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Cryonics Comic Relief – Uploading

Posted: October 11, 2010 at 10:12 am

Robert Ettinger has been attempting to make a point-by-point argument, (on Cold Filter and Cryonet), against the probability of uploading being successful. I happen to agree with Mr. Ettinger, that copies can never be the original, but that doesn't seem to matter to many cryonicists / transhumanists. For many years, I thought the goal of uploading was for an individual to live on, but it only recently dawned on me that I've been mistaken. It seems the majority of the transhumanists would be happy if a mere copy of themselves "lived" on, after they were dead. Personally, I think, with extremely rare exceptions, future generations would find copies of the thinking patterns of dead people, programmed into computers unnecessary, and the associated narcissism laughable.

This morning, Mr. Ettinger writes:
"Reason 3. Time intervals in the computer and in life...
Now, assume the original lives on, while his simulation is being run on the computer. The simulation "lives" like a film with frames at non-zero intervals. The original lives in some fashion not presently understood--possibly in a continuous fashion with no gaps, or possibly jumping each time to an appreciably different state with nothing in between. Even in the latter case, however, it is exceedingly unlikely that the intervals between successive states would be the same for the original and for the simulation. Hence, it seems to me, the simulation cannot be faithful to the original. Again, we can't know yet how important the differences may be, but there will surely be differences."

Suspended Animation's Mathew Sullivan, responds with:
"At a basic level, the "simulation" is nothing more than a tool...
My car does not function exactly as me and it does not even have legs, but it can get me to work more efficiently than I can by jogging."

Huh? How is that supposed to be an argument for uploading? The simulation is a "tool" for what? I don't get it.

Luke Parrish responds to one of Mr. Ettinger's arguments with:
"Ultimately, saying that the paper with a complete programmatic description (combined, presumably at some point with a turing machine which simulates it) is not a hydrogen atom is simply begging the question. How do you know it is not a hydrogen atom? What property is essential to our definition of hydrogen atoms which this lacks?"

Huh? again. It lacks being a real hydrogen item, that's what it lacks. A description, or simulation of a hydrogen atom, written in code in a computer, is exactly that...a description or simulation, not the original, or even a hydrogen atom, at all. Later on, in the discussion, Luke admits the computerized simulation of the hydrogen atom is a hydrogen atom "in abstract form," but still calls it "the atom," something Mr. Ettinger seems to find as puzzling as I.

To sum up my thinking about these exchanges, my question is:
If Luke programs a perfect copy of a bear and its environment, into his computer, and his virtual bear takes a virtual crap in the virtual woods, does Luke smell it?

As I've always said, if nothing else, the cryonics forums are good for cheap entertainment. (Not referring to Mr. Ettinger's remarks, but to the responses to those remarks.)

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Destroying Cryonics

Posted: October 11, 2010 at 10:12 am

On occasion, someone will ask me why I "want to destroy cryonics." My answer is, "cryonics" is not something I, or anyone else, can destroy. Cryonics is a hypothesis, an idea, not any one of the existing cryonics organizations, or even the sum total of those organizations. The experiment of cryonics is, (or should be), based on existing proven medical procedures, in which patients are cooled to a state of "death," for operations, which require the cessation of blood flow to the patient's brain.

I don't think it's irrational to wonder how far the limits of existing hypothermic medical science/procedures can be pushed, but it definitely IS irrational to think a group of laymen, who have made little-to-no progress over the last forty years, should be looked upon as "experts" capable of carrying out the experiment of cryonics. People incapable of competently delivering well-established procedures, after so many decades of trying, aren't likely to ever be capable of delivering something more advanced.

