note - graphics that were in the paper edition have been deleted in order to save web space. They were just there the liven it up, they were not illustrations or figures. Original date of publication probably February 1990 - no mention on front cover.
Status Report Format, travel, subscription increase John de Rivaz
Letters Names, book exchange, Karate
Three Friends David Pizer
The Future of Companion Animals John de Rivaz
Investment and Cryonics Benjamin Best
Future Revival with the Help of Information Klaus Reinhard
Pre-Mortem Freezing - the L.A. Law Episode Anonymous (not available in electronic format)
The Brian Haines Letter Brian Haines
The Mike Zehse Letter Mike Zehse
Who the Hell are these Six Jailbirds? David Pizer
(1997 note - for historical interest only)
Our subscription list is creeping up again, with the return of a few stragglers who suddenly realized that their subscriptions had run out, together with some new additions.
Possibly due to the time of year (the last issue appeared early in December) we have received fewer articles than usual. Readers are asked to send in any useful and original articles or letters, preferably in camera ready form for direct copying.
In order to make up the newsletter, I am therefore reprinting an article of mine that originally appeared in Venturist Voice, on a topic that may stir up some controversy.
Also this issue I am running to 22 sides again, as this will make up for the 16 page issue I put out at the start of the volume. After that we'll probably revert to 20 pages, because if I post them in plastic envelopes I can just get them through for 15p instead of 24p. The last issue was individually laser printed, at least for the pages I typed. However this was rather costly in toner, and it tended to crease pages when I did the backs. Therefore I am going back to photocopying, but I will photocopy laser masters, so you'll still get the benefit of Times Roman typefaces. I would be grateful if authors who have computers with 5.25" disks to send their articles on disk. The disk can be returned and this will enable it to be printed in all its glory in Times Roman type. Formats in order of preference:
1. IBM WordPerfect
2. IBM MSDOS raw text. (Most word processors produce this. See your manual if you are not sure on how to do it.)
3. Qdos or CPM raw text.
4. Qdos microdrive raw text. (Pack well, don't just put in an envelope.)
I have also got a Panasonic flatbed scanner, and I was hoping to be able to read in your text. However the OCR program was execrable, and I would be grateful if any reader with computer experience can advise on a GOOD OCR program I could buy. I don't mind paying for a decent program, but one that stands a reasonable chance of recognising common fonts and runs properly without locking up the computer every so often would be a help. (I should have thought that dot matrix would be the easiest to recognise, but not with the program I was sent. I suppose I have been spoilt by the faultless perfection of Word Perfect products! A pity they don't do an OCR program.)
However the scanner will enable me to improve the illustrations, and also I can scan in some articles as graphics and size them to the pages.
You will notice bands at the top and bottom of each page, and at times strange clouds will appear in the bands. These clouds are unique to each copy of Longevity Report! I decided to make a feature of the fault of the photocopier that does this. I could have left large blanks at the top and bottom, but why not make a decoration out of it!
Of course if I could get the circulation up to 200 copies or more, then I could have a proper magazine printed, as our companion Fractal Report. This has A3 sheets printed that are professionally folded and stapled.
Trips and conferences.
Each year there are usually three to five cryonics or life extension conferences. Most cryonics people are "born tourists" (Larry Niven World out of Time), and often travel large distances to meet each other. A few of Longevity Report readers may be concerned that I do not attend the conferences, in the UK or abroad. Superficially this could be taken as a lack
of friendship or stand-offishness. However it is simply that I do not like travel and have not organised my life to take being away from home for more than a day into account. That is to say that it would now be very difficult if not impossible to integrate travel with my other activities even if I wanted to.
It could be said "Why not make an exception and attend just this one" referring to some particular trip. The problem with this is that once one has been singled out in this way, it increases the slight against the majority which are still ignored.
Therefore I would call upon the readers of Longevity Report not to be slighted by this, and indeed if some of you do attend conferences or make trips that contain events that may interest other readers, then please do write in with your experiences.
Advance warning of subscription increase.
The subscription price of Longevity Report has remained at 5 (UK) for the past two volumes. It was hoped that the fact that this doesn't really cover production costs could be met with book sales. Our other newsletter which is of similar size sells for 10 (Fractal Report). As we are now making an effort to attract some of the 400 readers of Fractal Report to Longevity Report, the differential seems unfair, especially due to the fact that book sales are still well below the amount needed to make up the difference. Although Fractal Report is professionally printed and bound, it is no more expensive to produce as there are economies of scale.
Therefore from the next volume Longevity Report will be 10 (UK) 12 (Europe) and 13 elsewhere ($23). However we do plan some concessions, and one of them will be that we will take back old issues in part exchange for new subscriptions provided they are in good enough condition to be used as samples. Naturally we urge people to keep their copies for future reference, but anyone who may find raising 10 a volume in future a problem could benefit from saving old issues now, hence this announcement. The other concessions will be announced later, and the arrangement where contributors get free subscriptions will remain. The only restriction will be that you can't add up concessions to reach a negative number and get paid to take Longevity Report!
Nevertheless, this present volume will be produced in its entirety at the present price, so if you want to tell your friends, then this is the last year that they will be able to buy Longevity Report at 5 per volume. As renewal time isn't for some while yet, no existing subscriber need send any money now.
From Paul and Maureen Zzyzzycrowski
Thank you very much for the issue number 18 of the Longevity Report, it gets better with every issue.
We, my wife and I, read with great interest the Mike Zehse letter, in particular the comment pointing out that people whose names begin with the letters S through to Z have more health problems than those from the letter A through to R.
This was of particular interest to us as we are currently in the process of changing our name to Zzyzzycrowski.
We are doing this because, as even a cursory examination of your own local newspaper will confirm, people are now dying in alphabetical order!
