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Dallas, Texas, United States

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Optihumanist Principles 2022

I am pleased to announce that as of yesterday my son Thomas is engaged to be married.  Next year we might have two weddings in the family as my daughter Ada ties the knot in April.  My congratulations to both for embracing these commitments to their future spouses.

For my annual update to the Optihumanist Principles, I made three changes in two sections:

We adapt to change by adopting processes for change.
We explore and evaluate opportunities for improvement.
We believe in the future.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Eight Billion

Six years ago I wrote a blog entry about humans achieving a population of 7.4 billion. Now we are at eight billion. Congratulations to the parents and welcome to all of the new people!

Back then, the population was expected to level off at less than twelve billion due to declines in fertility. The updated prediction is that we will peak at around 10.4 billion. In graduate school, I had a professor that liked to say that everything in nature is exponential but it appears to me that it is really sigmoidal.

Kurzweil liked to talk about stacked sigmoidal curves. When growth in one technology plateaus, a new technology shifts us up to the beginning of the next sigmoidal. The stacked sigmoidals make up an accelerating curve when seen from a distance.

I think our population growth will be like that.  Once we get some elbow room by colonizing space, both outer and virtual, parents will choose to have more children.  I am hopeful that we can do something to stack the curve before then, maybe something related to housing.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Peacock Tail

Thinking about the irrelevant criteria has helped me understand the classic arguments debating the purpose of the tail of a peacock.  One hypothesis is that peahens are attracted to the peacock with the largest tail because it signals that the peacock is genetically healthy.  The logic of this hypothesis appears to be that since possessing a large tail is an energy and maneuverability burden which can only be borne by the healthy, a larger tail is indicative of superior genetic health and therefore predicts better reproductive success.

While I think there is some truth to this, it does seems odd that a phenotype that is a liability to the survival of a father would be considered genetically advantageous by the mothers of the future sons.  I think there might be a mistake in the logical jump of assuming that the kind of health required for large tails is correlated with an overall health which leads to individual survival in general.  Another potential logical fallacy might be in assuming that the overall health and long-term individual survival of the father are correlated with more descendants for the peahens.

Suppose instead that the peahens are instinctively selecting the peacock with the largest tail because this decision is more likely to result in their future sons having larger tails which will then be more likely to attract future peahens which will then in turn be more likely to lead to both more grandsons and more granddaughters.  Since these peahens are most likely to mate with the peacock with the largest tail, the evolutionary advantage of winner-take-all breeding will rapidly lead to the great-grandsons having even larger tails than their great grandfathers and the great granddaughters being even more attracted to large tails than their great grandmothers.  The peacock tails keep getting larger as generations pass until the tails become so large that their reproductive advantage of attracting mates is balanced by their disadvantage of attracting predators.

At that point you might think that the size of the tails might stabilize.  Consider, however, that an undesirable side-effect of an otherwise beneficial gene might be neutralized by compensatory genes.  As the genes of peacocks to grow larger tails evolve, the genes to survive with larger tails also evolve to compensate.

Suppose that at one time proto-peahens were not attracted to larger peacock tails and that they mated non-preferentially with the males.  Assume that back then proto-peacocks had tails of whatever size was best adapted to their environment on average.  Now imagine that one day a proto-peahen is hatched with a mutant gene that gives her a slight preference to mate with proto-peacocks with larger tails.
You can see how this slight preference could kick off an irreversible runaway process.  Her sons are more likely to have the gene for larger tails because she mates preferentially with the largest-tailed male.  Her daughters are more likely to have the gene for largest tail preference because she passes that gene on to them.
Now wind back the clock on the thought experiment to the initial condition where proto-peahens have no preference.  Imagine this time instead that a mutant proto-peacock instead of a proto-peahen is born with a gene that gives the proto-peacock a slight preference for a larger tail in the opposite sex.  During a breeding season, the proto-peacock might mate initially with the proto-peahen with the largest tail but can then go on to mate with additional proto-peahens.

There is no winner-take-all effect here in that the male, unlike a female, can successfully mate and reproduce with multiple individuals of the opposite sex with both preferred and less preferred tail sizes within a single breeding season.  The mutant male is going to have daughters with both larger and smaller tail sizes in nearly the same proportion.  Even if the mutant father successfully passes on the new gene for a slight preference to the sons, the sons will still mate with both larger and smaller females which means the granddaughters will still have mixed tail sizes.
Even if the mutant gene for a preference makes it into the grandsons and there are now more females with larger tails due to initial preferential mating, any environmental disadvantage to larger tails could make the larger-tailed females less likely to survive to reproductive age or the next breeding cycle.  This means that both the mutant males that prefer larger-tailed females and non-mutant males with no preference will have more smaller-tailed daughters than larger-tailed daughters because there are proportionally more smaller-tailed mothers.  As there is little long-term reproductive advantage to mating preferentially with large-tailed females, the mutant gene to cause a slight preference in the males eventually dies out due to genetic drift.

