TransVision Tuesday Afternoon Session II
24 July 2007 (updated 15 August 2007)
I’m in Chicago for TransVision 2007. Here are some notes and thoughts from Tuesday afternoon session II.
Ralph Merkle discussed how cryonics is making its way slowly into mainstream awareness and acceptance. Cryonics puts bodies into preservation until future tech can revive and rejuvenate. Cooling down is done by today’s tech. Reviving depends on theories of nanotech, depending on assumption that tech will continue to advance. Diamonds, coal, computer chips, sand and people are all composed of the same atoms. We can now arrange atoms more precisely and at lower cost than in past, and we continue to see this advancing. There’s plenty of room at the bottom (by Feynman) described molecular nanotech ideas, building machines at molecular scale. It is theoretical feasible. Experimentally, we can pick up and put down a specific molecule. We’re working on stacking. Eventually it should be no more remarkable than using our hands to do analogous tasks. What is the impact of nanotech on medical tasks? Cells will be gigantic to nanotech arms and small computers. Hundreds could fit in the cell. The arms could clean out arteries or devour bacteria. It could supply oxygen more efficiently. Check out nanomedicine.com for more info. This will produce a revolutioon in medicine. Today, function must be preserved. In the future, only structure preservation will be required. Cryonics is about saving lives, not freezing the dead. We dispute the diagnosis, and want a second opinion from a future physician. Death is defined as a permanent cessation of all vital functions. If cryonics works, the preserved are not dead. Information theoretic death requires that structures that encode memory and personality be lost before one is dead. If you sign up and it works then you live, if not you die. If you do not sign up, you die either way. Life insurance is the financial cost to be considered. To join the experimental group go to alcor web site. To join the control group, you don’t have to do anything. Cryonicists and critics agree that the preservation lasts more than 1000 years. Long term memory looks robust enough to preserve. Short term memory likely lost.
Tanya Jones spoke about the improvements of cryonics today. The goal is to stop cell deterioration, protect tissue from attack, preserve structures, prepare tissues for preservation, then freeze. Standard protocols have been developed. They have 24 to 48 hours to get persons to Arizona for procedures. Proximity to Alcor is critical because of regulation. Faster cooling, better circulation, effective stabilization kits, improved vitrification and fracture-free temperature descent are areas where they are working on improvement.
Shannon Vyff spoke on why she became a cryonicist, how she became involved in calorie restriction, and why she became involved with the Methuselah Foundation. She wrote a book (21st Century Kids) to help children understand what it means to be cryonically preserved. Her husband also provided a testimonial on the value of a hope in cryonics.