[Oh dear, Paul Michaels has seen the recent repeat of that Dr Hfuhruhurr film The Man with Two Brains again. -ed]
From Mr Sydney Shaw
Thank you for sending the Longevity Report and inserting the notice about books to exchange or sell. Unfortunately you printed the address wrongly.
It should be 39, Drewstead Road, Streatham, London, SW16 1LY. I like the large clearer print of the Report. With best wishes for 1990.
[Sorry about the mistake. (8 instead of 3) If anyone wrote and got no reply, please write again. Or if you didn't write, then now's the time to do it. Here in Cornwall a postman would notice a wrongly addressed letter and correct it. -ed]
From Mr Jerry Thompson
With reference to Mr Edward P. Bell's letter in Longevity Report 18, I quote as for Karate it teaches one thing and one thing only and that is how to respond with violence. This is a view which I feel displays a total lack of knowledge and understanding. I would like to quote Girchin Funakoshi (1868-1957), not a bad job of longevity, a man credited by most historians for the introduction of Karate from Okinawa to Japan: "Karate is no different from the other Martial Arts in fostering the traits of courage, ingenuity, humility and self-control in those who have found its essence." A contradiction to Mr Bell's concept!
After 20 years of interest in the Martial Arts, Karate in particular, I have found the vast majority of practitioners not mindless thugs inflicting violence at every opportunity, but dedicated people with a conscience.
With a little thought, perhaps Mr Bell would realise the best form of self defence is being able to run faster than your opponent - a perfectly valid (sensible) Karate technique put forward by Funakoshi himself.
Genuine Karate is, I believe, as much a spiritual art as it is a physical one, each one complimenting the other.
by David Pizer
Against great odds we stand alone
With only three wise friends
Science, Courage and Reason
On them our life depends.
We are told by five billion mortals
We are destined to their grave ends
Can five billion fools be smarter
Than our mighty three wise friends?
Science, Courage and Reason
Our loyal and most trusted friends
Their virtue is always in season
Their friendship pays big dividends.
We are different from normal fools
We use deduction for our future designing
We refuse to rely on fool's rules
Of just wishing and pining and whining.
The fools would have us acting like them
Get excited over movie stars
Worship simple minded sports-heros
Hunger for new hair styles and fancy cars.
The fools would have us be like them
Mindless, mean and misled
Forsake our three friends for their values
And eventually be dead.
They pressure us to change
"Join us" they daily discuss
"Give up your stupid ways" they call
"And try to be more like us".
Our outlook they try to dispel
The fools can not seem to perceive
The wonder just what the hell
Are we really trying to achieve
To find truth is our aspiration
Regardless of who it offends
To reach an endless destination
Ruled not by fools, but by three wise friends.
John de Rivaz.
The phrase "companion animal" has been used instead of the word "pet" to indicate a greater understanding and compassion for living things.
Already a miscellany of cats and dogs are in cryonic suspension awaiting their owners. It is clear that many people place great value on the companionship of animals. It has also been shown in learned papers that there is definite therapeutic value in keeping certain animals.
Cats have been living with humans for thousands of years. Probably the relationship was initiated because cats exterminate undesirable rodents, but over the years breeding has reinforced feline appearance and traits that please humans.
Of course, some animals make better companions than others. For example there are reasons why it is not a good idea to keep monkeys. They are likely to carry diseases that are easily transmitted to humans. Some animals are unsuitable because of temperament and/or strength.
Cats and dogs are the most popular pets. Dog owners say dogs are more intelligent because they can be trained, whereas cat owners claim that cats are more intelligent because they aren't so silly as to allow themselves to be trained!
However a human is an animal, and therefore another human can be regarded as a companion animal. Do humans make ideal pets for humans?! To an extent it depends upon sex. Mortality statistics suggest that women can survive the loss of a spouse more easily than men. Therefore on average a man probably receives more from the companionship of a woman than vice versa. Nevertheless, the astronomical profits of the divorce industry suggest that such companionship is not without its dangers. Although it appears that men receive more from the companionship, women seem to get the most compensation if it ends.
However I do not want to go into the extraordinary punishments levied by society upon those who chose the wrong companion in this article. The fact that the financial penalties for choosing the wrong companion are greater than the penalties for many serious crimes is something I simply don't understand therefore I can't write much about it.
Of course, a man and a woman live together for more than companionship, but taking a natural lifespan as a whole it is probably the companionship that ends up being the most important part of the relationship. That companionship is sometimes enriched by the keeping of a companion animal. If a couple can't have or chose not to have children, then often keeping companion animals fulfils a need.
Now many relationships are far from perfect. Indeed the fantasy film Splash made the point that a perfect relationship is so rare that it is worth leaving all one's previous life behind in order to pursue it. (This is probably what a lot of people think they are doing when they divorce one partner for another, but the chances are that it is all a cruel illusion.) The fact is that both people probably want the same thing from the other but are unable or unwilling to give it themselves.
Soon, we will be in a position to engineer lifeforms much more quickly and exactly than by the process of selective breeding.
To start with one may get an animal machine that performs a useful task. Already a cat will groom its coat by licking it. It seems to us to be a horrible thing to do, but cats have been doing it for millennia, and they seems to like it. In fact they like it because they are programmed to do it.
Humans have babies because they desperately want to. Very few people see that having children is a terrible drain on one's life with the minimal reward, despite several serious and humorous treatises that have been written on the subject. Women will risk their lives in operations to correct infertility. If there is a choice between saving the mother's life or the child's at birth, some religions and cultures will demand that the mother be sacrificed.