This might explain why you are more likely to see phenotypic extremes that decrease the survivability of the individual evolve in male but not the female in many species.  An example of this is brightly colored feathers for males and camouflaged colors for females in some bird species.  The evolutionary advantage of fathering the chicks of most of the mothers in a territory outweighs the disadvantage of being more easily spotted or captured by predators.

For species where raising the offspring to maturity requires the full-time attention of both a dedicated mother and a father, it is less of a winner-take-all competition since males are less likely to fertilize multiple females within a breeding season.  In these cases, you might predict that the males of these species are less likely to exhibit phenotypic characteristics preferred by females that have a survival disadvantage for the individual that are not also present in the females of the species.  Examples of characteristics attractive to the opposite sex that are present in both sexes that are also survival disadvantages to the individual parent might include altruistic behaviors such as nurturing offspring or defending the pack.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Irrelevant Criterion

In a winner-take-all competition in which all of the competitors are overqualified, the winner is selected based on an irrelevant criterion.  This criterion is used to decide which competitor is considered to be the most overqualified.  Since the competitors are overqualified on all of the other criteria, the selection criterion has no other purpose.

In my professional career, I have observed this in employment hiring in which multiple candidates are equally overqualified for the position.  Examples of irrelevant criteria used as tie-breakers in these cases include the prestige of the university attended by the candidate, even if the degree is in an unrelated academic field, and the ability of the candidate to respond to esoteric questions during an interview, even if the knowledge demonstrated is unnecessary to perform the job.  I assume that the intent behind these criteria is to use them as a proxy measure of overall intelligence which is then assumed to predict competency.

Thursday, September 29, 2022


Despite devastating hurricanes, I would like to move to the coast someday.  My wife ordered a subscription to Delaware Beach Life magazine for my birthday and we enjoy watching Beachfront Bargain Hunt together even though we know it is fake.  When reviewing my options, I often think about which coastal states have good weather and low taxes

Another criterion that I have started considering is whether the state has legalized euthanasia.  For future cryonauts, having the cryothanasia option increases their probability of survival.  Of the states that have legalized euthanasia, only Oregon has a cryonics facility.

With all of the Libertarians that have moved to the Live Free or Die state, I am surprised that New Hampshire has not already legalized euthanasia.  As you might expect for a blue state, the right to die is protected in its landlocked yinyang sibling Vermont.  I recently joined the Death With Dignity mailing list so that I can track and support progress in each state, especially those with an ocean breeze.

Monday, August 29, 2022


Recently I have been attending a monthly online meeting hosted by Rudi Hoffman called the Cryonics Community Coalition Party.  This should not be confused with something political such as the Transhumanist Party.  The term "Party" here means getting together on a video conference for cryonics-related conversation while wearing silly hats.

While participating in these discussions, I proposed creating a Cryonics Industry Consortium (CrInCo).  By consortium, I mean a non-profit organization formed to promote the growth of the cryonics industry as a whole.  I anticipate that members would be cryonics organizations rather than individuals.

I am also inspired by my recent experience with a self-regulatory organization (SRO).  I think CrInCo could spin off an SRO as a separate organization at some point in the future.  Another goal of CrInCo might be to serve as a clearinghouse for the industry.

Tonight I launched a website to promote the proposal.  I have also created an associated Google Groups discussion group.  I am optimistic that this could take off soon as the list of cryonics organizations is growing.


Sunday, July 31, 2022

Civic Holiday

We need a federal holiday on the first Monday of August.  If you look at the list of federal holidays, there is a gap between Independence Day on the fourth of July and Labor Day on the first Monday of September.  It would be good to have a three-day weekend between them.

On the first Monday of August, Canadians have the Civic Holiday.  This is not a federal holiday but rather a placeholder for municipalities to choose their own regional cause for celebration.  I think that here in the United States of America we could declare it a federal holiday and then let each state decide what to call it to make it their own.

Arizonans celebrate American Family Day on the first Sunday of August by spending time with their families.  Today our family is reinstituting the digital sabbath as a half day to get off of the computer and engage in face-to-face family fun activities.  We used to do this on Saturdays but now we are doing it on Sundays so I have given this updated tradition the moniker "Sunday Family Funday".

I am adding Civic Holiday to the list of Optihumanist Holidays.  If it ever does become an official United States federal holiday, I propose that Optihumanists share the three-day weekend with their families.  American Family Day could then roll right into "Monday Family Funday".


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Cryonics Underground

Yesterday on my daily walk I listened to the latest episode of the Cryonics Underground podcast.  This episode discussing recommended books for cryonicists is also available as a video on the YouTube channel The Cryosphere. I was also pleased to see that they have a Discord channel.

One of the books recommended by a panelist on the podcast is The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil.  This was a neat coincidence because I had just I pre-ordered the sequel The Singularity Is Nearer before I listened to the podcast.  Back when the now defunct Dallas Area Transhumanist Association (DATA) was still meeting, we discussed this book thoroughly and watched many YouTube video presentations by this author.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Press Freedom

On this Memorial Day holiday, my thoughts are on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Ukrainian soldiers are dying in defense of their democracy against the ambitions of an autocrat.  Russian soldiers are dying in defense of a lie that they have come to liberate.

