Responding

For the record, this site is set to not let most comments through until at least one post from that name/address has been permitted. So you’re not being excluded, Dr. Hanson, you just weren’t included yet.

If you can be revived, you aren’t ‘dead’.

On the contrary, we bring people back from the dead all the time. This is why we can occasionally tell people that they were dead on the (operating) table.

The standard was once when people ceased breathing. Then we learned ways to revive such people. Then the goalposts were moved so that cessation of heartbeat defined death. Then we learned ways to revive those people. That’s precisely why the relevant legal criterion is now ‘brain death’, when we can no longer induce brains to manifest certain levels of activity.

Cryogenically-frozen subjects are both dead and brain dead. They are not revivable by any known means.

We don’t know whether they are revivable by any means, or not. Which is why it’s useless to let their status be defined by that criterion – it doesn’t provide us a means to reach a conclusion, even tenatively.

One final note: we cannot say that the chances of reviving cryonic subjects are small. Revivication is an unknown, and as such we cannot assign a probability to it at all. This is the critical flaw in Bayesian and other systems that try to represent reasoning as probabilistic: our ability to rationally assign probabilities is more limited than our ability to reason about unknowns, and so the former cannot encompass and represent the latter.

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One Response to “Responding”

  1. Regarding Bayes, agreed. Furthermore, when I read about an experiment asking something like “Would you prefer to buy a bet for $1 that has a .05% chance of cutting off your legs, or buy a bet for $75 that has a 95% chance of putting a speck of dust in your eye” I wonder who can even parse such a thing coherently, let alone make a decision.

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