Created: 2020-02-02 | Updated: 2020-05-07
Premise: If It’s Worth Doing, It’s Worth Doing With Made-up Statistic
- Metaculus — How many humans will have their brain preserved on January 1st, 2030?
- Metaculus — How many patients will be in cryonic suspension at the Cryonics Institute in 2030?
Doubling time for the number of people that got cryopreserved has been pretty consistently 9 years since the beginning.
If a body is disposed of because it was proven to not have been properly preserved, it still counts in the total number. If a body is disposed / destroyed for another reason, it doesn’t count in the total. A preserved brain counts as 1 even if only part of the brain / identity is preserved.
Brains accidentally preserved such as those for scientific studies unrelated to cryonics don’t count.
People preserved digitally, but without having their brain preserved doesn’t count for the purpose of this text.
If a patient has been revived / uploaded, they still count in the total patient count.
Non-human animals don’t count for the purpose of this text.
On January 1st, 2030
Simple extrapolation would give us 1009 patients.
The raw data for the above graph comes from the list of cryonics patients.
Average absolute deviation from trend has been 4.18, but this seems very low, so I’ll just go with 50 from intuition.
To improve this prediction, I also made predictions of patient count for various organizations (see graph below). I think the trend for the “Other” category actually significantly undershoot what will actually happen as new organizations tend to bring more growth, and there will be two new organizations very soon (ie. the European Biostasis Foundation and Southern Cryonics). I also think the projection for Yinfeng Biological Group is much more uncertain (given they are new), and probably more modest (given they are still private; ie. not everyone can become a member).
I have a larger uncertainty for the patient count of specific organizations than for the total count given my uncertainty over the number of cryonics members that will switch to another organization. I combined this prediction with the probability of a disaster to update the initial simple extrapolation. Disasters can include: misreporting of number of patients, insolvency, natural catastrophe, voluntary attack, change of law, or error. I also made predictions for take-off caused by the Yinfeng Biological Group and the European Biostasis Foundation which are two new promising organizations. You can see the model here: https://www.getguesstimate.com/models/15142 (or in the image below).
Details from where the numbers come from:
- Alcor: 3.31-0.994*x+0.0709*x^2-5.44*10^-4*x^3+1.21*10^-5*x^4 where x=63.76 = 287 (WolframAlpha)
- Cryonics Institute: 10.7-4.17*x+0.261*x^2-4.99*10^-3*x^3+4.94*10^-5*x^4 where x=63.76 = 329 (WolframAlpha)
- KrioRus: 6.01*x-261 where x=63.76 = 122 (WolframAlpha)
- Yinfeng Biological Group take-off: sum of 1.25^x for x from 1 to 10 = 42 (WolframAlpha)
- Other: -1.47+0.567*x-0.0327*x^2+5.72*10^-4*x^3 where x=63.76 = 50 (WolframAlpha)
- Everything else comes mostly from my intuition
Sanity check: checking whether the sum of the predicted number of patients for each organization is the samed as the number of patients predicted from the overall trend.
The sum of the organization’s patient count forecast is exactly the same as the total patient count forecast. When I initially made it, it summed to something like 995, but I then adjusted the “Other” part both to make it match and also because I thought it made sense.
My final probability distribution for the number of patients on January 1st 2030 is in the “Forecasted number of patients” box on the Guesstimate model.
In the next centuries
The doubling time is 8 years if we don’t count thawed patients (WolframAlpha), and 9 years if we do count them (WolframAlpha). The latter trend has been followed more precisely since the beginning of cryonics.