Yet if you step back and look at it coldly, you could argue that it is cruel and sick to create a being that wilfully allows itself to feel unwell for nine months and then suffer great pain to produce an offspring. Yet very few humans take this viewpoint. Therefore I suggest that it would not be cruel to design a catlike creature that is programmed to enjoy thoroughly spending its entire life going around a home licking up dust and going outside every so often and defecating it into holes in the garden. There are plenty of nutritious particles in house dust (house mites live off them very nicely, thank you), and the cat-cleaner could therefore live off the dust, and possibly some external supplementation. This animal could be designed to get as much pleasure doing that as could an ordinary cat gets killing mice. In addition it could be made to purr and sit about looking relaxed etc just like an ordinary cat. Some slight randomness could be added to the program so that to all intents and purposes the cat-cleaner would appear to have as much "soul" as an ordinary cat. Of course, such an artificial animal would not have a defined lifespan and arrangements could be made to for periodic saving of the program and data to prevent death by accident.
They could also reproduce in the same way as ordinary pets, but possibly with the safeguard that they can only be fertile if they are first given an additional supplement that they can't find in the natural environment.
Such an animal introduced into a human household could only bring benefits.
Since it is virtually impossible to match up humans so that each partner behaves as it wants to yet pleases the other (a rational definition of an ideal match), an alternative would be to create a human like animal that somehow models itself to human behaviour in a sort of mirror image to be an ideal companion. Science fiction would suggest that such beings would eventually take over. A well known example is Star Trek's Mudd's Women. It was a theme so popular that a second story was written about the "likeable rogue" Harry Mudd. However the androids only took over with the help of Captain Kirk as a punishment for the "disgusting idea" of creating such beings. An android's program could be made so that it would not want to take over.
However the Star Trek story does give us a tiny glimpse of a sensible idea. When the androids were turned against Mudd, they terrorised him like the worst caricatures of nagging wives. Kirk suggested that this process would reform him into a "useful" human being. Of course, it clearly wouldn't.
It is known that people often pick up the traits of their companions. Women are advised that if their husband's behaviour suddenly changes inexplicably and he displays new mannerisms, it could be because he is seeing a lot of another woman and is picking it up from her.
Therefore a suitably programmed artificial human companion could whilst pleasing its owner gradually modify his behaviour.
Therefore a household could consist of two real humans and two artificial humans. The artificial humans would be programmed to have a sole purpose in life to educate and improve the real humans, and to integrate their behaviour. I would expect that such an idea would at present be repulsive to most people. However I don't find it illogical.
I don't find it any more unethical to create beings whose sole purpose is to improve and help humans in the manner described, that it was to create humans in the first place. I would stress that there would be no coercion involved, as with Mudd's Women after modification by Kirk. In fact with my proposed idea Mudd wouldn't have noticed his "women" had been changed at all!
Humans have after all one simple purpose in life and that is to create and nurture other humans, often at great distress and effort to themselves. It is interesting to note that humans are given bodies that are the finest examples we know of self repairing machines. However these facilities have been designed to last just 40 odd years, just enough to produce and look after a child. After this time the self repairing mechanism slowly goes to pieces, leaving the human to perish in agony.
The proposed new beings would find perfect fulfilment in helping humans. Humans usually fail to find fulfilment in producing children. The new beings would also be physically immortal, and by a process of recording could be invulnerable to death by accident. Humans die of old age and accident, often in pain and distress.
Also, it could be possible to have the automatic processes of the body switchable to control by the higher level of intelligence to deal with injury and illness. However intelligent design (as opposed to evolutionary design) would make illness much less likely. Rather than suffer in pain after injury, the proposed being could choose to dump program and data into a store and then shut down. Then a human could make a new body for the android and play the program and data into it. If it was damaged so much that such action was not possible, then the most recently recorded program and data could be used in the replacement.
Thus the new beings, whether cleaner-cats or human analogues, would have a more enjoyable life than present-day cats or humans. It will not be unethical to make them.
This article initially appeared in Venturist Voice 2,3 Summer 1987. In editorial comment, it was suggested that "The idea of immortals whose sole purpose centres around the happiness of others is a little disturbing (as are people who appear to exist today only to please others). The situation could be remedied by a healthy dose of self image and a feeling of intrinsic worth. If necessary each one of us should be able to stand alone, and this should apply to any intelligent being we create." Also, "Artificial animals, such as the cleaner-cat, is a dilemma which actually exist with the natural product too, connected with what their ultimate fate should be. Should they be allowed to die when they have served their purpose, or should they be teased into intelligent beings and made immortal, or shelved and kept indefinitely in a dormant state, for example?"
As a footnote on divorce, since the article was written it was suggested by the life insurance industry that husbands should insure their wives' lives for 250,000 or more, as that it the amount of capital that would have to be invested to raise an after tax income sufficient to employ someone to perform the domestic duties of a wife and mother. There is an interesting corollary to this. In divorce proceedings the legal profession adds together the capital and income of wife and husband, and then divides it. Should the sum of 250,000 therefore be included in this sum and notionally form part of the wife's share, and be attached to any children that are looked after by the wife?
I have by no means given up on the permafrost issue, despite the fact that I am very close to completing my suspension arrangements with Alcor. The latest issue of Canadian Cryonics News (repeatedly delayed in publication) should provide new food for though and action concerning PCI - and I am also exploring many other avenues and contacts.
I can't really understand the point you were making in the Venturist Monthly News about Permafrost Cryonic Internment (PCI) terminology. Alcor people object to the word "cryonics" because they don't want to have liquid nitrogen suspension associated with permafrost preservation - claiming the latter cannot preserve identity and that it is dangerously misrepresentative to claim it is "cryonics". Substituting the word "Immortalist" for cryonic does not address this issue. I will have more to say on these matters elsewhere. [The substitution divorces the issue from Alcor and other cryonicists. Surely that is all that need concern them. -ed]
Carlos Mondragón never replied to the 27 August 1989 letter I sent him, a copy of which is reproduced below. I have spoken to him by 'phone, but not about the letter. You may publish all or part of it if you wish. I have decided not to press the matter or ruffle any feathers, but I'm not terribly impressed with Alcor's money management policies (and non-policies) or inflation consciousness. Nonetheless, it might not be so bad as top lead to failure, even if it is sub-optimal. For now, Alcor is the best game in town, as far as I'm concerned.
