Fourth Asset Preservation Group meeting

On the weekend of April 23-25 I attended a meeting of the cryonics Asset Preservation Group held at the estate of Ken Weiss near Gloucester, Massachusetts

I will try to give a few brief summaries without going into detail about every presentation.

Lori Rhodes, who is Terasem’s Legal Researcher, is working to create legally recognized category of autopsy specific for cryonics projects. I am admittedly somewhat cynical about the prospects of getting the rights of a tiny and ill respected minority such as cryonicists recognized by the legal system, but perhaps I am wrong. Marvin Minsky, who attended this meeting with his wife, has influential friends in high places who might be of help.

Lori mentioned that because of better diagnosis and imaging tools, the autopsy rate has been dropping.

Mike Perry distributed his paper “Options for Brain-Threatening Disorders” and discussed its contents. He mentioned Terasem’s CyBeRev project for storing “mindfiles” from which it is hoped that individuals could be reconstructed. The Society for Universal Immortalism — of which Mike is President — has a similar project, but UI will also store resin-embedded genomic samples at room temperature.

Mike discussed Voluntary Stopping of Eating and Drinking (VSED) as an option from cryonics patients with a brain-threatening disease. He discussed the book A HASTENED DEATH BY SELF-DENIAL OF FOOD AND DRINK by Boudewijn Cabot

In June 1990 Linda Chamberlain’s mother was able to use VSED for cryonics purposes with sympathetic assistance in a hospital because lung cancer had metastasized to the brain and she was legally “terminal”. This might not be so easy for an Alzheimer’s Disease patient who still had enough wits to know what to do, but was not far advanced enough to be classified as terminal. Mike mentioned Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal, and citizenship in the country is not required. Dignitas is a Swiss organization with medical staff that will even provide assisted suicide for persons with incurable mental illness. Mike hopes for Dignitas or a similar organization to assist with cryonics cases.

Steve Valentine discussed the Timeship project. I have heard him speak of this many times before, but this time I took a special note of his earthquake risk map. I noticed that Alcor and CI are in the second-safest seismic risk category. It may not mean anything, but Alcor is close to the highest seismic risk areas and CI is close to the lowest risk areas.

Bruce Waugh addressed the issue of how to invest for the next hundred years. He gave 2006 inflation-adjusted 205-year return on
$1 invested in 1801 as:

Stocks: $755,163
Bonds: $1,083
Treasuries: $301
Gold: $2
Cash: 6 cents

Bruce said that the historic risk premium on equities is 5%. From the return on treasuries he gave, I calculate a risk-free premium of 1.42%.

For the last ten years he gave the following returns:

Managed futures: 87%
Bonds: 68%
Real Estate: 55%
Bank interest: 34%
Commodities: 33%
World stocks: -6%
US stocks: -12%

Bruce is an independent futures systems trader whose trading falls into the managed futures category.

For the next hundred years nanotechnology, biotechnology and artificial intelligence could have significant impact, especially on equity and commodity values. Bruce suggested making investments into companies that will improve the chances of revival, such as those doing research into nanotechnology and cryobiology.

Political, financial, and social changes are very hard to predict. Bruce would allocate about a third of a 100 year portfolio into the broad stock market, with a switch to cash during downturns (defined as when the S&P 500 falls below its 200 day average). He would put portions of the rest into managed futures, art, commodities and real estate with nothing into bonds or treasuries.
(Bruce Waugh giving his presentation.)

Peggy Hoyt is a Florida lawyer who is working with Rudi Hoffman to write a book about legal and financial issues of concern to cryonicists. She distributed a paper concerning cryonics advanced directives, although she has the unfortunate habit of using the word “cryogenic” for “cryonic”, which is one of my pet peeves. Which reminds me that she has her own law firm and has a special interest in writing trusts that provide for pets.

Of special interest to me was Peggy’s comment that no-contest (in terrorem) clauses in wills are completely unenforceable in Florida. Cryonicists often speak of writing provisions in their wills to disinherit any relative who interferes or tries to interfere with their cryonics arrangements, but apparently this is not possible in Florida. According to Wikipedia, however, such clauses are fully enforceable in California.

I cannot find any website that gives state-by-state information on which states allow such clauses and which ones do not, so a local attorney is advised for someone planning to include such provisions in a will.

Peggy showed me a recent book she has written entitled THANK EVERYBODY FOR EVERYTHING.

Looking at Amazon, it appears that she has written many books, mostly with co-authors.

John Dedon and Ralph Merkle spoke about the wealth preservation trust that they are developing for Alcor Members — the Alcor Model Trust. It is still under review whether the Alcor Model Trust is compatible with Alcor’s 501(c)3 status, although they don’t expect a problem.

