Tuesday, December 16, 2008

more cryonics

Thinking about cryonics has never taken up much of my time. I'm not proud or ashamed of this, but compared to the other things that we lavish attention on I really do think it's pretty worthy.

I've posted before about the tragedy of talented people essentially wasting their lives, but I don't see how cryonics is one of those things that people are wasting their time on. Cryonics concerns a Big Issue and if you decide to sign up it doesn't take much time. Once you're signed up you can just forget about it. A few hours of time for a non-negligible chance of significantly expanding the duration and quality of your life.

Tyler Cowen disagrees
My current view is this: one's attention is extremely scarce and limited, as are one's affiliations. Insofar as you have the luxury of thinking "bigger thoughts," those thoughts should be directed at helping others, not at helping oneself. The real opportunity cost of cryonics is not just the money but whatever else you would have done with that intellectual energy.
Right. You could entertain yourself for days discovering what Tyler has expended intellectual energy on but I think it should be enough to note that Tyler is a big fan of chess. He's spent enough time playing and studying it that he can follow world championship level matches. I think this is great and all, but it does seems strange that he doesn't approve of people spending time thinking about the length and quality of their lives.

Also if Tyler endorsed cryonics he could probably induce quite a few people to sign up who wouldn't have otherwise, which would count as helping other people wouldn't it?

Tyler's post gets weirder. Robin Hanson responds here.


Trev said...

I haven't followed enough of the debate to really have an opinion. If what Tyler means is that he has to give significant thought to Cryonics, and that is likely to distract him from other things... that is plausible.

If, it is really easy and relatively cheap to sign up, and let other people worry about the possibility of success... then it makes it less of a strong argument.

If, part of what he is trying to say is that maybe we will be resurrected as slaves in some future life, or that when the technology exists to resurrect us, humans will have so evolved that we serve the equivalent place of apes in the hierarchy of things... which seems plausible, then maybe even the chance of this means enjoying and focusing energies on life right now is a better option.

mutt said...

Re the first two paragraphs, I argue in my post that this doesn't in fact work for tyler.

new post for last paragraph.