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Matus1976 Blog - Philosophy, Science, Politics, Invention
What is Love
What is Love
Love, and emotion for that matter (in a healthy brain) is our response to our highest values. Love is the emotional price you pay for *valuing* something and seeing it expressed in another human being. All of our emotions are responses to the things we value most being expressed. When we value the health and well being of ourselves and our loved ones, we are happy to see things perpetuate those values. If you value honesty, sincerity, kindness, integrity, productiveness, etc, deeply, and you see that expressed in another person, your emotions respond properly.
Our mind, logic and reason, do not operate in conflict with our emotions, our emotions are the logical extensions of our deepest convictions. Proper relationships of love are based on admiration and respect for a person, an individual. Not a robot or a social automaton. If you value fashion and trendyness the most, you will love someone that embodies those things. If you value money and prestige the most, you will love someone that embodies those things, but in both of those cases it is very easy to find another person with more money, fame, wealth, prestige, or as is the most common case, hotter. So your emotions become fickle and easily swayed. It is any wonder than that people go from an initial high in a relationship to feeling like they are going through the mundane routines? If you are truly inspired by someone, and you admire and cherish them, and they feel the same about you, will you ever really become bored of them?
A proper loving relationship, when one values proper things and integrates them into their own self fully (e.g. valuing honesty, one must become honest, valuing rational independence, one must not be co-dependant) will blossom into an amazing and easily life long relationship full of complete admiration and respect. A proper loving relationship, since to say "I love you" one must have a clear concept of "I" and a clear concept of "you" can not come from two people who fear being alone, who don't like spending time with themselves, who perpetually seek to be distracted from dealing with their own innate boringness, it must come from two independent intelligent people sure of themselves both doing what they most want to do. A proper loving relationship comes from where the individual rational self interest of two people meet, no one giving up any part of themselves for the sake of a 'relationship' but both of them forming a profound and amazing relationship based on the thing most important to each of them.
Such relationships are rare, I have since I came to this opinion only had one of this nature in my life, and it was the most amazing by far of all the relationships I have ever had. I fully believe that the vast majority of people are in extremely unhealthy relationships, they do not hold their partners to any standards and they don't base their affection on any solid ground, while they cheat on each other, lie steal and manipulate, they chant to themselves 'but I love him! (or her)' After obfuscating the source of their original emotion, they demote love to something they are just supposed to feel and elevate feeling it for someone who does not deserve it to a status of a moral virtue!
In many cases, a significant other will spend most of their time berating their partner, in order to psychological demoralize them. It amazes me how prevalent this can be, the ‘you are not pretty, no one would want you, you are a loser, you are pathetic’ etc. Things like that stem from basing one's self esteem on other people's assessments of you. A person who does this knows what kind of control it gives them over some one, even if they don’t explicitly know it, they are aware of it at some level because it is how control is established over them. So if you don't like them, it is in fact insulting to him, so they have to insult you to compensate. They must beat you to the psychological punch before they lose their self esteem to you.
When people have a healthy basis for their own self esteem they don't need affection from other people to sustain it, since in essence needing someone else’s appraise is enslaving one's self them, just as lying to them and manipulating them is. When you know who you are and have a healthy basis for your own assessment of yourself, then when someone likes you (for the right reasons of course) then it is more a reflection of them and their qualities than it is of you and yours. You know who you are. You know what quality of a person you are if you have integrity. It becomes a scenario that when people like you, they will rise in your estimate of them. You’ll think more highly of them because they value what you value, and recognize it in you. But it's only when they like you for the things that you most like about yourself and when those things are proper. You must like about yourself your integrity, honesty, commitment to what is right and just, love of your life, your fundamental outlook on life, and they must like the same in you. If someone likes you just because you are hot or rich, well that doesn’t say too many good things about them. It’s good to be someone who can financially support themselves and to be attractive of course, but to base a relationship and affection solely on those is terrible. If someone likes you because they’d be bored otherwise, or because they’d feel lonely, well again that doesn’t say much of them. You become two parasites sucking each others life force working toward a common confusing cloudy mess.