Alcor will be given the responsibility for identifying the reanimated cryonicist as being the ultimate beneficiary of a trust. In exchange for a modest payment to Alcor ($500 to $1,000), Alcor will review the individual trust and will appoint Trust Advisors. The Trust Advisors, in turn, will appoint trustees. The Trust Advisors will be empowered to change trustees, if necessary.

Alcor would be the immediate beneficiary of the Alcor Model Trust, which might be 1% of the principle annually, or perhaps a share of the income. Distributions to Alcor from trusts will provide Alcor with financial incentives to be particularly diligent, and will also give Alcor legal standing to go to court if a trust is being mishandled. Of course, persons cryopreserved at Alcor would want to contribute to Alcor’s strength (ability to survive). Furthermore, research money donated to Alcor might hasten the day when the patient is revived. Insofar as Alcor is a charitable 501(c)3 organization, distributions to Alcor are tax deductable.

The Alcor Model Trust would be a revocable trust used in conjunction with a will. This trust is for cryonics revival only, and does not include the kind of tax planning that would be required for those having many millions of dollars in assets. The amount of future estate tax exemptions in the United States is currently highly uncertain. John Dedon advised those having a large taxable estate to get a life insurance policy in an irrevocable trust. The proceeds of a life insurance policy in an irrevocable trust can be outside of the taxable estate.

Ralph Merkle described the trust that he and his wife Carol are developing. Ralph says they are “guinea pigs” for the Alcor Model Trust. Trusts are legal instruments that separate the benefits of property (equitable title) from control of property (legal title), which means that the beneficiary cannot be the trustee, but the settlor can be the trustee. For a revocable trust, the settlor is trustee until the death of the settlor after which time a successor trustee becomes the trustee. Because of their long history of investing with Vanguard they have gotten Vanguard to agree to be successor trustee for their assets. The assets can only be stocks (including private stocks), not real estate or business assets. The trust is in Delaware, Vanguard is in Pennsylvania, and neither state has a rule against perpetuities. It may be that only the situs of the Trust matters, but Ralph feels better that neither state has a rule against perpetuities.

Overwhelmingly, in my opinion, the best presentation at this meeting of the Asset Preservation Group was the one on “Personal Revival Trusts” by Igor Levenberg. I have been working with the thorny problems associated with cryonics reanimation trusts for years and I have never seen such careful and persuasive legal analyses. And I have seem a fair bit of work by some very highly paid trust lawyers.

Igor Levenberg is not himself a cryonicist. He is a law student scheduled to get his J.D. in June 2010. He read THE FIRST IMMORTAL, became interested in the idea of cryonics revival trusts, and would like to work on such trusts as part of his legal practice. The presentation he made at the meeting was a summary of his paper that is being published in the Spring 2010 issue of the journal ST. JOHN’S LAW REVIEW. What follows is my summary of the ideas in Igor’s paper.

A central problem for cryonicists wanting revival trusts is that Cryopreserved Persons (CPs) are legally dead and are not ascertainable beneficiaries under trust law. My solution to this problem has been to have cryonics organizations (rather than the legal system) recognize the reanimated CP as the beneficiary. But finding the right cryonics organization to do this is not always easy.

The courts have recognized cryopreserved embryos as being “intermediate beings”. Igor raised the possibility of persuading courts to recognize CPs as also being “intermediate beings”, but he concedes that courts are unlikely to do this. Even if they did, an “intermediate being” cannot be a beneficiary without a court-appointed guardian.

Another option would be to have CPs treated in the same legal category as unborn, unconceived children. A potential parent could create trusts for his or her children, but if he or she never has children, the trusts become invalid. Such trusts are based on a contingency: the event of the settlor having children. A contingent beneficiary cannot be the sole beneficiary of a trust based on contingency. For example, the settlor could name his or her brother as the other beneficiary. The court would appoint a guardian of the unborn children to protect the interests of the contingent beneficiaries should the brother try to challenge the trust. If the settlor dies childless, the brother could challenge the trust on the grounds that the contingency is impossible.

Analogous to the unborn children, a cryonicist could create a trust that names his or her reanimated self as the contingent beneficiary. A cryonics service organization could be named as the other beneficiary, and another cryonics organization such as the Venturists could act as guardian. Igor told me later that if the trust document requested a specific guardian, a court would likely honor the request. An advantage over treating the CP as a contingent beneficiary rather than an “intermediate being” is that anyone challenging the trust would have to prove that the contingency is impossible — whereas the “intermediate being” trust is dependent upon proving that reanimation is possible. Proving that reanimation of a CP is impossible could be very difficult if expert witnesses could be called who attested to the possibility.

Both the “intermediate being” and the contingent beneficiary approach rely on establishing the CP as an ascertainable beneficiary. But trusts can be created that do not have this requirement. “Trusts for purposes” and trusts based on “conditions subsequent” do not require the CP as an ascertainable beneficiary.

