Profile of Robin Hanson and Peggy Jackson (his wife)

Shortly after they met, Peggy and Robin decided to read each other’s favorite works of literature. Peggy asked Robin to read “The Brothers Karamazov,” and he asked her to read “The Lord of the Rings.” She hated it. “I asked him why he loved it, and he said: ‘Because it’s so full of detail. This guy has invented this whole world.’ He asked me why I hated it, and I said: ‘Because it’s so full of detail. There was nowhere for the reader to imagine her own interpretation.’ ” Robin, less one for telling stories, describes their early days more succinctly. “There was,” he says not without tenderness, “a personality-type convergence.”

That's from the NYT, by Kerry Howley, most of it is on cryonics and attitudes toward death.  For the pointer I thank Michelle Dawson.  Here is Robin himself on the article.  Here is Bryan on Kerry on RobinMy question is: why not save someone else's life instead?

There is more I could say…but I won't!


"why not save someone else's life instead?"

Because that's their job, and they aren't supporting cryonics, or we try to convince them and they still make fun of us.

That would be Will Wilkinson's whatever, Kerry Howley? Well aren't you guys a little network.

Why does Hanson assume that his life would be welcome in a world where people are smart enough to bring him back to life?

A society smart enough to bring him back alive would make him a comparative ape. Could he function in such an advanced society? He'd love to try? What makes him think he wouldn't be experimented on?

If we were able to bring a Cro-Magnon to life, what would his life be like? He'd be studied, tortured, experimented upon.

I don't trust scientists to "do the right" thing by me when awakening.

I sense a lot of cognitive dissonance in these debates. People are debating today on the one hand versus tomorrow on the other. I'm pretty sure me and Robin Hanson want EVERYONE to live as long as possible, and that needs supporters, boosters, and first adopters. The response we get is "how selfish you are!" It's nonsensical.

Lastly, probably I think the best charity I've ever given is to Hospice. I feel bad every time I think about not having given more.

The extreme egotists/cryo subscribers are out; they seem, if anything, nastier than the Sailer-fans who hang around here sometimes.

What I really want to know is: What did Robin think of "The Brothers Karamazov"?

Burger Flipper - that bloggingheads video with Singer is a classic.

I much prefer Tyler's outlook to Robin's. And not just because I'm some beta male who heaps praise on altruistic attitudes in hopes of encouraging altruism that will someday benefit me.

I recommend James L. Halperin's novel, The First Immortal. It's an exploration of the legal, social and technological issues associated with cryonics.

Halperin admits that cryonics is grasping at straws. But when you're dangling over the edge of a cliff and straws are all you have to grasp, why is giving in to certain death more virtuous?

@Mike - I disagree that if we brought a Cro-Magnon to life that we would torture him as you assume. We would study him, yes. There would be tests of his intelligence and assessments of his personality, yes. Probably medical tests too. Perhaps you would qualify this as "experimenting" on him. There would surely be efforts to integrate him socially with us. I guess that's an experiment of sorts too, but hardly a nefarious one. But what in the world makes you think we would torture him? What would be the point?

Similarly, why are you so paranoid about future scientists? Has the human race become more savage or less over time? If you're inclined to say more, then I suggest you take another look at history. We have become increasingly devoted to individual rights and over time. Do you envision some sort of future apocalypse which demolishes our humanities yet somehow keeps our sciences intact?

Andrew - Robin assumes this rationalist scientific worldview (as do I pretty much) when it comes to healthcare, as to so much else. However, as a rational actor, how do you prefer the continuation of your life over someone else's? By what moral principle could that be justified? Your genetic superiority in some respect, such as intelligence?

Tyler engages Robin on his own terms and defeats him oftentimes. And, if you haven't, check out the blogging heads of his dialogue with Peter Singer. One of the greatest takedowns of a philosopher by an economist that I've witnessed since reading Posner on Rawls.

JLS, Brothers K is great.

Tyler Fan, homo economicus (assumed to be a rational actor) prefers his own well-being to others. Hanson's one moral principle is "People should get what they want", and he wants to be frozen. If there are other competing demands, those demanding them should propose a deal. That's how "dealism" works.

What baffling about the selfishness argument is that the amount of money spent over the course of a lifetime is well in line with what you might spend to keep up a nice AV room (gotta upgrade that TV), buying books/media, belonging to a country club or any number of widely accepted 'selfish' personal expenditures.

Regardless of whether cryonics works the social (and certainly psychological) benefit to the cryo enthusiast is a reasonable return on the expenditure. It's way less selfish and wasteful than buying yourself a high status car.

What makes this even more puzzling is that I'm unaware of a similarly widespread response to a spouse's weekly affordable donations to their church when their partner doesn't believe. Unlike mere waste in this case the partner presumably thinks it's desirable not to promote belief in something they view to be false. (Yes they do charity but weekly collections are largely used to run the organization/employ vicars/imams/etc).

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