Earlier this year I wrote an essay-length email to be sent to a cryonics mailing list I’m on. While I’ve hopes that I’ll survive until singularity, there are no guarantees in this world. While I’ve dreams that involve recovering our dead, the ability to do so is even less assured. Certainly there are differing viewpoints on this, and I don’t have adequate reason to support my belief that we can to outright dismiss all others.
So I’m on a mailing list, and I pay attention to advances in the state of the art, because it is an improvement in the chances of people to live in a world in which we’ve won – ended involuntary death, put down suffering suffered unwillingly, and ensured that everyone has a path to satisfaction of their values. Cryonics-interested people are future oriented and think that technology can solve problems.
Knowing this, I found the conversation that essay is a response to, to be a painful one. There was a thread discussing one of the old canards about living forever, of how terrible it would be because of things changing, and people dying, and how really, immortality wasn’t something to strive for. Reading that was really quite hurtful.
People who are interested enough in survival to be talking about technologies that most people consider to be science fiction acting like immortality would be a burden was both unexpected, and touches an exposed nerve for me. The sour grapes attitude most people bring to the fact that death has been a constant throughout history is something like nails on a chalkboard to me. That was only amplified when I had my filters regarding it down because I expected this list to be about the desirability of life and how to get more.
In response, I spent several hours crying and crafting that essay, trying to convey the true depth of my views and feelings, because if anyone should know better, the cryo community certainly should. I then spent another week having people I know with writing experience comment on improving it, compressing it from the original four pages down to the two it now occupies, and I think increasing the punch a good deal.
I don’t want anyone to have to die, and I had some hopes that maybe the attitude that losing is inevitable could be beaten back here.
It didn’t have all the impact I’d hoped, but I think I swayed some people, and I think it was a helpful step forward in my acquisition of agency – gotta build up that expectancy, right?
For now, though, back to working on alignment, because I think if we don’t solve that, we’re really screwed.