So set yourself some standards. Look for a decent, stable person who has their own hopes and dreams and desires. Look for dreams and goals that do not create conflict with yours. Have ones of your own. Look for integrity (that is, being internally consistent) Look for honesty and sincerity. (Integrity is also being honest to ones values) Then you learn the problem with having standards, and why so many people end up compromising them. You realize quickly how few people stand up to even rudimentary ones. Why is that? Well, that’s the topic of another post, but I would blame a terrible influence of the preomdinat cultural – philosophical attitudes. Once I started really thinking about these things and really being ‘picky’ about these standards, it started to look like I will be alone for some time. Alone is not how I would prefer to be, but I would certainly dislike to a much greater extent being dishonest to myself and my highest values, and subsequently being with some psycho manipulative narcissistic nihilist.
It never ceases to surprise me that being honest and sincere and rational are things so alien to most people. Usually people think it’s ok to be dishonest as long as you can ‘get away with it’ or that no one is physically injured in the process. When I last ate at my friends restaurant, I pointed out to the waitress she missed one of my items I ordered on my bill. She acted surprised, “Wow, you’re so honest!” It’s surprising, or at least it ought to be, that she was surprised by honesty. Well, first of all I wouldn’t consciously steel from my near life long friend, but additionally there is little reason not to be honest. Not only is honesty is far more spiritually rewarding (in appropriate contexts) but it is far more pragmatically rewarding. Honesty cultivates sincere, deep, long lasting friendships and relationships that are mutually beneficial and enlightening, including business and working relationships.
So don’t sell out, too many people do. We have only one life and it is ours to enjoy, not to bow down and apologize and cave in to every jerk who wants to force us to live for them.
Compared to many modern ‘enlightened’ people who yap about how we are ‘not meant to be monogamous’ and such things the old fashioned ways are far more rational in many ways. They came about for good reasons and helped humanity survive for a long time. That’s not to say it’s all good and it couldn’t be when it’s philosophical basis was corrupt (that is, it was based on duty and obligation, not reverence to ones self and one’s deepest values) But the secular materialistic nihilistic interpretation of love, that of corrupting social trickery to keep people in check and monogamy as obligations handed down by pious tyrants is far more destructive, and both that and the old ways are much more unhealthy than the truth of the matter; that love is our response to our highest values and monogamy is not an obligation or duty that flies in the face of our ‘genetic tendencies’ toward polygamy, but instead is the highest and most profound tribute we can pay to one another. Religious indoctrinations of monogamy sought to acquire the cause of monogamy (the overwhelming desire to dedicate oneself to one person) by going through the motions of the effect, yet every wedding I have been to included both men and women present bemoaning and whining about being with the same person for the rest of their life and acting as though a wedding was a sorrowful moment of the final loss of freedom in a person’s life. Such is the only logical consequence possible when one removes the cause of an action, and goes only through the motions of it. If one feels disheartened at the prospect of perpetual monogamy and intimacy with only one person for the rest of their life, than they ought not be getting married in the first place. Pre wedding parties ought to be magnificent celebrations, not a spiritual funerals mourning the loss of single hood.
A lot of people wish for their prince charming or (what is the female equivalent, princess submissive?) to be loaded. Money, in it’s purest form, is a means to acquire values. In absence of values money has no worth. When people forget the purpose of their money, they often end up actually hurting the things they value in pursuit of more money, as they eventually associate money with a source of value and not a means to further values. The father who works long hours to buy a 4500 sq ft house and 3 SUV’s and white picket fence and Jacuzzi on the porch, if lucky, one day realizes why he never sees his wife or children. If unlucky, he just continues to live miserably perpetually wondering why the more he gets the less he feels. His pursuit of money got in the way of his pursuit of values.
