[ExI] Consequentialist world improvement
anders at aleph.se
Sun Oct 7 11:13:53 UTC 2012
On 07/10/2012 06:48, BillK wrote:
> I don't know your source for the above stats, but one big problem is
> that it is not helpful to use total world stats. Every country has
> different stats. e.g. traffic death and injury rates are far worse in
> India than first world countries. Similar differences for other causes
> of death. And causes of death are consequential. You hint at this when
> you mention weakening people. e.g. war death stats. Ex-soldiers have a
> much higher suicide rate than the general population and many are
> injured as well. So targeting a seemingly less important cause of
> death might well produce improvements further up the chain.
Yup. You can complicate the analysis by analysing the causal chains more
deeply - ageing is behind a lot of apparently unrelated deaths (like
fall accidents), and reducing wars will not just stop direct killing but
later suicide plus free a lot of resources for other good uses.
But the key point is that if you have a certain set of resources you
should try to apply it to have maximal impact. Local tailoring is no
doubt important, but *where* you act can be chosen: it is easier to save
1000 lives in sub-Saharan Africa than in the UK. This again goes against
the grain of how people like to think, since they tend to prefer to help
people similar to them. But if you actually just treat a life saved as a
life saved, then it is smarter to use your resources where the
elasticity is biggest.
> And, of course, as you fix one cause of death, that will be shifted to
> an increase in other causes of death. i.e. all the people that would
> have died in car accidents now die of heart disease instead.
You can think of it as maximizing QUALYs (QUality Adjusted Life Years)
rather than saving lives.
Finding a permanent solution to mortality would be extremely powerful by
this form of accounting. If (say) uploading comes about each individual
will now have a more or less guaranteed QUALY per year forever rather
than just for 80 years. There are deep issues here about discounting
(how much is a QUALY 1000 years into the future worth?) and whether it
matters if it is the current or different people enjoying them (pure
QUALY counting doesn't care).
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Faculty of Philosophy
More information about the extropy-chat