[ExI] Consequentialist world improvement

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Tue Oct 9 00:32:00 UTC 2012

On 08/10/2012 21:21, Dave Sill wrote:
> On Sat, Oct 6, 2012 at 5:35 PM, Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se 
> <mailto:anders at aleph.se>> wrote:
>     So in terms of deaths, fixing (or even denting) ageing,
>     malnutrition, infectious diseases and lifestyle causes is a far
>     more important activity than winning wars or stopping terrorists.
> Except that if you applied the war budget to anti-aging, nutrition, 
> fighting disease through medication and vaccination, and lifestyle 
> improvement, you'd save far more lives than just the war casualties 
> averted.

Yep. Although there is an interesting issue of how much money a domain 
can handle. Putting a trillion into antiparasitic treatment in tropical 
countries (currently the best value for money, according to Giving What 
We Can) will be far more than those project need or can channel 
effectively: beyond a certain amount they will likely have done all 
treatments needed, and something else would be more cost-effective. The 
US government putting a lot of money into nanotechnology into the 90s 
made the field big, but also caused borderwork that ousted the original 
ideas in favour of less ambitious goals. And of course, too much money 
floating around can encourage waste and corruption.

Figuring out the right amount to spend on different projects is an 
interesting challenge. I seem to recall Aubrey de Grey saying that his 
limit was somewhere around a hundred million, quite likely much lower: 
he is aiming at proof-of-concept work and making the SENS-approach 
credible. Once that is done money will come naturally. For reducing 
xrisks I think the limit is even lower: a few tens of million would be 
enough to keep FHI and similar groups developing a proper theory and 
understanding of what ought to be done (since to be honest, we do not 
have the crucial considerations worked out yet), and once that is done 
the real money might need to come into play for actual fixes - whatever 
they are. Meanwhile energy fixes might already be capable of handling 
big money, although I am a bit concerned about their leakiness.

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Faculty of Philosophy
Oxford University

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