A trust with a “condition subsequent” is a trust that has a beneficiary, but which specifies terms under which the trust is terminated. Those terms could provide for the interests of the reanimated CP. For example, a trust could be established which pays income to a cryonics organization as the beneficiary, and has the “condition subsequent” that the trust terminates and pays the principle to the CP settlor when and if the CP is revived. Such a trust would have to be in a state that has no rule against perpetuities.

“Trusts for purposes” include both charitable and non-charitable trusts. Such trusts have no beneficiary to enforce them. A non-charitable trust for the care of a pet relies on the trustee, and is therefore technically not a trust. Non-charitable trusts are subject to the rule against perpetuities even in states where the rule against perpetuities has been repealed. An exception to this, however, is a non-charitable trust for the care of graves, which are exempt from the law against perpetuities. Insofar as the Cryonics Institute is a licensed cemetery in the state of Michigan, a CI patient could conceivably establish a non-charitable trust to provide for liquid nitrogen, cryostat maintenance, and share of facility upkeep costs with the “condition subsequent” that upon reanimation of the CP the trust would terminate and the trust funds would be dispersed to the revived CP. A trust of this nature could not be for millions of dollars insofar as it is unreasonable to think that maintenance would be so expensive. Nonetheless, accounting for inflation and for maintenance for hundreds of years (or in perpetuity) could allow for a sizable trust.

Charitable trusts are enforced by the Attorney General of the state in which they are established (rather than by a beneficiary), and are never subject to the rule against perpetuities, even in states that do not otherwise allow for perpetuities. For example, a charitable trust could be established which uses income from the trust to finance cryonics research (or cancer research) to which is added the “condition subsequent” that the trust will terminate and the principle go to the revived CP when and if the CP is revived. Although such “piggybacking” of a non-charitable purpose onto a charitable trust is generally not allowed, Igor believes it would survive judicial scrutiny because a challenge could not be brought to court until the condition subsequent arose. The world would be a very different place when that happened.

I gave a demonstration of Nick Pavlica’s RescuTel bed alarm system. I badly wanted the demonstration to go perfectly, but it did not. I needed to connect to a telephone jack, but the connection in the meeting room was being used for those attending by teleconference. There was another jack in Ken’s office, but my 100 foot extension cord would not reach. By the time I got a female-female adapter to have a line that was long enough, I did not have time for adequate testing. At least the EMFIT bed pad worked well — setting off the alarm on the pad’s console when I removed myself to stimulate the stopping of my heart.

After the meeting there was a boat cruise off the Gloucester coast that gave participants a chance to see whales and other sea life. I missed the boat cruise because I had to catch a plane to an astrobiology conference in Texas where I was making a presentation:

Teens & twenties cryonicist event 2010


This past weekend (Friday, January 8, 2010 to Sunday, January 10, 2010) I attended a meeting for cryonicists in their teens & twenties near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The event was funded by Bill Faloon and the Life Extension Foundation. Cairn Idun, creator & coordinator of the Asset Preservation Group, created & coordinated this event as well. Although the Asset Preservation Group was created to devise means of protecting the assets of cryonicists during cryostasis, the group has expanded its concerns to many related issues, including nurturing future generations of cryonics activists to replace the current generation of aging cryonics activists.

The qualification for receiving a scholarship to attend the Teens & Twenties event was applying and being validated as having funding & contracts in place for cryopreservation with any cryonics organization, and being in the 12-30 age range. There were cryonicists from CI, Alcor, ACS, and KrioRus (the latter represented by Danila Medvedev). Some cryonicists were from Canada, Poland, Norway, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Altogether there were 33 cryonicists receiving scholarships, two spouses of those cryonicists who paid their own way plus 13 speakers and Members of the Asset Preservation Group (which includes me) —  for a total of 48 people attending at various times. Among the young cryonicists I believe there were only three teenagers: the two young sons of Bill Faloon, and 19-year-old CI/ACS Member Shannon Blevins,Jr.

By way of introduction, Bill Faloon described his experience of being a 19-year-old cryonicist attending the South Florida cryonics group in the 1970s. Wealthy cryonicists had sponsored him to attend a cryonics training and a life extension meeting in California. He believed that that sponsorship had paid big dividends for cryonics & life extension that he hoped would be comparable to the results of the LEF investment in this teens & twenties group for young cryonicists.

Everyone was then to give brief (under one minute) self-introductions. I won’t give many details, but there was a common theme of growing up with ideas & aspirations that were greatly different from those of friend & relatives. One young man is reputedly the only cryonicist in the state of Alabama. One young woman signed-up at the age of 16 and convinced her father to do so as well. She expressed a sentiment that many resonated with: “even individualists need a sense of community & belonging”. Before the meeting I had been concerned that many of those who had been signed-up for cryonics as young children by their parents would probably not be serious cryonicists. I was impressed by the extent of commitment to cryonics I saw among many of those who had been signed-up virtually from birth.