Cryonics experiments should be centered around attempting to perfect medications and solutions, and cooling and storage protocols, that will permit a body to be taken to extremely low temperatures, and held there for years, without tremendous structural damage. The procedures and equipment needed to safely, and effectively, deliver medications and solutions to the human body, via perfusion technology, were virtually-perfected, decades ago. Yet, organizations such as Alcor and some of the LEF-funded organizations have spent decades, and many, MANY millions of dollars, trying to do the layman's version of these procedures. Much of their "research" has been spent on ridiculous DIY versions of existing medical equipment, and trying to train laymen, (who will have no proper instruction, and no opportunity for significant clinical practice), to perform existing medical procedures. (In other words, instead of taking existing technology and building on it, they've been trying to replicate medical procedures that have been around for many decades, and failing to deliver those procedures with any significant degree of competency.)

I watched Saul Kent/Life Extension Foundation fund MANY thousands of dollars, over a protracted period of time, for a layman's attempts to build a perfusion level detector, when an FDA-approved version could be bought off the shelf, for less than $400, and that is only one example of the extensive foolishness carried out by organizations such as Suspended Animation and Alcor. On top of the decades worth of DIY projects, carried out by people who most often don't have a proper grasp of the medical procedures for which the equipment is needed, there is report, after report, after report, of laymen bungling well-established medical procedures, and a growing list of Alcor's Chief Medical Advisor's glaring mistakes, in regard to conducting these procedures.

What really bothers me is my belief that organizations, such as Alcor and SA, attempt to deceive an unsuspecting public into believing they are organizations comprised of competent medical professionals. The last SA case report was laced with clumsily-used and incorrect medical terminology, clearly intended to deceive the reader. Alcor, repeatedly, refers to the dead as "patients" and laymen as "surgeons," in their case reports and other propaganda. I don't care what is in the fine print of their contracts; the public representations of these companies is what I consider to be fraudulent, to an extreme degree.

If I were a laymen, reading Alcor's and/or Suspended Animation's reports, (which are filled with medical terminology, and describe "surgeons" performing operations), I would think these people were legitimate medical organizations. THEY ARE NOT. In my opinion, some cryonics organizations appear to be attempting to swindle people out of tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, hefty bequests, or even their entire estates, if they can. What do they promise to deliver, in exchange for that money? NOTHING, but I think it's probably difficult for most laymen to come to that realization, given all the public references to "patients" and "surgeons," and the medical jargon.

It's time someone stepped in and put a stop to this charade. Playing on the fear of death, and taking six figures, or the entire life's savings, of individuals who are led to believe they may have an opportunity to be resurrected in the future, by a bunch of quacks, is entirely unacceptable. It's time for the medical community, regulatory agencies related to issues involving the treatment of people at the time of legal death, and agencies interested in protecting the people from being swindled out of their lifelong savings, by organizations misrepresenting the qualifications of their staff members and misrepresenting their ability to competently perform clinical experiments related to the medical sciences.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Cryonics and Uploading

Posted: October 11, 2010 at 10:12 am

A DISCLAIMER: I know next-to-nothing about technologies related to uploading; but I get the general idea.

"Mind uploading or whole brain emulation (sometimes called mind transfer) is the hypothetical process of scanning and mapping a biological brain in detail and copying its state into a computer system or another computational device. The computer would have to run a simulation model so faithful to the original that it would behave in essentially the same way as the original brain, or for all practical purposes, indistinguishably.[1] The simulated mind is assumed to be part of a virtual reality simulated world, supported by a simplified body simulation model. Alternatively, the simulated mind could be assumed to reside in a computer inside (or connected to) a humanoid robot or a biological body, replacing its brain."

The two cryonics forums I read, regularly, (Cold Filter and Cryonet), have been comprised mostly of discussions regarding mind uploading, in recent weeks, with little-to-nothing being written about the current state of cryonics activities, or the medical science related to cryonics. I always thought the goal of cryonics was to prolong one's life, but it seems many cryonicists would be happy just to know the world would continued to be "blessed" with a copy, (or multiple copies!), of themselves, once they are dead. It's the ultimate in narcissism.

