The economics and probabilities of cryogenics

Some people I know have contracted to have their heads chopped off and frozen after (before? during?) their death.  Here is one fun and engaging calculation of one’s chances of resurrection:

At the end, then, what is the combined probability of success? If all my best case figures are used, P(now) from the Warren Equation is 0.15, or a  bit better than one chance in seven. This is my most optimistic scenario. The pessimistic scenario puts P at 0.0023, or less than one chance in 400.

The idea that (in my personal estimation) cryonics has all told at best only   a 15% chance of working, may be a bit shocking. But answers of this sort fall naturally out of chained probability equations. Like it or not, the Warren equation simply forces one to remember that the success of cryonics depends on the correctness of at least four separate physical hypotheses, the fortunate consummation of at least eight modern social trends, and some luck in the circumstances surrounding one’s demise. That’s a lot of hurdles. Even if the probability for each of these 13 factors is a flat 95%, the total probability of success would still only be 51% — barely better than flipping a coin.

My take: The true estimate should be even more pessimistic.  I think simply no one will care to thaw you out.

Addendum: Robin Hanson responds…


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