Although it is stereotypic that cryonicists are single, male computer nerds, 34% of these young cryonicists were female, and quite a few of them were involved with the entertainment industry. During the longer self-introductions Cairn noted five interest areas. The topics were: social networking, promoting cryonics through entertainment, cryonics-related science research, defending & promoting cryonics on the internet, and legal issues associated with cryonics. Cairn had the attendees separate into the five interest areas for discussion, and then we heard presentations from representatives of each group.

The next “getting to know you” exercise involved the participants classifying themselves by personality type as represented by the four colors green, blue, gold, and red:

Green — Conceptual, Curious, Wise, Versatile (intellectual, head rules heart)

Blue — Warm, Communicative, Compassionate, Feeling (seeks harmonious relationships)

Gold — Responsible, Dependable, Helpful, Sensible (dutiful, family-oriented, organization-oriented)

Red — Adventuresome, Skillful, Competitive, Spontaneous (seeks variety and physical involvement)

The participants were given colored sheets that described each personality color in detail as a means of assessing how much of each color composed their personality. Participants were to put various numbers of each color of dots on their name badges corresponding to how much each color is represented in their personality.

I later searched the internet for the basis of this classification system. I found some close matches, but nothing seemed exact:

Because most individuals are a mixture of all colors, we formed groups with others matching our dominant personality color. The largest group by far were the greens, followed by reds. There were only three blues and four golds. I felt that I had so much of all the colors that it was hard for me to choose. I finally decided that I had slightly more green and slightly less gold than the other colors. I joined the green group. Eliezer Yudkowsky regarded himself as so green that he covered his name badge with green dots. Cairn commented that greens generally predominate among cryonicists, and that she was glad to see so many of the other colors because all personality types are required for good teamwork.

On Saturday a presentation by futurist John Lobell was followed by more detailed self-introductions. I tried to tell the story of my life in five minutes. After the detailed self-introductions Catherine Baldwin gave a presentation about Suspended Animation,Inc. and Bill Faloon discussed future projects that young cryonicists should consider to further the advancement of cryonics. Bill was very concerned that there had been no dynamic spokesperson to defend Alcor against the Larry Johnson media blitz in October. Steve Valentine gave a presentation on the Timeship Project, a very expensive storage & research facility planned to store thousands of cryonics patients and transplantable organs at intermediate cryogenic temperatures (about minus 140 degrees Celsius). Although I have thought that the money lavished on this project could be better-spent in other ways, Bill Faloon is enthusiastic that Timeship will convince the world of the seriousness of human cryopreservation in a way that industrial park warehouses cannot.

Sunday morning there was a tour of Suspended Animation, Inc. followed by lunch at the SA facility. The tours were conducted in groups of ten, while the others socialized and watched digitized 40-year-old films (“Ice Men Cometh”) of Curtis Henderson & Saul Kent demonstrating human cryopreservation procedures & equipment during the early pioneering years of cryonics. After lunch there was a final “getting to know you” exercise where most of the participants moved from chair to chair having brief one-to-one conversations with most of the other participants. There were quite a number of people I had not had the chance to speak with earlier, and I found this exercise to be very helpful.

The rest of the afternoon was intended to be available for informal socializing at SA, but with people catching flights and the general restlessness it quickly became fragmented.

Overall I am very enthusiastic with how the weekend went. I made many valuable connections, as did most (if not all) of the others, I believe. It also lifted my spirits, which I also believe was a common experience. Bill Faloon wants to make this an annual event.

In the week after the Teens & Twenties event, I created a Facebook group “Young cryonicists”, and sent invitations to all of the attendee.

Early in the weekend I had asked Cairn to see who among the group did not want to be photographed. To my surprise, only one person did not. I took care not to include her in any of the pictures I took of the event. The following are a few of my photos:

Dinner at the Teens & Twenties event

Line-up for Steve Valentine to autograph Timeship posters

Danila Medvedev wears video/audio glasses that record his life
[Danila calls this Plan C for reconstruction of his personality if Plan A (life extension) and Plan B (cryonics) fail] (The glasses can record 10-12 hours of video with sound before the tape needs replacing. The batteries must be recharged at least every 5 hours.)

Participants watch pioneering cryonics films while others get tours of the Suspended Animation, Inc. facility

Young cryonicists Facebook page

A photo of some Teens & Twenties with Bill Faloon posted on Facebook by Bonnie Magee

A Facebook video of the Curtis Henderson “Ice Men Cometh” films