Interview with Alcor member David Croft
David Wallace Croft is an Alcor member in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife Shannon and five children, Ada, Ben, Tom, Abe, and Ted. He is employed as a Java software developer and is a part-time doctoral student. His contact information and his weblog are available at www.CroftPress.com.
1. How did you first learn about cryonics?
I first learned about cryonics from the Extropians. I think I first learned of the Extropians from “Wired” magazine. I really liked what I read in the Extropian Principles so I dug into this subculture online. I was a volunteer Webmaster for the Extropy Institute for a brief period.
2. When did you join Alcor and what motivated you to become a member?
Along with every other techie, I was swept into the Silicon Valley dot com boom during the late 90’s. I worked next to Xerox PARC so I would sometimes wander over to attend their guest lectures including a slideshow on the subject of cryonics presented by Dr. Ralph Merkle. I had a chance to attend local cryonaut dinners and meetings including a meeting at the Shaw-Merkle residence. Actually signing up remained on my to-do list for a few years until I saw an ad on the back of the shirt of insurance agent Mr. Rudi Hoffman at an Extropian conference. I approached him and he helped me make it happen.
3. How does your membership impact your life plans or lifestyle?
My Alcor membership has given me some peace of mind with regard to the terror of impending death. I lost my faith in the supernatural afterlife at an early age and I struggled with the ramifications. Now that I am middle-aged with five children, death is less frightening but I still think about my dwindling days with some despair. My cryonics hope keeps me functional.
I am currently in Dallas but my long-term plan is to find a job in Phoenix, possibly in academia, so that I can establish my retirement residence near Alcor.
4. What do you consider the most challenging aspect(s) of cryonics?
Even amongst my atheist allies, cryonics is considered crazy. When I read Humanist literature, I see a “mortalist” attitude where an acceptance of death is considered the rational alternative to belief in a supernatural afterlife.
5. Have you met any other Alcor members?
I have enjoyed my fellowship with members over the years, most recently at the Alcor conferences. Awhile back, we had a cryonauts dinner here in the Dallas area with Dr. Scott Badger, Chana de Wolf, and Todd Huffman; I note that all four of us are involved in the study of the mind and brain. I had the opportunity to attend one of the annual get-togethers hosted by Max and Natasha More in nearby Austin. I also sample the CryoNet, Society for Universal Immortalism, and Venturists electronic mailing lists.
6. What areas of Alcor’s program would you like to see developed over the next 5-10 years?
I would like to see more Alcor conferences. I would also like to see Alcor establish a second operational center in another location.
7. What kind of lasting contribution would you like to make to cryonics?
I would like to help establish a democratic religion for cryonaut brights. I was inspired by the 1933 “Humanist Manifesto” proposing Humanism as a new religion. I am the Treasurer and a co-founder of the Society for Universal Immortalism (SfUI), formerly known as the Transhumanist Church, which requires cryonics suspension arrangements before becoming a voting member. I have also created a website for my own personal micro-religion which I call “Optihumanism”. In my “Optihumanist Principles”, I have attempted to blend Religious Humanism, Neo-Objectivism, and Immortalism in a concise statement of my beliefs. Less seriously, I also have a webpage for my “Cryobaptist Church” which makes the tongue in cheek assertion that salvation can be achieved by a post-mortem baptism in liquid Nitrogen.
8. What do your friends and family members think about your cryopreservation arrangements?
In general, my friends and family think it is a bit eccentric. I am attempting to plant seeds with my wife and children by introducing them to cryonics fiction.
9. What are your hobbies or special interests?
One of my special interests is church-state separation activism. With the assistance of my Objectivist friend and attorney Dean Cook, my family has legal cases pending challenging the constitutionality of a couple of new laws involving religion in Texas public schools: a mandatory moment of silence and adding “under God” to the state pledge.
I am also a part-time doctoral student in Cognition and Neuroscience at the University of Texas at Dallas. Although my Bachelors is in Electrical Engineering, my two Masters degrees had a focus on neuroscience and neuromorphic systems. As a programmer, I have been hired to work on a number of interesting projects including neural network chip design, intelligent software agents, peer-to-peer frameworks, and multiuser 3D environments. My academic research could be described as pursuing artificial intelligence via a study of spiking neuronal networks.
10. What would you like to say to other members?
Many of my atheist, humanist, objectivist, and immortalist friends do not have children. I recommend that you have them if you can. Children are blessings we give to ourselves.