Edgar Swank, of American Cryonics Society (ACS), thinks a copy of his mind/personality living in some sort of virtual reality would be "heaven." I guess he thinks he could run a program and a virtual Angelina Jolie would show up at his imaginary door, ready to fulfill his every desire. He doesn't seem to care that it would be make-believe, or that someone like Ms. Jolie wouldn't touch him with a 40-foot pole, in reality. He writes: "Arcturus also wants to be reconstituted in a body of some kind and compares living inside a computer to locked-in syndrome. But living in a sufficiently rich virtual reality would not be like that at all. One could have any kind of virtual body one wanted, including any super powers one might imagine. I don't see any problem moving from the virtual reality to an advanced android or cyborg body. But I expect most people would choose the virtual reality, at least most of the time." Does Mr. Swank consider the possibility that the future would not tolerate his narcissistic virtual world, and someone would come along and pull the plug? Who, in the future, would care about some computer on a desk, being of no benefit to anyone, or anything, other than itself? "Hey, Joe, look at this old schmuck, sitting around taking up space, running programs about sexual fantasies and superhuman powers, just to satisfy itself. Move that thing to the dumpster."

"Virtual" is the key word in Mr. Swank's fantasies about living in a world where he can fool himself into believing he has the body of Ryan Reynolds and can fly like superman. It's not much of a stretch of my imagination to think Mr. Swank would be satisfied with virtual reality, since I believe he already lives in a make-believe world. (More on that, in a future post.) The rest of us, however, really want to LIVE, and virtual pleasure and happiness would be quite hollow. (I'm assuming a machine, making itself "feel" happy, would be intelligent to "know" it was doing so. At any point, would the computer latch onto the "yin and yang," and realize life is not complete without the reality of disappointments? That victories are insignificant without the possibility of defeat? That there would be no genuine reward in running a virtual marathon in your own little universe, where you could assure you would always be the virtual winner?

Let's suppose, by some miraculous technology, I was able to transfer my memory and personality into a computer, or even a humanoid robot. Let's say, at the time, I am lying on my deathbed, knowing I will die within the next few days. Would it give me any comfort to know a copy of me would live on, after I am dead? Absolutely not. Once dead, I would no longer be able to hold my loved ones, to stand with arms outstretched in a glorious rain, or engage in any other joyful experiences of life. Leaving behind a copy would only console me if I was narcissistic enough to think the world would be blessed by having a copy of me, instead of someone new and unique, and I am not narcissistically delusional enough to believe that. The world will be fine without a copy of me, and though my copy may THINK it is me, the REAL me would still be dead.

From Aschwin and Chana de Wolf's Depressed Metabolism blog:
Cryonics is often associated with ideas like mind uploading and transhumanism. One negative consequence of this (un)intentional association is that some people who are considering cryonics feel that they have to embrace a much larger set of controversial ideas than what they are actually being asked to consider. As a result, there is a real risk that people reject cryonics for reasons that have little to do with the proposal of cryonics itself. Advocates of cryonics do not do themselves a favor by promoting the idea of human cryopreservation as part of a larger set of futurist ideas instead of just promoting cryonics as an experimental medical procedure to extend life. There is too much at stake to alienate people by piling more controversial ideas on top of what is already considered to be a radical idea. Such a low-key attitude will also produce a more consistent message because it extends the element of uncertainty that is inherent in cryonics to other areas of life as well.

As much as I admire Aschwin, I think he has yet to realize that the idea of training laymen to perform the "experimental medical procedure" of cryonics is just as much of a fantasy as Mr. Swank's virtual world. Cryonics procedures require performing the tasks of advanced paramedics, vascular surgeons and perfusionists. Laymen being trained, (by other laymen, for the most part), are never going to be able to perform these procedures properly, given the lack of expertise on the part of their instructors and the lack of opportunity to have the degree of clinical experience needed to gain proficiency in performing those tasks.

