Inverse cryonics: one weird trick to persuade anyone to sign up for cryonics today!

OK, slight dis­claimer, this is a bit of a joke ar­ti­cle in­spired by me watch­ing a few re­cent videos and news re­ports about cry­on­ics. Nev­er­the­less, there is a se­ri­ous side to it.

Many peo­ple claim that it is ir­ra­tional to sign up for cry­on­ics, and get­ting into the nitty gritty with them about how likely it is to work seems to turn into a se­ries of small skir­mishes with no par­tic­u­lar “win con­di­tion”. Op­po­nents will not say,

“OK, I will value my life at $X and if you can con­vince me that (cry­on­ics suc­cess prob­a­bil­ity)*$X is greater than the $1/​day fee, I will con­cede the ar­gu­ment”.

Rather, they will re­treat to a se­ries of ever harder to falsify po­si­tions, usu­ally end­ing up at a po­si­tion which is so vague that it is ba­si­cally pure mood af­fili­a­tion and acts as a way to stop the con­ver­sa­tion rather than as a true ob­jec­tion. I have seen it many times with friends.

So, I pro­pose that be­fore you de­bate some­one about cry­on­ics, you should first try to sign then up for in­verse cry­on­ics. In­verse cry­on­ics is a very sim­ple pro­ce­dure, fully sci­en­tifi­cally tested that any­one can sign up for to­day, as long as they have a rea­son­ably well-off bene­fac­tor to take the “other side” of the bet. Let me ex­plain.

The in­verse cry­on­ics pa­tient takes a sim­ple re­volver with 6 bar­rels, with one bul­let loaded and spins the bar­rel on the gun, then shoots them­selves once in the head1. If the in­verse cry­onaut is un­lucky enough to shoot them­selves with a bar­rel con­tain­ing a real bul­let, they will blow their brains out and die in­stantly and per­ma­nently. How­ever, if they are lucky, the bene­fac­tor must pay them $1 per day for the rest of their lives.

Ob­vi­ously you can vary the risk, re­wards and timings of in­verse cry­on­ics. The death event could be post­poned for 20 years, the risk could be cranked up or down, and the re­ward could be in­creased or de­creased or paid out as a fu­ture dis­counted lump sum. The key is that sign­ing up for in­verse cry­on­ics should be math­e­mat­i­cally iden­ti­cal to not sign­ing up for cry­on­ics.

As a baseline, cry­on­ics seems to cost ~$1/​day for the rest of your life in or­der to avoid a ~1/​10 chance of dy­ing2. Most peo­ple3 would not play ~10-bar­rel Rus­sian Roulette for a $1/​day stipend, even with de­layed death or an in­stant ~$50k pay­out.

In fact,

  • if you be­lieve that cry­on­ics costs ~$1/​day for the rest of your life in or­der to avoid a ~1/​10 chance of dy­ing4 and

  • you are offered 11-bar­rel Rus­sian roulette for that same ~$1/​day as a stipend, or even an in­stant $50k payout

then
  • as a ra­tio­nal agent you shouldn’t re­fuse both offers

Of course, I’m sure op­po­nents of cry­on­ics won’t bite this par­tic­u­lar bul­let, but at the very least it may provide an ex­tra in­tu­ition pump to move peo­ple away from ob­ject­ing to cry­on­ics be­cause it’s the “risky” op­tion.

Com­ments and crit­i­cisms wel­come.


1. Depend­ing on the spe­cific deal, more than six bar­rels could be used, or sev­eral iden­ti­cal guns could be used where only one bar­rel from one gun con­tains a real bul­let, al­low­ing one to achieve a rea­son­able range of prob­a­bil­ities for “los­ing” at in­verse cry­on­ics from 1 in 6 to per­haps one in 60 with ten guns.

2. And push­ing the prob­a­bil­ity of cry­on­ics work­ing down much fur­ther seems to be very hard to defend sci­en­tifi­cally, not that peo­ple haven’t tried. It be­comes es­pe­cially hard when you as­sume that the cry­on­ics or­ga­ni­za­tions stick around for ~40 years, and so­ciety sticks around with­out ma­jor dis­rup­tions in or­der for a young po­ten­tial cry­onaut who signs up to­day to ac­tu­ally pay their life in­surance fees ev­ery day un­til they die.

3. Most in­tel­li­gent, sane, rel­a­tively well-off peo­ple in the de­vel­oped world, i.e. the kind of peo­ple who re­ject cry­on­ics.

4. And you be­lieve that the life you miss out on in the fu­ture will be as good, or bet­ter than, the life you are about to live from to­day un­til your nat­u­ral death at a fixed age of, say, 75.