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Don’t Go To Sleep In The Cold!
Gabriel Rothblatt   Apr 6, 2012   Ethical Technology  

If you’re going to go “cryo” be sure to get a “mindfile” too—it could save your afterlife.

Robot: “Didn’t your mother tell you not to wake a sleeping Human?”

Android: “Yes, but I am curious… Did they… ‘think’?”

Robot: “Not so much, in the way that you or I do. They had the ability to ‘think’, but they acted mostly on instinct or repeated learned behavior.”

Android: “Have you ever spoken to one? How do you know? Aren’t you just repeating behavior by telling me information you have not authenticated?”

Robot: “I have not. The evidence is sufficient to understand their nature, and besides… it would be cruel and dangerous to awaken it into a world so beyond it’s ability to comprehend.”

In the posthuman world that the cryonically preserved may (or may not) be reanimated into, there may be many ironic reversals.

A curious futurist might reanimate someone for a glimpse into the past, an insight into where we evolved from, i.e., “Jurassic Park.” 

Reanimation might be like Benjamin Franklin’s observation of flies that drowned in his wine and became reanimated by the sun. We do not want to reanimate every fly in our wine, because they would be a pest, so why would an advanced culture/ species care to resurrect us?

Simple novelty might be enough, but… without some type of dynasty trust to support your reanimation who in the future would pay your reanimation expenses and why?

Preservation is becoming a popular trend with celebrities and the cost is becoming reasonable for most inhabitants of the industrialized world. But - are we just creating a new form of mummification to fill the halls of a future Smithsonian exhibit?

I was fascinated to discover that - despite all the rush to get people into cryonic suspension or Chemopreservation - nobody sold, bought or even publically discussed a plan to be reanimated. The Life Extension Foundation has made some meager efforts regarding the establishment of a general trust, but the question and logistics of resuscitative resurrection are far less thought out than the science behind them.

We might learn how to reanimate the dead before we resolve the issue of if we plan to at all. This paradox will create a true purgatory for those preserved.

If I were preserved and resurrected in the future I’d want to have useful years left on my life. Right now, you must die before you can be preserved. Assuming the future could cure your cause of death is plausible, but restoring health and vitality to your body crippled from the disease that killed you is far more challenging.

Assuming medical science is so advanced to heal an 80-year-old body back to even a 40-year-old one, it is as reasonable to assume they could just grow a new body all together. That’s why many people who choose to be preserved opt for a neural only preservation. This follows the belief that who/what we are is stored in our brains as complex data chains, a combination of biology and experiences.

A later adaptation to this idea is “mindfiling” - the concept that the information in your brain can be downloaded into a program and uploaded, spacecasted or integrated into the new you(s.)

Our understanding is that the reanimation process would cause significant memory loss (if a couple minutes of hypothermia can cause memory loss, imagine what a few decades being frozen might do.) Mindfile sites store your life experiences so when you are reanimated, any missing information can be recovered. Mindfiling also greatly reduces the logistical stress or necessity of reanimation. Adequately developed mindfiles may allow near seamless continuity of consciousness, or, at least, a broader array of reanimation options that the future may find more appealing, cost effective and ethical.

The entire concept of self might be transcended when this approach makes it possible to exist as multiple entities in both the physical and cyber realities of the future. Already, mindfile sites are populated with Avatars or chatbots that allow you to interact with your mindfile. In the near future you may actually be able to literally be a one man band or play chess against yourself or have a conversation with yourself - don’t worry, you’ll always get the last word in, with yourself.

Do you want your life to have a “sequel”?  Do you aspire for joyful immortality? Either way, the incorporation of a mindfile is crucial. Alcor founders Fred and Linda Chamberlain - who pioneered cryonics - saw this and started, a self-interview guide to aid the creation of mindfiles. Despite the clearly marked path and free services of and most people who plan to be reanimated haven’t bothered to mindfile.

These people will lie down in the cold expecting that they will be woken up in the springtime. However, a future Ben Franklin might revive only a few. There might be hesitations to reanimate all of them, as this essay’s opening Android/Robot dialogue indicates.

Like Momia Juanita (the “Inca Ice Maiden”) or “Otzi the Iceman” in the Alps, entering preservation without a mindfile is tantamount to mummification. The majority of the cryonics community appears to be racing to create the best-preserved mummy, a curious parallel to the Egyptians. Physical reanimation of a body actually has no framework; the assumption that the future will be willing to reanimate you on credit is woefully naïve. Even with the actual cost of revival being low, the profit incentive on the idea is unparalleled.

