has been done.  But
with questions of "how can we get X to sign up" being thrown around
on cryonet, I'd like to bring up the point that perhaps we shouldn't be
trying to get anyone to sign up right now.  _The_ problem with cryonics
is getting people out of the deep freeze alive, and thats what should
have precedence -- until that is done, I don't see the point to
recruitment drives, particularly since _all_ of the money these people
pay into the system (in all four groups, as far as I can tell) is
spent directly on keeping them in storage, and none is directed towards
getting them out.

This is, to me, exactly the wrong way to go about things.  Until you
know how to successfully bring someone out of cold storage, you aren't
going to know the best way to put them in.  Which brings me back, after
this seemingly endless diatribe, to the point I wanted to make: Paul's
effort with Prometheus was what I've personally been searching for
among the various cryonics societies: a group devoted to solving the
problems of bringing significant multicellular creatures out of the
liquid nitrogen alive, A.S.A.P.

As to the future of Prometheus (and the FLLS) therefore, here is my
desire.  If, as has been stated, the work of the Prometheus project
would simply end up duplicating what 21CM has already started, then
I agree that Prometheus should be discontinued.  But the FLLS (such as
it currently exists) is something that can't be duplicated by 21CM, and
if it has the resources to continue beyond the Prometheus project
(it will hopefully exist at least long enough to complete the pilot
project), I would like to see it put to the following use:

We have four groups in this country already dedicated to putting
people into cryonic storage.  Due to fiscal and other constraints,
they must concentrate pretty much all of their energies on that task.
I would like to see whether we can't put together a society dedicated
solely to the task of getting people out of cryonic storage.  Through
direct research when possible (as with the Prometheus project), or
simply as a clearinghouse for pulling together current research and
implementation data and providing a centralized area for communication
between people working in cryonics and related fields.  It could also
serve as an "unbiased" (in as much as possible) guide to the current
cryonics societies for the layman, and in the future perhaps work on
promoting the use of cryonics technologies, for transplanting organs or
for use with people with terminal disease.  (This is pretty close to the
ideals of the FLLS, I think.)  Finally, lacking the overhead of a
research lab or the maintenance of a large physical plant, it shouldn't
be nearly as hard to support the efforts of such a group. ;)

Perhaps it isn't possible for a charitable organization to compete for
resources with a private corporation, but it certainly seems possible
to me for a charitable organization to facilitate the distribution of
data among researchers, such as currently exists.  Such a group,
maintaining a high profile and a conservative outlook, could help make
suspended animation "respectable" enough for main-stream science to take
another look at it.

At any rate, that is what I would like to see: a society, similar to
Alcor or Cryocare or whatever, but aiming its efforts directly at
solving the problems of suspended animation, in whatever manner it can
effect.  I don't know if it's possible to find the resources to keep
such a group running, but I personally have more than a "one in a
million" chance of surviving at least four or five more decades, and I'd
prefer to invest what time and resources I can spare for now in helping
to solve the problems involved in perfecting suspended animation rather
than simply supporting a group offering me a lottery ticket into the

Just my opinion, pardon the vitriol.


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