I realise that I can do better for long-term investment than to buy life insurance, but what if I die in the interim? That's the value of life insurance. [And you pay for that value! - ed]
Saul Kent's Reanimation Foundation may well offer the possibility of a "trust with direct investment in stocks". Best of all, it would be a perpetuity trust in Liechtenstein. I wrote to him about this almost two months ago, but he had not replied.
Universal Life Insurance policies in Canada and the US now offer an option which effectively amounts to Whole Life policies where the cash value portion is invested in a tax-sheltered mutual fund (which could be an equity fund of stocks). Universal Life has gone far to displace Whole Life in recent years.
Here is the text of the aforementioned letter to Alcor:
27 August, 1989: I have opted to finance my suspension with a $150,000 (Canadian) Permaplus B policy from the Financial Insurance Company with Alcor as irrevocable beneficiary. This policy is a guaranteed permanent term-to-100 product. Premiums and face value will increase incrementally for 15 years (when I will be 59). At that time the face value will be frozen at $300,000 (Canadian) and the premiums at about $3,000 per year with guaranteed renewals to age 100, at which time the $300,000 will automatically be paid. There is an option to discontinue paying premiums after 15 years and be guaranteed $150,000 to age 100 (or payment at 100). At current exchange rates $300,000 is roughly $130,000.
I feel satisfied that my insurance represents a responsible effort to finance my suspension, but I have serious doubts that it, or Alcor, can deal with inflation - whether it be hyperinflation or "normal" inflation. Certainly hyperinflation (anything over 20% per year for an extended period) will decimate the value of my insurance. But even with "normal" inflation (5% per year), $300,000 will have a real value of less than $25,000 in 50 years.
I don't think the solution is to buy more life insurance. I do like life insurance from the point of view it is relatively invulnerable to lawsuits and insures against inadequate suspension financing in the short term. But over the long-term, even term insurance is really a low-return, inflation vulnerable investment. At best, it can buy the time for estate building.
Suppose that I had bought a $100,000 whole life policy. At 5% annual inflation the $100,000 would have a real value of under $10,000 by the time I reach my 90s. Would $10,000 be enough to pay for my perfusion and suspension? I realise that Alcor reserves the right to increase its fees, but such fee increases seem less an option than an inevitability, given the inexorable forces of inflation. After age 60 or 70, the costs of buying more of any kind of insurance becomes pretty prohibitive. I can imagine someone committing suicide in anticipation of adequate suspension funding becoming unavailable. A whole body suspension can revert to neurosuspension, but what option would a neurosuspension member have? Arthur McCombs has suggested to me that with any fee increase, existing members would be "grandfathered" and that only new members would pay the higher fees. This might work as long as Alcor is a growing organisation with new members greatly outnumbering, and able to finance, the "grandfathers". But it would not be a good financial policy for a "steady state" organisation wherein the rate of gain of new members equals the number of members going into suspension. It might put Alcor at a competitive disadvantage with other cryonics organisations which do not have many "grandfathers" to underwrite - and if so, Alcor might have even more serious problems getting new members. Worse, Alcor might fail financially.
I object to Alcor's policy of investing its suspension funds in T-bills. T-Bills are a good place for a corporation with a large short-term liquidity excess to temporarily park its funds. I don't think they have any role in a long-term investment plan such as is required for suspension. The security they offer is illusory. The price paid for the apparent responsiveness to inflation is a lower return compared to longer-term investment instruments. And you also have more frequent transaction costs, which further lower the return. T-bills probably do offer more protection against unexpected hyperinflation than other fixed income investments (bonds). But every time an increase in interest rates occurs as a result of any increase in inflation, you are stuck for up to 60 days with the below market interest rate. I believe this, and the lower nominal return of T-bills, is why the statistics indicate a zero real return (not return expressed in the apparent growth of inflated dollars) for T-Bills over a span of decades. You can't even get much benefit from a fall in interest rates because of your short renewal time. Anyway, a lot of unexpected hyperinflation could easily happen within a 60 day period. Equities, not fixed income investments (bonds, T-bills, etc), offer long-term protection against all forms of inflation. And when equity is held in the form of ownership of productive business (stocks), the returns are the highest.
Of course, only a crystal ball could answer the question of what your costs are going to be over the next 50 years. You may experience an influx of new members and develop economical mass storage capacities.You may suspend more wealthy benefactors like Dick Clair (Jones). Certainly Alcor looks more viable at present financially and otherwise than any other cryonic organisation.
I would prefer to see Alcor have its suspension money invested in a diversified portfolio of stocks. I would also prefer to see a suspension preparation financed by combinations of term insurance and inter vivos trusts of diversified portfolios of stocks or no-load equity mutual funds - both having Alcor as irrevocable beneficiary. Pricing these portfolios may be difficult, but their value should be the responsibility of the member, not Alcor. Once again, this puts Alcor in the ethically stressful position of having to decide what to do with a member with inadequate funds. But I think such circumstances will be fewer than can be anticipated with present policies which take little heed of inflation.
I would like to know more about Alcor's policy concerning members with trusts over and above those of the minimum suspension funds. Does this imply that certain individuals could be maintained in suspension while other have to be buried due to a failure of general financing?
I realise that there will be people who object as strongly to investing in stocks or equity mutual funds as I object to T-bills, because of the popular "casino" image of the stock market. Suspension financing through individual perpetuities maintained in Liechtenstein would seemingly allow people the option to peruse their own investment beliefs. Unfortunately individual financial arrangements mean Alcor would be confronted with pulling the plug on financial duds - as opposed to the present policy of everyone sinking or swimming (suspending) together. I only wish Alcor's financial policies inspired more confidence in me than they do.