A naive extrapolation of the current trend would put the following milestones (patient: year if 8-year doubling time – year if 9-year doubling time) (WolframAlpha):
- 1: 1967 – 1966
- 10: 1987 – 1969
- 100: 2001 – 1998
- 1k: 2029 – 2030
- 10k: 2056 – 2061
- 100k: 2083 – 2091
- 1M : 2110 – 2122
- 10M: 2136 – 2152
- 100M: 2163 – 2183
- 1B: 2190 – 2213
- 10B: 2216 – 2243
- 100B: 2243 – 2274
- 1T: 2270 – 2304
Following are some reasons I can imagine the future count would deviate from the current trend, although a lot of those could also just be part of the trend — I think the sections ‘extinction’, ‘change in rate of change’, and ‘underlying population’ are the most likely to make the trend deviate, although I would only put medium probability mass on the trend continuing long term in the first place. The list below is not exhaustive.
- [time: next few decades to centuries; probability: medium; severity: high]
If human went extinct, this could obviously affect the number of cryonics patients; it’s not impossible that we would preserve them indefinitely, until another intelligent species arose on Earth or an alien civilization discovered us, but that’s really hard and a long shot in any case
Probability of working
- [time: next few decades; probability: low; severity: high]
An “early” failure from a major cryonics provider could reduce the trust in the whole field, and push back the growth of cryonics for a while
- [time: next few decades; probability: low; severity: medium]
The Cryonics Institute could offer a neuro option, which would increase the accessibility, and thus membership
- although CI has been arguing than this would tarnish the image of cryonics
- also, remote patients without a cryonics SST team are probably generally poorly preserved, and the relative price difference wouldn’t be as important for those with a SST contract: stabilization and transport cost 30,000 USD, and standby at least 7,500 USD, so even if the cryopreservation went from 28,000 USD to 13,000 USD (similar ratio to Alcor), then the total cost would only go from at least 65,500 USD to at least 50,500 USD. but maybe a significant portion of people would be ready to relocate near CI if a 13k$ neuro option was available. More on this here: Should there be more affordable cryonics options?
- [time: next few decades; probability: medium; severity: low-medium]
An SST team could offer services internationally for the Cryonics Institute, hence making cheaper cryonics accessible internationally (currently, only Alcor offers worldwise SST services
- [time: decades to centuries; probability: low; severity: high]
A change of law in a country where cryonics is popular could make it harder to perform
- [time: decades to centuries; probability: low-medium; severity: high]
The Chinese government could support / approve or block / disapprove of cryonics.
- The Chinese government has been pushing for more “civilized” burrial methods for decades; see: Burning Up: Rage over China’s Cremation Push is Justified
- [time: next few decades; probability: low-medium; severity: low-high]
Cryonics could turn out to be more popular in countries that don’t currently have a cryonics service provider; for example, the exponential growth could be faster in China
- [time: many decades – centuries; probability: medium?; severity: medium?]
Update in belief that cryonics isn’t necessary because of an increased belief that an atlernative path to longevity is likely, whether credible or not, such as: increased belief in a religious afterlife, in soon solving aging, in digital reconstruction, etc.
Change in rate of change
- [time: many decades – centuries; probability: medium; severity: high]
Change in the economic growth rate: it could increase (ex.: Economic Growth Given Machine Intelligence) or stagnate or collapse
- [time: many decades – centuries; probability: medium-high; severity: high]
Important change in human intelligence, espetially intelligence enhancement, but also disgenic pressures
- [time: many decades – centuries; probability: initially low; severity: high]
The mortality rate could change, which would reduce the fraction of people that could use cryopreservation; also see: number of deaths per year
- [time: centuries; severity: beside the point]
The world population (also fertility rate) could change, which would affect how many people can ultimately become cryonics patients
In December 1964, after two years of promoting the concept of cryonics, Evan Cooper fumed in exasperation: “Are we shouting in the abyss? How could 110 million go to their deaths without one, at least trying for a life in the future via freezing? Where is the individualism, scientific curiosity, and even eccentricity we hear so much about?”
As of Jan 2019, I estimated that 2.9 billion have died unpreserved since the first effort to cryopreserve people. I predict many more will suffer the same faith. But I work towards reducing that number.