The fact that so many people interested in cryonics are also interested in other "radical ideas" shows that most of these people live their lives out engaging in fantasy. Few of them are scientists, or medical professionals; for the most part, they are laymen engaging in what I would call "mental masturbation."

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Cryonics Quackery

Posted: October 11, 2010 at 10:12 am

This morning's Google results for ""femoral capsule" cannulation" resulted in "About 3 results (0.21 seconds)" (copied and pasted from Google search results). One was my blog review of Suspended Animations's (SA's) CI-95 (Curtis Henderson) case report; one was SA's CI-95 case report; and one was the CI-95 case report from Cryonic Institute's site.

Why so few results? Because "femoral capsule," (a term used in the Curtis Henderson case report, written by pseudo-surgeon, Catherine Baldwin), is an orthopedic term, which has nothing to do with a femoral cannulation.

This morning's Google results for ""femoral sheath" cannulation" resulted in "About 2,060 results (0.27 seconds)" (copied and pasted from Google search results).

Why so many results? Because the "femoral sheath" (a term NOT used in Ms. Baldwin's descriptions of her FAILED attempts to cannulate Mr. Henderson), encloses the femoral artery and femoral vein, two large blood vessels Suspended Animation's manager, Catherine Baldwin, could not locate. (See previous post.)

SA's case report in no way compares to a standard report for a conventional medical procedure requiring femoral cannulation and perfusion, though those procedures, as applied in conventional medicine and cryonics, are fundamentally the same. So why the HUGE difference in the reporting style? I believe SA (mis)used a lot of medical terms, in order to deceive the readers, in regard to their personnel's capabilities. Ms. Baldwin and her staff members were engaging in "make-believe," as far as I am concerned; they were untrained persons playing medical professionals. It's a charade, and not a very well-orchestrated one, at that.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Catherine Baldwin Just Another Participant in Cryonics Fraud

Posted: October 11, 2010 at 10:12 am

From SA's CI-95 (Curtis Henderson) case report:
"Using a #10 scalpel blade an 8cm incision was made at this midpoint, just below the inguinal crease along the longitudinal axis of the leg. Blunt dissection and electro-cautery were used to clear a 3cm layer of heavy adipose tissue to expose the muscle. Additional blunt dissection clearing 2cm layer of muscle was made through heavy pooling of bright red blood from the surrounding tissues. Hemostasis with surgical sponges was ineffective. After 20 minutes of dissection the femoral capsule and vessels were not visible and a consulting physician was called."

Apparently, Catherine Baldwin, manager of Suspended Animation, (Boynton Beach, FL), doesn't realize one of the best ways to make one's self appear foolish is to use terminology one isn't familiar with. I don't know how I missed it, during my recent partial review of her most recently published case report, but the term "femoral capsule" slipped by me.

Baldwin claims to have been searching for the "femoral capsule." In all my years as a perfusionist, the only people I ever heard use the term "femoral capsule," were orthopedic surgeons. (Perfusionists sometimes perform blood salvage, during orthopedic procedures, such as hip replacements.) The femoral capsule is part of the hip joint, and has nothing to do with performing a vascular cannulation. Unless Ms. Baldwin was attempting to perform a hip replacement, she used the wrong terminology.

I believe "femoral sheath" is the term she was searching for. (See for yourself. Google ""femoral capsule" cannulation" and you will get less than a dozen results...all of them related to Ms. Baldwin's mistake, or orthopedic surgery. Then, google ""femoral sheath" cannulation" and you will get a couple thousand links to information about the femoral vessels, (very large blood vessels Ms. Baldwin did not know how to find).

This proves what I saw, immediately...something ANYONE familiar with these procedures would see in reading Baldwin's report...the abundant use of medical terminology in Suspended Animation's report was a farce, a charade, an attempt to DECEIVE an unsuspecting population of laymen into believing Ms. Baldwin and her staff members are capable of performing vascular cannulations and perfusion, (the procedures needed to deliver cryopreservation solutions). They don't even know how to properly describe these procedures, much less perform them!!! All that medical terminology was "smoke and mirrors," designed to deceive cryonicists, and potential cryonicists.