Another idea might be for Alcor to quote suspension costs (based on 5% inflation per year) depending on the age of the member and expected age of death ( since with a large number of members, these figures would average out.) This leaves the responsibility for financing methods with the member. Or Alcor could prepublish anticipated suspension fees for any future year based upon 5% annual inflation - and institute an automatic fee increase yearly. Although this schedule will not be adequate for an unexpected hyperinflation, it will at least be superior to Alcor's present policy which seems to be based on the assumption that inflation does not exist.
Anyway, I am throwing in my lot with Alcor for now, and it is my hope that my criticisms, suggestions and support can contribute to the stability of Alcor and the eventual success of our efforts to achieve immortality.
Future Revival with the Help of Information.
Important scientists, for example Professor Marvin Minsky, Dr Ralph Merkle, and Dr Hans Moravec, say that intelligent and self conscious computers are a possibility for the future. And they agree to the information paradigm;"If the essential contents of your mind could be transferred into a brain-like computer, then that computer would be you."
Information can not only be stored in brains and computers. It can also be stored on paper, tapes or microfilm. Even inner mental processes such as thoughts, feelings, and visual images can be recorded and stored by these means. If we describe them by words or drawings, other people can understand the essentials. Anyone who wants to protocol his own thoughts, memories feelings etc in detailed diaries does note need particular talent as an author. While writing, he need only imagine that he must explain his thoughts and feelings to someone else.
You cannot write down all your thoughts. However, as important memories and thoughts come back more frequently, you can record in the course of some years enough information about yourself to describe approximately your personality and your life history. Of course, along with your diaries, you should also keep photos, notes, personal documents and so on. As these records can be preserved, the question arises: Is there some chance that you can be revived in future only with the help of the records?
Naturally, such a revival cannot be reached by simply transferring the information from the records into a computer. If we read a word we combine it with a complex set ("packet") of further information, e.g. about the appearance of the denoted object, its qualities, its relationship with other objects, activities or abstract concepts, and about the feelings connected to it. Therefore the thoughts and memories described in the records only by words or drawings must be completed by adding such information packets.
A great part of the information in these packets is not individual. All members of a nation have a great knowledge of their native language, and about the world in which they live, in common. If you only take the members of a definite social group, the common features are even much greater. Individual information packets, eg packets that contain information about familiar persons, can be reconstructed with the help of diaries and photos.
Consequently, after further advances in artificial intelligence and neuroscience, it will probably be possible to compute from the records, and from knowledge about the world in which the diarist lived, a network of information packets, very similar to that which was stored in his brain. The network emerges simply from the fact that each information packet contains information about its relationships with other packets. So the information packets are never isolated. They are combined into a complex structure.
Researchers in artificial intelligence and cognitive science, such as Douglas R. Hofstadter, say that the information content of the brain can be described by such a network. Therefore the network of the reconstructed information packets can be considered as the reconstructed brain information of the diarist. Hofstadter calls the information packets active symbols, because they are represented in the brain by neural formations which can actively process information. In a brain-like computer, the information packets have to be stored in a system of billions of electronic modules. This system must be able to simulate all performances of the human mind.
Dr Moravec expects that building such a computer, which can control a man like robot, will be possible as early as the next 50 to 100 years. Most researchers in artificial intelligence say that a brain-like computer, which can do everything a man can do, must be aware and able to feel. Consequently, if the brain information constructed with the help of the diaries and other records is loaded into a brain-like computer controlling a man-like robot, this machine will probably be aware and feel like the revived diarist.
After his revival in the machine, the diarist will remember who he was before and see his new life as a continuation of his former life. If he feels uncomfortable with a second life in a robot, it might also be possible to download his reconstructed brain information into a new biological body created after his desires.
However, it is obvious that cryonic suspension preserves a higher degree of identity. Cryonic suspension and later nanotechnological repair will probably preserve the complete information content of the brain. Therefore it would be very unwise to make no cryonic arrangements. Personally, I have collected comprehensive information about myself. Furthermore I have made arrangements so that this information is preserved in several copies for unlimited time. But I am also trying to make arrangements for cryonic suspension, because I wish to maintain my full identity.
Unfortunately making such arrangements in Germany is much more difficult than in the United States. But I do not intend to give up. I will do everything I can to make cryonic suspension possible for immortalists living in central Europe. If you would like to discuss any of these ideas or if you are interested in the preservation of your records or of your genes (eg by chemical preservation of tissue samples), please write to Klaus Reinhard, Feldstrasse 155, D-2300 Kiel 1, West Germany.
Douglas R. Hofstadter: Godel, Escher, Bach; 1979, p369
Ralph C. Merkle, Hans Moravec The Immortalist,August 1988
Marvin Minsky: Interview on West German TV, 13 September, 1988
PS. You might ask whether a random resurrection could effect the same as a revival with the help of information or even a successful cryonic suspension. However this scenario is too unlikely. Our universe is too small for that, and there are no proofs that there are other universes.
Some people want to live on in their works, but I prefer to live on in my apartment. - Woody Allen.
Seriously, though if several different non conflicting actions are taken towards immortality, then clearly there is a greater chance that one will work.
Simultaneous publication with The Immortalist
Thank you for your letter addressed to me at my cottage. Sorry I have been so long in replying, but we comfrey barons are so busy collecting the stuff we don't always get around to answering the mail.
What has happened is that I have my place in Devon and I have lived there for many years but of late I have been involved in trying to rebuild. This meant I first of all pulled the inside to pieces; that was the easy bit. Now it is so uninhabitable I have spent less and less time down there except at holiday periods when I have to set out and try to become a builder., It is rather odd that in this age of unemployment I have been quite unable to get any help at all with the work. So I have spent Christmas humping wheelbarrow loads of concrete around the place.
I have long been concerned with this problem of creating wealth. To my mind the only really useful member of the community is the farmer who does produce what we all need: Food! Whatever a factory may produce, no one can eat nuts and bolts. But the odd thing is agricultural wages have been the lowest. Clearly something is wrong with the economic system.