When on the market for a relationship, you should always pick someone that embodies your deepest values. But look at the conceptual basis, not the particulars. Maybe they dress differently, or like a different kind of music, or have a different political viewpoint, but it is why they like those things that is important. It is the motivating principles behind their actions. Their overall outlook on the world. Someone may not have read as much or studied as much or went to school as long as you or have as much in the bank as you’d like. But they may have well been raising a family, or taking care of a sick relative, or just enjoying living, which is perfectly fine as we have no ‘debt’ to pay to the world for being alive (the last major secular remnant of original sin) Even if their political ideologies are a polar opposite, that is better than someone having no political opinions, at least the former actually cares about the world they live in the way you do, and tries to form an opinion on what makes it best; very stable solid ground for you to work from. The latter you can have no connection with. If a person of the former persuasion is intelligent, passionate, and rational, and you are as well, you will work out your differences of opinions and you will have no conflicts of interest.
Oddly, people almost always use the word love properly in every context but it’s most important one. Every time someone says “I love this car” or “I love this movie” or “I love this city” they recognize that those things are manifestations of their highest values, even if they don’t understand it explicitly. But when it comes to a person they love, forget it, most couldn’t name any of those qualities they admire or cherish. Go ahead and ask the person who loves you why they do, and ask yourself that of the person you love as well. People will spend hours complaining about their significant other, but when someone objects “well why don’t you break up with her” and they always quip, as if reflexively, “because I love her!” Yeah, but what do you mean by that? Why do you love her? Do you really love her (or him), or is it just that you don’t want to be alone and end up saying ‘eh, you’ll do’ at some point.
It is often fashionable to extol the virtues of unconditional love. Proper love, enlightening love, spiritually enlivening love, is inherently *very* conditional. Consider that if someone goes around and sleeps with everyone in sight (and what is sex after all but in it’s best the physical expression of your deepest admiration and respect for someone) people denigrate them to no end, calling them whores and gigolos and what not, yet we elevate to a moral virtue the idea of giving out love to everyone and everything, not matter what they do. Such an attitude takes any and all value it had away. To give love to anyone, to love all of humanity, means love has no meaning. Replace love with the brilliant or Olympic athlete and it becomes clear how equalizing diminishes value. If it is so wrong to give sex out unconditionally that why is it good to give love out unconditionally?
And in that theme, replace the word love with hate, which is always used in proper context, and the point is further demonstrated. If one insisted that they hated everyone for no reason we might lock them up in a mental institution. Usually people hate someone for a particular reason, that they hurt them or someone they cared about, or are just intrinsically terrible people. But we think loving anyone and everyone for no reason is morally healthy? In reality, the only people that benefit from this altruistic love are those who are least deserving of respect and admiration, and everyone else is hurt by it.
Consider then, conversely, the person who seeks sexual only relationships. Sex is inherently an intimate act. Trying to remove Sex of it’s intimacy is an absurdity. When having sex you are going through all the physical motions of deeply caring about someone, you are touching and caressing them in ways not appropriate in all other social contexts. If you find yourself sleeping with someone, and then wake up with them asking yourself “hmm, is it ok to spoon with them or is that weird?” “Hmm, can I hold hands?” Well, you just engaged in the ultimate extension of physical intimacy! And now you are skittish about holding hands and lying with your bodies close to each others! If such thoughts surface in your mind, then you know intrinsically that you weren’t at the point of sharing the deepest of all physically intimate acts with them.
So why did you sleep with them? Why do men (more often) and women seek sexual conquest? They want to feel better about themselves, returning back to the concept of basing your self value on other people’s reaction to you. The people that seek this tell themselves they just like the physical pleasure of the act, yet if that was the case masturbation would suffice. They tell themselves they just like sex, but if that was the case than prostitutes would suffice, and would willing women really have any troubles finding any random man to sleep with them? Hardly.