I remember a story about a daughter in Ukraine telling her parents back in Russia that the Russians were shelling Ukrainian civilians. The parents refused to believe it even though their daughter was giving them a first-hand account. The parents preferred to believe the Russian news which was telling them otherwise.

I also remember another story about one of the last independent Russian news organizations being disbanded. When one of the news workers was asked for her opinion about the future of Russia, she replied that Russia might become like North Korea. North Korea ranks dead last on the Press Freedom Index.

I have heard that democracies are less likely to engage in an unjust war than autocracies. I have also written that the first step in conquering a democracy is to destroy its free press. I believe that if Russia still had a free press, the Russian people would not tolerate the invasion.


Friday, April 29, 2022

Pledge Abuse

Recently in Houston, a former student Mari Oliver was awarded $90,000 in compensation for the abuse she received from her high school teacher.  The teacher had punished her for refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  The New York Times article notes that in the past other students who have refused to say the Pledge have been arrested or expelled.

I remember when we fought the introduction of Texas laws mandating morning religious rituals in public schools.  Texas legislators started requiring a moment of silence for morning prayer.  They also added "under God" to the state pledge while making recitation of the revised pledge mandatory as well.

When we argued our cases before the courts, what we heard back was that this was not a coercive abuse of First Amendment rights because it was merely a patriotic exercise.  They stated that children would always have the right to opt out.  We recognized that this argument was a sham but the federal appeals courts decided otherwise.

I remember back when we started at the first rung of climbing our way up the courts, an incredulous judge asked our attorney point-blank if we really expected him to strike down the law.  I do not remember how our attorney responded but sometime later I thought of what could have been the perfect response.  Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a traditional legal phrase which translates from the Latin as "Let justice be done though the heavens fall".


Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Upload 2

Previously I wrote about the science fiction / comedy / romance series Upload on Amazon Prime.  They finally came out with Season 2 which I just now finished binge-watching.  I noticed that they are really exploring the ramifications of what the future could make possible including downloading.

I had been waiting until Season 2 came out to share with you an animated educational video on this topic from the YouTube channel Kurzgesagt -- In a Nutshell.  Their video Can You Upload Your Mind & Live Forever describes the science behind mind uploading including techniques such as brain scanning.  This future medical technology might not be available before you die so consider preserving your brain in the interim using cryonics.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Walter Morris Stischer

My great uncle Walter Morris Stischer passed away recently at the age of ninety-one.  He was the youngest of eight and the only son.  His son David Walter Stischer passed away three years ago.

Walter and my father Joseph Wallace Croft Junior both served in the Vietnam War.  Walter was shot down over Laos and was held as a prisoner of war for nearly five years.  I was told that he was one of the last prisoners of war to be released.

Here are links from the Web that tell parts of his story:

Walter is also mentioned in some books about Vietnam prisoners of war:


Saturday, January 29, 2022

Compassionate Creator

A couple of days ago I watched a Church of Perpetual Life presentation by Lincoln Cannon on the subject of Mormon Transhumanism.  Twenty-plus years ago I read a book about Mormonism because I was interested in their views on physical immortality which I had heard goes beyond other Christian religions.  I also knew that Mormons seek to to raise their ancestors from the dead and to populate new worlds with their descendants.

Toward the end, I asked the speaker Lincoln questions about these topics because I knew that there were parallels here with Religious Transhumanism.  I have always admired Mormonism as a religion and certainly it has had an influence on my interpretation of Optihumanism.  I have previously joked that if I believed in God, I would become a Mormon because it is a religion that was invented right here in America.

Another joke, not my own, is the riddle "What is the difference between a cult and a religion?"  The answer is "Oh, about a hundred years."  In the Southern Baptist church that I was raised in, I was taught that Mormonism is a cult.

The Baptists also taught me that eternal life is a gift which must be accepted.  Possibly based on this, I have some qualms when I hear some Religious Transhumanists speak of bringing back to life those who knew of cryonics but never signed up for it.  It seems like they made a choice not to accept the gift.
Lincoln seemed to suggest that his idea of a Creator was not an entity that created life at the beginning of the world but rather something that was continuously creating throughout time.  This resonated with me as I think of Evolution as a Creator.  It reminded me of the links between Religious Transhumanism and Religious Naturalism.

I think a major difference between Mormon Transhumanism and Optihumanism is the idea of a compassionate Creator.  When considering Nature as the Creator, you could easily come up with arguments that it is either compassionate, cruel, or simply uncaring.  Like the God of Deism, Nature does not intervene in response to prayers.
I think it is prudent for us to both assume and act as though we are part of Nature's Experiment and that there is no entity overseeing and ensuring our eventual success according to a divine plan.  I do think that Nature tends to drive Life toward increasing Complexity through Evolution but that this is no guarantee.  If there is to be a compassionate Creator, it must come about through us.