Now you make the point that a court case can cost more than building a small village, and really I suppose you are saying that the service industries are all parasitic. Certainly most people think lawyers are. And yet someone has to sort out problems that arise. And these people have to eat as well. I suspect that you have been reading Henry George whom I must say I admire. But the problem is such economic theories are too simplistic and do not take into account of the complex nature of our present society. We do have international money dealing, we do have international trade, we do have a consumer society. Inflation does not have just one cause. It was this belief that sent Mr Lawson on his way. Inflation has been rampant in all periods of our history and the economists still can't control it. In some ways I am not sure that it matters very much. I do not feel any worse off that I did twenty years ago. In many ways I am able to make my money go further. If you have no money at all then it certainly won't make any difference. If something cost 1 or 20,000 you still can't buy it.
In spite of what I say about the unemployed ( and I do think that they are a load of parasitic moaner who have no idea of what poverty is like) I have an idea that they are vital to the economy in a strange sort of way. In the same way that a war beefs up production the unemployed provide a lot of jobs for others. We now need the unemployed because they are an industry in their own right. They are not people but products! This is why I tend to look down on the unemployed, because they have ceased to be individuals, they are cans of wogits on a supply line. Of course they have an option to be people again. Unfortunately for them, once they have settled for the dole queue, which is the supply line, they simply remain there devoid of all motivation. And, man, in order to live this life you need motivation! Life is about getting up and looking after yourself day after day. Life is satisfaction in having done something for yourself.
Well, that is my new year message. Happy New Year! I though your last edition of Longevity Report was the best I have seen.
By the way, I saw an obituary in the Daily Telegraph for a gent who died aged 101. It said he was the last surviving member of a force who fought at Gallipoli. It must have been a coded message that he was now in cryonic suspension!!!!
Farmers are indeed vital to our existence, and will be until such time as food can be created nanotechnologically. However eating is a part of life's cycle, just as breathing, growing, sweating, urinating, defecating, giving birth and indeed dying. Humans evolved brains capable of thought as opposed to automatic response because it enabled them to evolve in competition with bigger and stronger animals, or smaller and more prolific ones. This evolution however should take humans outside the evolutionary system altogether.
The discovery of writing enabled humans to broadcast information one way through time, and this has enabled a vast resource of dead people's thoughts and discoveries to be of use to the current generation. No other species can do this. By this method we have learned to control matter. Firstly it was by heaping stones on top of one another, and indeed structures such as the Great Pyramids have stood the test of time. Then came chemistry and metallurgy, the invention of various forms of motive power beyond muscle power.
The introduction of electricity has transformed civilisation, and the next similar transformation will be the introduction of nanotechnology. This will enable us to use individual atoms as building blocks, and to challenge God's nano machines, viruses and bacteria, on an equal footing. Diseases from cancer, AIDS to the common cold will be eliminated by nanotechnology, as will the horrific cycle of the slaughter of animals for human food. I know that farm animals wouldn't exist but for the need to feed humans, and that they don't undergo the indignities of old age, but is the slaughter house any better way to go?
Farming is a process that transforms the atoms in the ground into foods to eat. This is done using solar energy to grow crops which are eaten by animals that are themselves killed and eaten by humans. Nanotechnological food machines can be mixed with soil and left to do their thing in a reactor, and whatever food you want will be available when the reaction is finished. Nothing need suffer or be wasted. Once a nanomachine is made for a particular food, it will cost virtually nothing to duplicate - rather like the silicon chip today. The main cost of such products is in their design and distribution.
Immortalists are interested in going beyond the birth/death cycle. Some have indeed written that they want to go beyond the eating/defecating cycle as well, but most would be happier with settling into an immortal body that looks and feels just like their present one before taking on any further change.
As to inflation, I am afraid I haven't heard of Henry George. If I ever find the time obviously I ought to read some of his works. It was once suggested that inflation is one the ways wealth passes between the generations.
Young people borrow money at interest rates well above the interest paid to old people for their savings, both of which are below the inflation rate. Therefore they acquire assets, usually houses, at less than their real cost, the cost being borne by those whose savings are eroded by inflation. The present government put a stop to this by charging realistic interest rates. Of course, they came unstuck when they caused panic house buying a couple of years ago by removing tax relief on mortgage interest for two people sharing a house. It is my view that single act brought to an end Mrs Thatcher's economic miracle. By forcing house prices above their natural relationship to the average wage, she forced an extra twist to the inflationary spiral.
I think that one feels worse off when contemplating the cost of everyday items, and unavoidable charges, such as rates, which are soon to be a capital or poll tax. It may be "Community" but it certainly isn't a "Charge", because it bears no relationship to consumption. Certainly technology and manufacturing have produced better products, the most noticeable being computers. The other problem is the ratio between the hourly rate charged by professionals and the average wage. I would be very interested to know whether there is an official figure for this, and if so what it was say ten, twenty and thirty years ago.
I was discussing this with my accountant (whilst complaining about his bill) and it appears he charges roughly ten times the average wage in this area. He said that some others charge as much as 25 times the average wage. Thus in the extreme case the jobbing window cleaner or gardener, say, has to work 25 hours to pay his accountant one hour to do his books. If the accountant took a day, then the window cleaner would have to work nearly a month for no pay just to meet society's demands that he keeps books and makes tax returns.
William Wilberforce had something to say about people working for no pay, and I think his demands were met in 1833 ...
As to "the unemployed" I feel that it is dangerous to group people together. I could absolutely guarantee that your assertions are correct about some of them, but there are no doubt many that would be happier if they could find a satisfying job. It is my belief that one should try and make work for oneself. As Mr Haines notes, it is very difficult to get a good builder. It does not take much training to many decorating and light house repairs, and the government offers training and "enterprise allowance" schemes for people starting out on their own.