So clearly it is something more than the physical feeling of it and the company of a member of the opposite sex (or same, given your orientation) It is, in fact, the elevated sense of self worth that one hopes to acquire by engaging in the ultimate expression of physical intimacy. After all, the proper reason for doing such a thing is literally from mutual admiration and deep and profound respect. Seeking that from the physical expression of admiration is the ultimate form of the philosophical self deception of going through the motions of the effect to try to acquire the cause. Men seek woman who they think are morally pure and demanding, who portray an elevated sense of self respect, and who they fool themselves into thinking have made a great exception for their case. Women seek the same, spiritually, a man who will give them an elevated sense of self respect because of the status or the position of the man, what else could be the primary compulsion of women who flock to celebrities like cats in heat? The women the men seek to conquer have value because they allegedly reserve sex only for those specially unique and deserving people, thus allowing the man to convince himself that he actually is of a higher deserving stature. Both are no different than savages building runways out of bamboo poles and making radio sounds through their mouths, or society forcing monogamy on a relationships desiring of it, or someone buying a sports car that is way outside his means in order to impress his friends. They are all examples of, in Ayn Rand’s words, “going through the motions of the effect to try to acquire that which should have been the cause.”
In reality, in a healthy proper loving sexual relationship, both should be confined to only the rare instances and people that truly deserve it. To the people that express your deepest values. Love is the emotional price we pay for having values. The great thing about that kind of love, the kind of love that is based on respect and admiration, is that it is not required that it be requited. And if you think about it, should any ideal form of love require that to sustain it? If sex is the physical expression of love, then love can be sustained without it, even when your respective values drive you apart, the love is not diminished because that respect and admiration for the person remains. It does not require physical expression as sustenance, although that is an incredibly great addition. Jealousy, suspicion, paranoia, it all goes out the window. After all, would you ever want someone to be with you who didn’t actually want to be with you? Would you want someone to pretend to be your friend who didn’t really want to be? Would you really want someone you respect and admire and even cherish to sacrifice themselves, their identity, their sense of self, just so you wouldn’t be lonely? You would condemn someone you allegedly care about to self imprisonment. I don’t want friendship and especially love to be based on charity, that is insulting beyond measure.
I feel so many people are in unhealthy relationships that I hope I might get them to think a little longer and deeper about who they are and what they are doing. Remember, think about your values and integrate them fully into your life. Hold yourself up to your highest standards, and hold your significant other up to those standards as well. Do not put up with insults, manipulation, and deceit of any form or degree. Saying “no one is perfect” does not excuse people from even bothering to try. Love is our response to our highest values, love is the physiological response our bodies have toward the perception of that which we value most manifested in another person. Think about the values you base your relationships on. Convenience? Scared of being alone? Basing your self esteem on what your significant other thinks of you? Do you ever find yourself saying “you’ll do” or “well, sure he’s psycho but at least I am not alone” or “at least she hasn’t cheated on me” then you are very probably suffering from unhealthy relationship.
Consider last in all these cases who benefits from these twisted conceptions of love. Who benefits from insisting that one ought to love all fellow men? The people least deserving of it. Who suffers? Those most deserving of admiration and respect. Who benefits from insisting that love is something we have no control over? Those who don’t deserve it, those we would not love if we had any standards. We do have control over it because we have control over ourselves, our values and our integrity. The emotional response of love is a reflection of those. Who benefits from insisting that love is mysterious and magical? Again, those who don’t deserve it. Who benefits from the idea that love needs to be worked out? That relationships are hard and difficult? That marriage is work, that love is tough? The people who cause the conflicts that need to be worked out. The people who make relationships difficult by not respecting you and your individuality. Proper love is full of admiration and a deep and profound respect and cherishing, it is based on proper self esteem, self respect, and most importantly rational selfishness. I say the last because love can not be based on the absence of self, as is intrinsic behind the principles of self-less-ness. Without a self, without being able to say “I” you can not love someone. You can not have deep values and convictions and can not respond to them with emotions. To the extent that you abandon your ‘self’ is the extent at which you confuse and muddle love. Love is intrinsically and properly selfish. The proper relationship, the greatest kind of relationship, the most fulfilling, desirable and long lasting, comes from the meeting of the mutual desires of two intelligent, passionate, rational individuals with deep convictions and standards for themselves and others, not from people who abandon their passions and convictions.
