Just to clarify, as a thought experiment, suppose you had $10 billion to invest over the course of 10 years. If you put it all towards a given goal, which one do you think would have the highest probability of being accomplished:
- Significant extension of human life through regenerative medicine / SENS.
- Clinically reversible cryopreservation of a human being.
To expand upon this, we could do a graph of solution-probability estimates for $10bn/10yr through $50bn/50yr. Another useful set of data points would be which approach benefits most from more money being sunk into it. This kind of data would tell us which one to raise the most funds for, and we could tune it to however much money we think we can raise.
How to collect data for such a graph? Perhaps we could survey scientists. For now, we can do simple crude thought experiments based on the available data.
There are also marketing questions. Can people be persuaded to use technology A more easily than technology B? How much added investment in advertising does it take to get them to use cryonics to extend their lives versus regenerative medicine? Is the required marketing to get them to all use today's cryonics less costly than the research to get to the reanimated human stage? Would it be less costly to get to the reanimated mouse stage and then market cryonics?
This all deserves detailed analysis, which I have not seen anywhere. The fact that 100,000 people die every day can be approached rationally and quantitatively, but it seems there is little interest in doing so. With all due respect to Ben, his approach seems to be to damn those who reject cryonics over this to their fate... That just doesn't sit right with me. Humans are malleable, with proper advertising they will do more or less anything you tell them. The question is strictly one of how expensive the battle is.
Perhaps there are strong intuitions that advertising cryonics will result in everyone converting cheaply even with no additional breakthroughs, but I don't think this is the case -- I think most people see this as an expensive marketing project indeed, because cryonics is seen as faith-based. Rather it seems like converting people would be significantly cheaper if the technology to reanimate them exists, particularly if they are in pain and this offers an inexpensive non-death way out of it.
I also have concerns that regenerative approaches will be more expensive to convert people over to than reversible cryonics. The first few tries could have nasty side effects, and clinical trials to do it right / make sure it was done right seem like they would take a long time. Reversible cryonics would be tested right away and the bugs worked out quickly -- the same tech that works well for 1 year works for 100 years. Scientists in particular would trust and recommend this more, IMHO.