Let us suppose the future is an “ethical” place, does that necessitate their obligation to revive the preserved and/or uploaded? Is it conceivable that the future may find it ethical not to revive the preserved or the uploaded? With the amount of consumption a biological body requires is it possible to see how physical reanimation may be considered unethical?

The same needs to be asked of uploaded minds - does giving them form, or even maintaining those individuals in virtual realities, violate morals we have not yet developed, since these issues are still theoretical?

My advice is - for anyone planning to have his or her body or “soul” reanimated, a mindfile is a necessary part of that equation.

Gabriel Rothblatt is an Ambassador for the Seasteading Institute, a member of the Board of Directors for Terasem Movement Incorporated and the Lifeboat Foundations Futurist Board of Advisors. He is a former US Congressional Candidate in FL-8, the Space Coast of Florida.


And of course the question is, if someday mindfile sites are even more successful than they are today, then why have yourself frozen at all? Why not rely on mindfile technology to recreate you?


I have though about this horrific dilemma and the fact is that ‘reawakening’ of people from the fast has so far nearly always been traumatic.  Say - if we’d look at any period in human history there is a feeling of distaste about reawakening people from any specific era.

These are maladjusted people by and large - even the royalty, which peed in dark corners in every palace - Versailless stank horribly, as even the highest born snuck off in to the wallways, found an alcove and relieved themselves there. And that’s just an example of lavatory habits which is illustrative just how truly barbaric most people from the past were. With just few exceptions.

I don’t finish my SF stories mostly, because I am a messy author, but in one story I speculated about a dying astronaut somewhere in a century from now who had invested a sizeable sum of his resources to colonize the moon Prometheus. The astronaut then gets irradiated and no matter what technology he has available, he’ll die in a few weeks. So what he does is he makes a copy of his mind, but finds he doesn’t have proper technology to reinstantiate a true clone - so he grows a copy of himself in a virtual environment that is as much a seamless rendition of the world of his own youth - and then when the copy of himself has formed he slowly starts to take himself offline, and the copy online.

Now imagine being such child - you live in the world of the early 21st century and you find yourself haunted by a strange alien being that knows everything about your life, and can alter facets of the world, and is slowly deconstructing the reality around you. The question is - would the emerging youth want to slowly transition into - or functionally merge with the end point of his or her own lifetime?

Would the reconstruction of people from the past HAVE to occur in “in vitro” restorative environment. Jokes about “we might already ourselves be in such an environment” aside - I think this is necessary. If we’d wanted to take someone a few centuries dead, say - William Shakespeare - and we would have a moral desire to return him to ‘our’ time, we might literally have to regrow him in a facsimile of his actual life, using his genes and other forensic sources of the Real Shakespeare. This would be an approximate Shakespeare.

The question then becomes one of law. At which stage will any “just” law start regarding an approximate “forensic” fascimile of Shakespeare a copy of the actual Shakespeare. My concern is that a “mind file” won’t be a very compelling argument.

This becomes even trickier if we wanted to return someone from the grave who had suffered great personal tragedy. The forensic re-constructive process would then subject the ‘patient’ to a facsimile of the tragedy, and this would be a form of voodoo abuse; we saw the same in the tragedy of the youth of one Adolf Hitler in “the boys from brazil” - Adolf Hitler didn’t have a very happy first few decades, and in effect such reconstruction could only be done by an utterly depraved psychopath such as Jozef Mengele, as it was in the movie.

In my case I’d be very hostile to subjecting me, or a copy of me, to a rendered variant of my own youth. Also I’d find it very distasteful to return me with “a range of highly undesired” traits of myself. That is why I have major problems of a mind file of myself at Terasem.

I do not want to be reinstated in such future time in a manner anything resembling my current shape, physical and neurological. But how can I (after creating a vitrified version reconstituted of me, respectively a Mind File as well) morally have a customized human created based on an idealized desired template of me?

I don’t want to subject a future iteration of myself to the same creative process that led to me, and I would not want a future version of me having to feel the same indignities I experience (all over again, no less).

But how can I morally desire a tailor made “upgraded” version of me, constructed from scratch, and subject *that* version of having to integrate both Cryonic and Mind-file data of “some historical person” ?

This leaves me with a very problematic paradox which at this time neither Terasem nor the Cryonics movement has addressed.

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