The most important aspect about these comments on love and the nature of emotions, however, is that they are *right* Physical experiments prove the nature of emotions, that they are logical extensions of our deepest convictions (in healthy minds, severe physiological differences or chemical imbalances can very obviously alter the proper functioning of a system of perception, recognition and reaction that is based on physical bodies, minds, and molecules) They are not disconnected from our rational faculties, but are instead the ultimate logical extension of them. They are lighting quick calculators that assess the situation you are in and compare it to your values, thus invoking feelings of pleasure or pain. Brian scans and psychological experiments have proved as such over and over again, yet the idea remains completely outside the predominate cultural and philosophical interpretations of love. Why is that? Well that is a topic worthy of an even longer essay.
If you have found any value in these ideas on love and emotions, they come mostly from philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand and the great Aristotle, with minor contributions and extrapolations from myself and the many people I have discussed this topic with on different forums devoted to the ideas of both of these amazing people. Rand’s contributions on the nature and purpose of emotions are no doubt one of the most important contributions she made and some of the most important ideas for spiritual health of humanity.
Phoenix Trip part 1, Alcor Conference part 1
This past week I traveled to Phoenix and stayed there for about a week. I’ll write on the rest of my trip later, but the first few days of the trip and the primary purpose of it was to attend the 2006 Alcor Conference. Alcor, you might remember, was in the news recently as the company that allegedly houses the now cryogenically suspended body of baseball legend Ted Williams. This conference was not only about cryogenic suspension, and only two presentations dealt primarily with that topic, but it was much more so “An Inside look at the science and medicine of tomorrow” as the conference was called. Presenters and speakers included representations from other cryonics organizations, local and state government officials; who spoke on legal policies surrounding Alcor and the state of Arizona, and many prominent scientists in the fields of economics, mathematics, physics, and cryobiology.
The conference was held at the Scottsdale Marriott just outside of Phoenix, AZ. The Scottsdale Marriott was a gorgeous hotel, with an outdoor fireplace topped by lions and incredible view. At 280 a night it better be nice, but as conference attendees we were able to get a discount. Even so, I switched to a different hotel after the conference.
Given that, the conference was very professional and in an ornate hall. The first night was a reception on the water patio, near the pool and the fireplace and adorned with a fountain. We mingled at met a great number of incredibly interesting people and saw many people that we had read much from and about. The welcoming speaker was originally scheduled as the Arizona Secretary of State, who unfortunately could not make it. I believe the replacement speaker was from the local chamber of commerce who assured us of how friendly Scottsdale was to Alcor, he was intelligent and it seemed clear that he was well informed about Alcor and cryogenic suspension in general. After the welcoming speech we disbanded and mingled. Bonnie and I met Stephane and Magali from the Montreal area who were the two friendliest and most welcoming people I have met in my life. Both were Alcor members.
I also met Brenda, who was a film maker from Toronto, intent on doing a documentary on cryogenic preservation, she stated that her original intent was just to do a documentary, but after researching it herself she was now interested in signing up. I am eager to see the results of her work. The night was full of interesting and fascinating people, lawyers, bankers, retired people, engineers, people from all walks of life. These were not crazy people or socially mal adjusted people, but mostly normal people. I say mostly because they, and we, shared one major trait that the majority of the population does not. We truly love our lives, love being alive, and love all the splendor and joy the world can bring us. And in that, we are comfortable acting in accordance with our deepest values.
The next morning marked the real beginning of the conference. It started with a continental breakfast in the beautiful Arizona sun by the pool and a fountain. We all chatted and said hello to our friends we made the night before, and then moved on into the ballroom.
It looked as though about 200 – 300 people were in attendance, the ball room was fantastic. We found our seats and waited for the conference to start, the feeling was excited and electric. It was incredible to be in a room of such strongly like minded individuals.