It would take me far too long to write a comprehensive review of SA's most recently published case report, for an audience of laymen. To sum it all up, I'll just say I doubt most of Ms. Baldwin's staff members know the difference between a #10 blade and a butterknife.

"In the broadest sense, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent.

The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation. Defrauding people or entities of money or valuables is a common purpose of fraud, but there have also been fraudulent "discoveries", e.g. in science, to gain prestige rather than immediate monetary gain."

That's what this is all about...Ms. Baldwin, and other people working in cryonics, (most of them not being medical professionals of any kind), pulling down six-figure salary and benefits packages, and/or adding to their self-esteem (prestige) by being labeled the "president," "manager," or "chief," of anything, no matter how insignificant. If Kent wants Baldwin to dress up in a labcoat, call herself a surgeon, and spew out terminology she's not familiar with, that is what she will do. If Kent wants Harris to sign death certificates without question, place dangerous prescription drugs in the hands of laymen, and make himself look like an idiot by publicly discussing conventional medical procedures he clearly is not familiar with, that is what Harris will do. Everybody has their price, I guess.

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

Cryonics Isn’t Vegas

Posted: October 11, 2010 at 10:12 am

What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happens at cryonics meetups eventually gets plastered on the Internet.

The people at Cryonics Factsheet hired a ringer, (from Craigslist, no less!), to attend David Styles' launch of EUCRIO.

No mention of any real medical professionals, or scientists, being a part of EUCRIO, in spite of Styles' claim to have such professionals available.

There was mention of a documentary being filmed, so no wonder Kent and Baldwin traveled to the other side of the pond. Kent is said to have asked a question about how much experience Styles' teams had, (the answer was none). I doubt Kent will ever get it through his head that it doesn't matter how much experience one has, if one is doing everything all wrong. If he was trying to get a comparison to the US organizations, he should have asked, "How many femoral cannulations and perfusion procedures have you botched?"

History keeps repeating itself, in cryonics, because no one will admit they don't know what they are doing. Their "surgeons" are most often laymen; and a large portion of their 40 years of "research" has been the construction of equipment for procedures they don't know how to perform! (Never mind that conventional medical equipment for most of the procedures they want to perform is readily available, FDA-approved, and significantly less expensive than the price they pay for endless DIY projects from their "garage engineers.")

Apparently, they are as bad at marketing, as they are at performing medical procedures. The UK mole claims there were about 20 people present for Styles' performance, 75% of them already signed up for cryonics. FORTY years and they are 1,990 strong! I'm being generous...I'm including all Alcors members and Cryonics Institute members, including those already in the Dewars and cryostats, even the CI members who are not funded. If we count only the number of living persons who have arranged payment for cryopreservation, the number is a mere 1,352. That's pretty shabby, for 40 years of effort. (Assuming Alcor is not counting the 98 people in the Dewars in their figure for members. If they are, subtract 98, from 1,352.)

People think I am an "enemy of cryonics." My answer to that is, Alcor is not "cryonics," Suspended Animation is not "cryonics," Critical Care Research is not "cryonics," EUCRIO is not "cryonics," Kent and Faloon are not "cryonics." Cryonics is an idea, while these organizations are a mockery of medical science, engaging in attempts to capitalize on the fear of death, in my opinion.

Two questions:
1. Is it appropriate, (and legal), for Alcor to refer to people in the Dewars as "patients"? Who are the physicians taking care of these "patients"???

2. Why is it legal for Styles and his friends to label their vehicle as an "ambulance," in the UK? If it isn't manned by bona fide medical professionals, providing emergency medical services, shouldn't that be some sort of fraud??
(Dear Queen Elizabeth...Who's minding your kingdom, when it comes to QUACKERY???)

(Of interest is that my blog has had an explosion of visits from Europe.)

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith

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