Products and services (i.e., “goods”) can be divided into two types: those that on net suffer from congestion effects, and those that instead benefit from scale effects. For congestion goods, the more that one person consumes of the good, the harder it gets for others to consume it. For scale goods, in contrast, the more that some consume, the easier it gets for others to consume.
You mention "network" effects when discussing other scale goods, but overlook a simple way in which cryonics, too, may have such effects. A large part of what makes life worth living derives from social interaction with others we know and love. If cryonics was widely adopted, subscribers could expect to be reunited with their family and friends in the far-future. So the more people sign up for cryonics, the more others will want to sign up as well, not just because the costs will fall (as you note), but because the value for each individual will rise.
The problem with that mindset is that most people don't respect people who are nice to them, most of them only respect people who are jerks and who treat them badly.
How many people don't respect Jimmy Carter, but do respect Nixon?
People at the bottom of the social hierarchy expect to be treated badly, and if you treat them nicely, they experience social and cognitive dissonance. They feel that if you are treating them nicely, you must be below them on the social hierarchy because only people below you treat you nicely.
Similarly if someone treats you badly, they must be above you in the social hierarchy.
Why is everyone assuming cryogenic freezing of heads? There are several alternatives - plastination and chemical preservatives of various stripes. They usually only cost in the neighborhood of two thousand, as well. (Long-term cryogenic storage of such a head would be more like 20k. You save a lot on the initial suspension.)
Doesn't that significantly affect one's calculations here?
One thing to remember is that cryonicists are placing their lives in the hands of others. And anytime someone places his life in the hands of others, it's in his interests that the others don't think he's a jerk who doesn't deserve their help. In other words, cryonics increases the incentives to be a nice guy rather than a jerk.
To illustrate, consider how Futurama portrays Richard Nixon as having taken advantage of cryonics. And suppose that in the cryonics lab, before they have figured out how to restore consciousness to the cryonic heads, the lab manager has to cut some of the heads off and let them die completely. He might well remember Richard Nixon's reputation for being an evil bastard, and choose Richard Nixon to be cut off.
And therein lies the point. Nixon was the kind of guy who didn't seem to care that the public viewed him as an ogre. But if he had been signed up for cryonics, he'd have more reason to "be good in order to seem good," as the saying goes. And wouldn't that have been better for the many people who were influenced by Nixon in his own time?
Cryonic suspension currently runs at around 40-80,000 USD. Cryonics looks as though it is going to remain a very expensive option - relative to cremation - or, for that matter tombstones.
Cryonics for AIDS patients seems like an *awful* way to donate. Regardless of whether charitable donations are for altruistic or signalling purposes, people should pick effective charities. Dud charities are a bane on humanity - since they channel resources away from the greater good. This post tries to explain why cryonics is better than some dud charities - but there seems to be no case that cryonics is a worthy cause compared to things of genuine importance. I would encourage people to step back from the cryonics advocacy here - and get things in perspective.
Negative framing is useful for letting arrogant phobes see themselves in a mirror. It is not a substitute for useful argument, but can be an effective counter to useless ones.
Tombstones are a congestion good. Cryonics is a scale good. There is no comparison. On a large scale cryonics is cheaper as a whole than buying everyone tombstones, because it gets progressively cheaper whereas tombstones run out of supply. You're totally barking up the wrong tree if you think killing dead people extra dead is saving money, even if that did make it morally ok in some way, which it doesn't.
Provided the frozen dead are relatively few in number, the resources they lock-up - and their gradual waste - are indeed not a huge deal for the rest of society. The economic costs of such an extravagent tombstone are most concentrated among their loved ones though - sso they may be the ones who care enough to bring up the issue.
Nope. Negative framing is useless.
I like opt-out of bodies being donated for organ harvesting and medical research. It's a hard problem that so few smart, greedy people want cryonic preservation. The easy solution would be default cryonic preservation for some defined elite productive segment of the population. But I don't have a great way to define that (the best shot would be critical military and similar federal govt. personnel, since they are elite performers worth preserving, have some sense of unusual duty/obligation, are are probably already the subjects of a variety of wildly speculative futurist but official contigency plans). Then the scaled facilities could be spun out to the (probably still tiny) interested public, like military GPS and the DARPA internet except I doubt cryonics will ever have mass appeal since it's already relatively cheap and exceptionally well-known about and safe, but still extraordinarily unpopular.
Nobody accuses people who purchase headstones of depriving future generations of resources or not caring about the future. It simply isn't that big of a deal. It isn't enough money to worth bothering about. Why should cryonics be any different?
Cryonics is typically used by rich geeks - who are hoping that the future might still be interested in them.
Not freezing youself - and instead giving your resources to your offspring - is a perfectly sensible economic decision for many. I'm sure future generations will respect the wisdom of those whose who choose that option.
The bulk of the costs that I mentioned stem from keeping it cold and keeping it safe - and headstones are far from the cheapest option - compare with cremation. Cryonics makes *some* people care more about the futuure - those with no relatives, for example. For many others the net effect would be negative - since they would be trading in the welfare of descendants whom they care about for a long shot.
The climate cost of keeping something cold is very minimal, when practiced on a large scale. Amount of surface area per unit volume is reduced as you increase the size of a container.
Also consider that people planning not to die are less motivated to reproduce, so the environmental devastation is reduced considerably.