We were welcomed by the publicist of Alcor, who relayed an overview of the conference and gave a brief history of the field of cryobiology then moved onto the first speaker.
The first speaker was Dr. Theodore Kraver, a PhD in mechanical engineering from Arizona State University and a degree in Aeronautical and Astronautically engineering from MIT. He was major player in the field of cryogenic fuel storage technology for NASA in the 60’s (rocket fuel is cryogenically cooled so the powerful gaseous full is condensed into a more manageable liquid) Dr Kraver and some associates formed the first cryogenic suspension company and he designed the suspension storage chambers which is extensive background in cryogenic fuel storage was vital to the NASA Apollo program. Dr Kraver gave a history of Cryonics in America, from the first patients and suspension technologies to the modern facilities available at Alcor and the Cryonics Institute.
Dr. James H Bedford, the first and oldest cryogenics patient surrounding by wasteful melodramatic venting of liquid nitrogen.
The following segment was a panel discussion involving Arizona State Representatives Michele Reagan (R) and Linda Lopez (D). The discussion was moderated by Alcor’s public policy consultant, Barry M. Aarons. The conversation centered around the political climate surrounding Alcor and cryogenic preservation in general. About two years ago a bill was proposed in Arizona that would have essentially placed Alcor’s cryogenic facility under the regulations of funeral parlors, which would have required either embalming or cremation of patients. Michele Reagan and Linda Lopez, of opposing political parties, centered on common ground and fought the bill; preventing it from passing. Today Linda Lopez is sponsoring an end of life options bill with specific provisions legally guarding cryogenic preservation. This discussion raised a lot of questions by the audience concerning the influence of the predominant political climate and the effects it would have on cryogenic preservation. Most were worried, justifiably in many ways, about the rise of the religious right in America. However America currently has the only political climate supportive of cryogenic suspension at all. Australia follows closely behind. As a later speaker, Brian Wowk, pointed out, it is the extreme left of Europe that has created a political structure which completely represses alternative end of life options like cryogenic suspension. In most European countries cryogenic suspension is outright illegal. One can only wonder why this allegedly intellectually superior and much more secular culture has only one Alcor member (whom we befriended) in the whole of the European Union and has made any attempts at starting a cryogenic suspension organization illegal and has made it nearly impossible for a patient, when they die, to be brought to the US for suspension. As Alcor put it, if you are a member, do NOT die in France. Desiring cryogenic suspension is absolutely not a manifestation of religion, if European culture is as strongly one of secular enlightenment as it prides itself on, the only thing that would make the concept of cryogenic suspension as alien as it is would be a deeply embedded nihilism.
The next presentation on Nanomedicine and Medical Nanorobotics was given by Robert A Freitas Jr.
This was probably the most amazing of the presentations. Dr Freitas is the Sr. Research Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing and is the author of the “Nanomedicine” series. He is a major player in the emerging field of Nanotechnology, designing many of the currently projected molecular assembling technologies and is also a member of the Lifeboat Foundation, which I an early member of and work closely with. His presentation was the first time I have seen a clear conceptual representation of the scale of nanotechnology. His animations and lectures detailed exactly how one could make an assembly system which starts from individual carbon atoms, grabs them in diamond tips and assembles them in perfect geometric patterns in more tips and more assemblers. The assemblies are added to other assemblies, and those to others. The animation follows the journey of an individual atom through these conceptual manufacturing systems all the way to the end, where it becomes a nanotechnological computer, whose computing power probably equals that of all the computers in the world combined (nanotechnology could potentially fit computers with modern computing power into devices too small to be seen with a naked eye)
This phenomenal animation can be viewed here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqyZ9bFl_qg
Another excellent animation of a practical nanotechnology application is the Dermal Display http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bt-lv6IJPxc This founding concept of this animation was developed by Robert Frietas and his presentation narrated it. The animation was created by a fellow extropian member and animator, Gina Miller.