As an immortalist I cannot understand why humanity doesn't have a war spirit against death. It is the enemy of everyone. As much as one can analyze oneself, I think the root cause of my resentment of taxes and unavoidable professional fees is that I know this wealth is just being sucked into the birth/death cycle.
Alcor publishes the number of suspension members it has. My following comment is centred on Alcor, but it could just as easily apply to any other organisation, and it shouldn't be taken as a criticism of Alcor or any of its officers.
Looking at the January 1990 issue of Cryonics I see that it has 150 suspension members. Presumably this includes Mizar members. Lets do some sums. I am going to make some very approximate assumptions, so the result could be double or half which I make it, but nevertheless it shows the magnitude of the problem. Assumptions:
1. An average age of 40.
2. An average age of suspension of 80.
3. Set up charges paid to intermediaries are $2000 (these may not be obvious in the case of life insurance.
4. Cost of life insurance over ordinary investment is 5% per year.
5. Everyone has neuro arrangements, costing $35,000.
6. All figures are based to present day prices in terms of inflation, ie premium and payout) index linked policies exist. (Which in fact they don't.)
Loss due to set up charges: $300,000
Annual loss due to lost investment opportunities: $525,000 per year, or $21M over 40 years, not compounded. Compounded at 3%, (a reasonable interest rate after inflation) we get the result of $40,733,230
That means that collectively Alcor suspension members have lost collectively about $40m over 40 years. Once they are in suspension, those members' funds are Alcor's in reality, regardless of any legal wording. The management should not look upon money that suspension members pay out to make their arrangements as being unimportant. It is irrational to point clients to professionals and regard the costs as irrelevant because it is clients' money. Ultimately it will be Alcor's money! It is Alcor as a whole that loses $40m to the professionals who run life insurance companies. I would be the first to admit that these calculations are very rough and ready, and I am aware of "Garbage in Garbage Out". I know that I have some readers who are experienced in life insurance and I know that there must be a gap between successful direct investment in equities and indirect investment via life policies. (The administrators must be paid their 25x average wage, and of course the life risk has to be paid for.) If I could have a more exact and authoritative calculation and analysis as to the overall loss the to the cryonics movement I would be most grateful for the opportunity to publish it in Longevity Report. Clearly if Alcor is losing money of this magnitude to professionals, then really it ought to do something about it. The sums involved outweigh by several orders of magnitude the Dick Clair legacy or the legal costs that surround it.
Many thanks for Longevity Report 18. Each issue gets better and better. (I don't say that just because you're kind enough to print my letters: in fact I'm always surprised to see them reproduced at such full length.)
I'm glad that my vital point about Louisiana hit home. I can almost hear Mr Haines whining in pain and disbelief. He tries to cover his humiliation with a rather laboured air of exasperation but I think we know who came out the winner in that little battle! [Well, Mr Haines of course!!!-ed].
I assume I'm among the folk who need to take a little advice before rushing into print, but Mr Haines doesn't say from whom I should take "a little advice". I could approach a down and out on the Embankment or stop a stronger in the street, or does he mean I should take advice from him? Presumably you also need advice as you share some responsibility in seeing our erroneous effusions make their way from manuscript to printed page. [I hope the readers find your arguments with Mr Haines amusing reading - ed.]
I think engineering technology as espoused by Buckminster Fuller will soon put paid to work. The resources of the Earth and space will sustain us all without Brian's concern about freeloaders. Alas the halcyon era may come too late to ensure my own survival. [Caution - similar things were said when steam energy first appeared - writers said it hailed the end of work. Nevertheless I am myself optimistic about nanotechnology. But will we all have to still work like stink to pay the needs of lawyers and accountants? Land can't be made by nanotechnology, and we will still have to have some upon which to set our nanotechnological housebuilders to work. The trend to cheapness in manufactured goods already exists -but what about services? If you think you can get by without services, then remember that 30% of MPs are in the legal or accounting "industries" and they will pass laws to see that their friends on the outside get plenty of work. For example, wills and probate, conveyancing (I know its been made a wider market, but they haven't made a house as easy to buy as a car, even though they could cost the same. New car = 5000 = terraced house in Northern England)-ed.]
My Life! It is indisputably true that my life has been (irreparably?) blighted by many things but fortunately my "promising life" has not been affected by Ritalin. I only ever took this drug recreationally, experimentally or occasionally. [Maybe so, but how do you know it's effects aren't long lasting and pervasive? - ed.]
I saw a poster up on a board at St Thomas' Hospital asking for volunteers to test a new skin cream. I wondered whether this may be Retin A and sure enough it is. And one gets paid 75 in three instalments. [Mr Zehse sent me a copy of the form. The treatment lasts for at least six months, during which the participant gets some cream to use on face, hands and forearms. This may either be a placebo or Retinyl Ester, which is hoped to be as good as Retin A without the side effects. Women have been known to threaten suicide if their doctors won't prescribe Retin A, a POM, for facial wrinkles. The participant has to undergo skin elasticity tests, and donate a 4mm, length or width unspecified, piece of skin from the forearm three or four times during the six months, leaving a small scar. Not so good if you're getting the placebo! -ed]
What the hell's going on! on an earlier occasion you deliberately downgraded my post code from 6 to 5: now you're tampering with the letters -H transmuted to T. Is it merely a fetishistic need to fidget around post codes or is it some deeper Freudian malaise? [Neither, just a simple shortage of time. I try to answer letters quickly, but Mike Zehse sends in so many that it is often necessary to put them to one side in order to deal with other enquiries. However he is to be assured that I always have a good laugh at his jokes and appreciate the newspaper cuttings he sends. In general, the length of reply and attention a correspondent gets is inversely proportional to the amount of other stuff that comes in on the same day.]
[Mike Zehse recently ordered a subscription to Lifequest from the proceeds of payment for a Retin A trial he has joined at St Thomas' Hospital. He sent us this review of the first five issues of Lifequest.]
