19 July 2012

Plastination 2

Plastination 2


I blogged about Plastination, a potential alternative to cryonics.

Luke's comment got me to write more (always a risk commenters take)

The biggest problem

The big problem in plastination is that it is hit-or-miss. What it preserves, it seems to preserve well, but in current SOA, whole sections of the brain might be unpreserved. The researchers who developed it didn't care about bringing their lab rats back from the dead, so that was considered good enough.

From a layman's POV, infusing the whole brain doesn't look harder than cryonics infusing the whole brain with cryoprotectant, but there could be all sorts of technical details that make me wrong.

So which wins, plastination or cryonics?

A lot depends on which you judge more likely in a reasonable time-frame: repair nanobots or emulation. I'd judge emulation much more likely. We can already emulate roundworms and have partly emulated fruit flies. So I suspect Moore's law makes human emulation in a reasonable time-frame much more likely than not.

Can we prove it?

One thing I like about plastination-to-emulation is that we could prove it out now. Teach a fruit fly some trick, or let it learn something meaningful to a fruit fly - maybe the identity of a rival, if fruit flies learn that.

Plastinate its brain, emulate it. Does it still know what it learned? And know it equally well? If so, we can justifiably place some confidence in this process. If not, we've just found a bug to fix.

So with plastination-to-emulation, we have the means to drive a debugging cycle. That's very good.

Difference in revival population dynamics

One difference that I don't know what to make of: If they work, the population dynamics of revival would probably be quite different.

In plastination-to-emulation, revival becomes possible for everybody at the same time. If you can scan in one plastinated brain, you can scan any one.

In cryonics-to-cure-and-thaw, I expect there'd be waves as the various causes of death were solved. Like, death from sudden heart attack might be cured long before Alzheimer's disease became reversible, if ever.

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