Robert also spoke of some of the promising examples of nanomedicine, including artificial red blood cells which hold hundreds of times as much oxygen as standard red blood cells do and might allow a human to hold their breath for hours, artificial platelets which would clot blood in microseconds, even major injuries, and artificial white blood cells which could be programmed to attack specific pathogens, rendering humans immune to all unwanted bacterial and viral infections.
Respirocyte inside a blood vessel with neighboring red blood cells
A small nanorobot is show here repairing a neuron and tracing it’s neural connections.
Ultimately, the point of Robert’s presentation was to give some concrete examples of Nanotechnological applications that will be able to repair damage to the human body at the molecular and eventually atomic level. Perhaps advanced cryogenic preservation techniques will avoid molecular damage problems all together, but they are a consequence of current cryogenic preservation techniques. Robert’s presentation gave real cause for optimism in the area and for the hopes of future medical capabilities.
The next speaker to take the stage was Ralph Merkle, PhD. Ralph gave a more lighthearted conceptual overview of modern nanotechnology and societal conceptions of cryogenic suspension. He emphasized that while cryogenic suspension was indeed experimental and no one could guarantee it’s success, would one really want to be part of the control group or part of the experimental group?
An animated simulation of a molecular differential gear designed by Eric Drexler and Ralph Merkle
Following that was a Cryonics Organizations Today Panel discussion featuring Tanya Jones from Alcor, Melody Maxim from Suspended Animation, and Ben Best from Cryonics Inc. There is a lot of sordid history behind cyronics organizations, and given the very limited number and predominate cultural distaste for them, one is left with a feeling of disappointment at the lack of cohesiveness. It appears that there is a lot of ‘bad blood’ between Alcor and the Cryonics Institute, but the new heads of both organizations are extending considerable effort to bring the organizations together and to share and licensed technology. I have no idea what the bad history was between these organizations and frankly couldn’t be bothered to find out. The Cryonics Institute offers less expensive cryogenic options and would not disclose any information on their vitrification process, which wouldn’t be divulged until a patent was protecting it. Alcor seems more professional in it’s presentation and function, but is more expensive. Suspended Animation is a company dedicated to the actual vitrification and preservation process, which involves replacing blood with a cryoprotectant (a liquid that prevents water from freezing) and stabilizing and cooling the body. If you are interested in getting a cryogenic suspension then choosing which storage facility to go with and whether you would like suspended animation to do the actual suspension or the respective storage facility requires considerable reasoned investigation.
The next speaker was J. Storrs Hall, PhD, who was lecturing on the type of society that awaits those revived. This was probably the least favorite of the lectures I heard and I cringed at quite a few parts. I dislike these kind of futurist expositions, in reality it is very difficult to have any idea about what the functionality of society would be like 100 or 500 years from now. Some key relevant points he made, however, were that if you were revived, it would obviously be in a society which values life intrinsically, since they wouldn’t have gone through the effort to revive you otherwise. Often people cite dystopian futures for reasons not wanting to be revived, and even though all historical trends argue against these dystopian futures (the world is getting better and better, cleaner, and people are living better and longer lives than ever before, and there are fewer wars and fewer percentages of the population starving now than ever in the history of humanity) if those futures were so dystopian, they would not revive you anyway.
Dr. Hall then went on to the ideas I don’t like, talking about uploading and copying and “transferring your consciousness” to another body, robotic or otherwise. Such a transfer, if non-invasive, would merely be a copy of you (since you obviously continue to exist, that transfer could in no possible way be a continuation of you) and if the copying mechanism was destructive, destroying the original does not make the question moot as you are still dead. I find this mentality frequently among transhumanists and extropians who are more than happy to equate copying and uploading with “you” and I am absolutely surprised at it’s presence because it is such a naïve position, especially in minds like Dr Hall’s. Later Ralph Merkle shared the same surprising sentiment, equating copies with continuations of the original and equating it to sleeping and waking up. Well, when one goes to sleep there is no logical reason to assume they were destroyed, disassembled and re-assembled. Just because something could have happened does not make it rational to act as though it did. Basic scientificl and logical principles of parsimony and Occam’s razor require interpreting the real world only on data that is required as part of the explanation. Imaging things where there is no evidence to support is irrational and extremely unscientific. Thankfully, the next lecturer challenged both on this point. Being an econonomist, and the son of one of the most famous economists (yes there are famous economists, no Paul Krugman doesn’t count) and a physicist I feel no doubt helped solidify his rational mindset.