I enjoyed the Lifequests. A Place by the Sea (issue 2) was particularly impressive; it was so powerful and mesmerising one almost got the impression of reading the same pages twice over. Are the Rockwells of defense technology fame? [No. They are pen names. -ed] Leigh could consider submitting Save the Whales (issue 3) (possibly re-titled A Christmas Story?) to a cat fancying magazine if she could find one where the editor had a good sense of humour. (Apparently cat magazines have a surprisingly large circulation!) or some more general pet magazine, circulation ditto.
As a firm chipmunk supporter I was delighted to read Grandpa Chippers (issue 2). Wasn't there a 1950s pop group called The Chipmunks? If this sentimental story was ever serialised on the radio they could use their music as background.
Have you upgraded your WP equipment. [Yes - ed] Your letter has a clean crisp effect. I note that you also failed to sign it. Further evidence of secret antagonism towards me or a cunning ruse to deny authorship if we subsequently become involved in acrimonious dispute? [No - it was unintentionally left out in the rush of time.]
Being busy travelling is surely no excuse for not dealing with an "interesting idea" (Bishop of Durham). The early church was founded on peripatetic dialectical activity.
Who's responsible for those witty illustrations in Longevity Report? I like them. [They are stock drawings for desk top publishers. I have now got a scanner, so if there is anyone out there who would like to produce a series of drawings or cartoons with an immortalist bent, I would be keen to add them to the stock. I could possibly publish them worldwide on the public domain computer software system. This could result in increased readership for Longevity Report and interest in immortalism. - ed]
Ted Bell is probably correct in his view of Karate (Longevity Report 18.11) People who are innately unpleasant seem attracted to it. I recall a famous Japanese instructor telling me how the floor was "velly slippely
with blood" when he fought some championship in Hong Kong. I think there's usually something suspect in the psychopathology of men who want to learn a fighting art. Tho' it may be that if one is violent, attendance at Karate classes helps one to channel and control that aggression then it fulfils some purpose.
I think Akaido is probably the best martial art. The practitioners I've met seem reasonably sane. The emphasis is (or should be) on developing skill, technique and inner strength (ki) with respect and gratitude to your opponent for allowing you to practise your skills.
I note that the man who battered his 5 year old daughter to death in Bristol was an exponent of Tae Kwan Do. Like most child batterers he had been brutalised himself as a child, and has internalised a warped, sick regard for macho violence.
There seems to be a lot of unresolved conflict and anger with contributors to Longevity Report sniping at each other in its columns. [Mike Zehse then goes on to give a graphic fictional account of a Karate contest between readers. Garret Smyth and Mike Price are high on his list of Zen style retribution for failing to answer letters.]
Wonderful news! Mizar received a mention in LBC last Saturday (30 Dec) - synopsis of Medical Matters in 1989. Recollected from memory. "January - A firm headed by a London estate agent offers to freeze people and subsequently bring them back from the dead. A cut price rate is offered for heads only." [Hardly an understanding mention, I'd have thought -ed]
Who the Hell are These Six Jailbirds?
by David Pizer
Who the hell are these six jailbirds
Are they magnificent prophets
Or just Bumbling Nerds
Do they articulate wisdom
Or just mumble frail words
Tell me please tell me
About these jailbirds
Just take a minute to rest your mind
And ready my commentary
I don't mean to be unkind
But, who is this man, Mike Perry
His voice is wellknown when he answers the phone
And he treats every caller as a dignitary
He wants his own clone. So he won't be alone?
Who is this guy, Mike Perry
He paces the floors
He rechecks locked doors
His own needs oft' seem secondary
He guards ancestors
And Death he abhors
What's with this chap, Mike Perry
Who is this plucky, PhD
Who does his job, religiously
And seems so very voluntary
Is he the same as you and me
Are his values worth our envy
Just who the hell is Mike Perry?
Who the hell is Hugh Hixon
Need a new formula
You'll find him mixin'
Who the hell is this guy Hugh Hixon
Who the hell is this man named Hugh
Makes old equipment as good as new
And saves Alcor a bundle too
Just who is this chap called Hugh
Count on Hugh
Sun shine or raining
Always comes through
Wry smile aglow
Just who is this hue who is Hugh Hixon
He aims very high
For a special star in the sky
When he isn't in a tailspin
Who is this guy
Who doesn't want to die
Who the hell is Mike Darwin
He's been called irreplaceable
And even once loveable
And there has never been a question
That for those in his care
He has ALWAYS been there
Their deliverer from Armageddon
Who is this man who hates "untrue"
With whom the dead can't argue
About his goals intent and purpose
Is his time overdue
Has he larger value
Is he just too far ahead of us?
Who is this complicated being
Sometimes chafing, sometimes healing
And is his victory also our win
And with his last breath
Will he really beat death
Just who the hell is Mike Darwin?
Who the hell is Carlos Mondragón
And why is his last name so damn long
Is his living desire a phenomenon
And just what the hell is a Mon Dragon?
He's not bellicose
This chap called Carlos
He's not a burly brute
But the bureaucratic anthropoid
Would be smart to avoid
Engaging him in a dispute
Who the hell is this feisty don
Who rose when called upon
Can he fight off each assault
Will "they" drag him to a halt
How long can this Carlos Man drag on
Who the hell is Art McCombs
An unlikely name
To see in poems
Is his claim to fame
That he hates tombstones
Who the hell is Art McCombs
What the hell is his meticulous art
As he processes each application
He helps us tell the members apart
He works with dedication
With his meticulous skill
With his very strong will
To the future he surely roams
Will his dreams he fulfil
Will he live past until
Just who the hell is Art McCombs
Who the hell is David Pizer
Will he reach his dream
Be his own time-miser
Is he cracked
Or is he wiser
Will he end up immortal
Or just fertiliser
Just who the hell is David Pizer
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