Fear of Paradise – Cryonics and Many-Worlds
It is quite likely, as of today, that within some five months I might be signed up for cryonics. Great, that only means I am rational. Now I have for long been a defender of the Many-World interpretation of quantum mechanics. In the beggining, my reasons were due to the elegance and beauty of the theory, specially in terms of computation. Nowadays I got some stronger arguments, some from papers on the topic, some from Yudkowsky, a guy whose intelligence far surpasses my view of greatness.
Take these two together and what do you get? It is unpredictable. We do not have sufficiently powerful machines to compute how do quantum electro-dynamics and quantum-cromodynamics operate in higher levels. That is, we cannot, currently calculate if what we know about how the mycrophysical world should really on average cause what we see here, in the macro-level. We think it does, but that could be caused by selection effects.
This leaves open the following possibilities:
1) Life is a process that has evolved in such a way as to counter most of quantum mechanical indeterminacies that could destroy it (say, if all your carbonic chains disengaged in two seconds) so that from every 10^10 worlds, there is only one in which your brain disintegrates.
2) Life in fact only counters life-destroying indeterminacies in very few cases, say, one in every two (for a given amount of elapsed time). In fact we only experience life as we do because there is nothing it is like to be dead!
So, what happens when one signs for cryonics? If (1) is true, most likely I’ll keep dividing my current self into kazillions of others, as I always have, a tiny part will indeed be cryogenated (while I’m 23 I expect that to be a tiny part, for Darwin’s sake!) but the biggest share will simply keep living my life normally.
If (2) is true, on the other hand, there will be many, many, many worlds in which I die for one or other quantum reason, and I will be quickly cryogenated, that is, frozen in something that doesn’t shatter my cells (as water does) in hope of a bright future ressurection, like the spirits of old. In many of those I will in fact be ressurected! These may be as many as the ones in which I will keep living my life normally. Suppose now that in the future, the indeterminacies that here used to kill me all the time that were not taken care of by evolution have been taken care of.
What should I expect? If (1) nothing exeptional, sign my contract, get back, move on.
If (2) then I should expect to quickly wake up in a post-human world, highly likely to be a world that would make paradise shiver and tremble in the sight of its greatness. A world in which happiness has become the very essence of matter, and intelligence is so widespread we can afford giving it to sponges. This would happen some time after I signed my contract, perhaps before I took the plane back to Brazil.
Of course, as any animal about to be taken away from its environment, I am afraid of change. Yeah, alright, it is change for a paradise beyond what the Flying Spaghetti Monster Himself could conceive of, in all his noodlety. So what, my fear is irrational.
One may stop here and say: Hey! That won’t cut! What if you wake up in a post-human doomed scenario with no conscious beings and an evil superintelligence, or singleton scraping your ass with cactus?
To what I say: My conditional probability, given ressurection from cryonics, that it is not the case that those who uncryogenated me are friendly (people or AI) is about 0,0005% percent.
I gather here I should say that I think it some 8% likely that (2) is true, and 92% likely that (1) is true. So the rest of this text is written by these 8% of me.
There may even be many more apocalyptic scenatios in which the world is dominated by evil stuff than ones in which either life goes on as usual or paradise takes hold. But if I consider observer selection effects, I should only account for worlds in which I live, therefore, if (2) is the case, I should assume that soon after signing that piece of paper, I will be in the best place ever, ever, ever.
In a way, this can be thought of as a goodbye letter. I know that there will still be one Diego made of bio-stuff and human (as opposed to post-human), and in fact, he is one of the people to whom I ought to say goodbye. Goodbye, thank you, current Diego, in the name of your paradise-sharing-future-slice, you have made yourself the biggest favor one could ever do, and I’m only causally connected to you now, to tell you that, I know I will be more thankfull later, but by then, I won’t be able to say so.
For all of those who stay including my own slices, henceforth friends, also it has been a great experience to have been here with you, and I wish we could somehow share paradise together (of course you may have your own future slice there, but I’m talking by definition to those who will stay here) but we can’t.
I do not know what is it like to live a life besides that of a human, but from what I managed to learn about the human life, I ought to be thankful for all that you have given me, all the Experiences, with the capital E, all the sharing, fun, love and joy.
It is a fearful path the one that takes to paradise, and my body chemestry is doing what she can to make me dubious, but this mind has been taken by reason long ago, and been too happy, well fed, intelligent and emotion-lover to be taken back right now, posthumanity, I launch myself to your care, into the unknown, and beyond the scope of any imagination. Let’s Go! Holy shit, I shit my pants!