I will end part one on that note, look for the second part of this in the near future.
Alcor’s home page – http://www.alcor.org
Eric Drexlers Foresight Institute – http://www.Foresight.org
Ralph Merkle’s home page - http://www.merkle.com/
The War in Iraq Is Going Either Very Well or Very Poorly... Or So-So... I Think
The War in Iraq Is Going Either Very Well or Very Poorly... Or So-So... I Think
“After listening to the numerous opinions on the Iraq War, it has become quite obvious that something is happening in that country. The current state of affairs will most certainly be detrimental to the Middle East's future unless it is beneficial or of no effect whatsoever. This goes doubly for Iraqis themselves. And I can say that with great certainty as it the opinion of the numerous pundits who have been to Iraq or read a book on Iraq or saw numerous news stories on Iraq as well as the numerous pundits who have listened to those pundits. While some (or many) may argue that some (or many) of those opinions are based more on biases than facts, it is important to remember that that doesn't mean those opinions are wrong. Unless they are wrong... but they may not be. So keep that in mind….”
An excellent editorial emphasizing the fallacy of those ‘Who has it all figured out’
and their direct extrapolation of their infinite knowledge to a crystal ball like assessment of the current state of world affairs. It is amazing how every cab driver, school teacher, coffee shop hippie bum, IT desk jockey (I am not exempt) “knows” exactly what will happen in Iraq, why it happened, what should have been done, what shouldn’t have been done, and what the world will be like because of it in 50 or 100 years. As this amusing and entertaining editorial emphasizes, no matter what you feel you will get plenty of information, books, news articles, media, and pundits to back you up. The war in Iraq may cause civilization to come to an end, inspiring a global jihad, or it may prevent it’s collapse through precipitating a Berlin wall like collapse of fundamentalist terror breeding states in the middle east. How do you _know_ what the outcome will be?
Lets take a step back and try to make a healthy assessment of the current state of the world and what is going on it. No one has it all figured out, the Iraq war would not have turned out perfect no matter how much planning went into it (but it could have been better?) nor do you or I know that invading Iran instead would have been better, or that invading no where would have not merely adjusted the current ‘cause celebre’ to simply something else, there always has been one, after all. US intervention during the cold war certainly seeded a lot of the animosity present in the Middle East today, but western culture in general breeds plenty of animosity on it’s own, without military presence in the holy land or historical meddling. The world, the current geo political climate, is very complex, and very large, and no single human mind can completely understand it. To come to an ‘opinion’ of the war in Iraq after reading a couple news paper articles and then proclaiming divine wisdom, is really the height of arrogance.
The are many compelling and intelligent arguments to be made for and against the war in Iraq and there are many stupid arguments on both sides. It can be quite common that people with identical values (the desire to see a safe, free world for ourselves and our children for example) can come to entirely different conclusions yet both remain completely logical. The key difference will likely be in their information sets. Some people keep their information sets confined and censored, others open and constantly adjusting. One must learn as much as possible and form as rational an opinion as possible, but one also must pick a go-no go date and finally act on their judgment. You cant perpetually deliberate on a complex decision, especially if it is one that is a matter of life and death. Yet the matter of life and death decisions are the ones that ought to be deliberated most carefully.
What line do you tread? How sure are you of your opinion? Would you stake your life on it? Your wealth? You car? You could be completely and utterly wrong, even if you perpetually aspire to always be accurate, rational, and un biased. You can stand by your own judgements if they are rational and well informed, but be carefull in condemning others for judgements different than yours, they probably know many things you do not, and vice versa, but you both probably have many common values.