[ExI] [ZS] [cryo] Nick Bostrom, Anders Sandberg, Stuart Armstrong to be frozen after death

Gregory Lewis gjlewis37 at gmail.com
Thu Jun 13 10:43:41 UTC 2013

On 13/06/13 01:17, Adrian Tymes wrote:
> On Jun 12, 2013 5:04 PM, "Gregory Lewis" <gjlewis37 at gmail.com 
> <mailto:gjlewis37 at gmail.com>> wrote:
> > 1. Given we time discount, and possible 'low hanging fruit' 
> concerns, lifespan may have decreasing marginal value.
> You're going to have to explain that premise, as
> it is not obvious.
Sure. When given certain lifespan gambles (would you rather P=1 of 40 
years or P=0.5 of 80 years and P=0.5 of death right now?) we tend to be 
risk averse. There are a variety of debunking explanations one can offer 
(scope insensitivity, status quo bias, the intuitions seem a bit 
unstable if we change the magnitude of the gambles), but at least one 
account of our apparent time discounting is that life has decreasing 
marginal value, so twice as much is not quite twice as good.

Another reason for decreasing marginal value (at least locally) would be 
that, if we're rational, we'll prioritize the most valuable things to do 
with our lives first, so we tend to do less valuable projects later on. 
So there's diminishing marginal value as it becomes harder work to 
realize value as we live longer.

> > 2. If you're a prioritarian (hold that a given increment of value is 
> better given to someone with less value than someone with more, all 
> else equal; or that the welfare to value function is concave), then 
> you might prefer many shorter lives over one long one even at the 
> expense of some total value. It might be generally fairer/better to 
> package lifespan in many small packets than one large one, so fewer 
> potential people 'miss out' on the goods of having existed at all.
> There are an infinite number of those who might
> have existed.  Further, people can help make the
> world better: existence is not zero-sum, or even
> readily convertible between different people.
> If one's continued existence leads, however
> incrementally, toward a world in which birth
> rates may be higher (including "birth" of AIs),
> wouldn't your argument suggest one should
> attempt to live as long as possible?
I don't think there are infinite possible future people (although it 
will be very large). Also, the relevant decision cases we have to make 
will be between finite numbers of counter factual people (e.g. if I opt 
to extend my life 10x over, there will be 9 people squeezed out of the 
earths carrying capacity who would have existed - veil of ignorance 
concerns etc. would therefore favour me not extending my life, and those 
8 people having a short go too).

I agree there are various externalities which are not accounted for: 
although carrying capacity across universe's future has an upper bound, 
maybe some lives, if extended, will increase this bound by an amount 
greater than their life extension 'takes away', making it a good deal 
even for prioritarians. But one could note empirical concerns going the 
other way (maybe cycling through more people increases the chances of 
getting the requisite number of geniuses needed for a safe posthuman 
future, etc. etc.) It is also false to imply that we have a fully 
fungible blob of lifespan to distribute between people wholly 
elastically. But it seems this granularity becomes less of a big deal 
when lots of people are extending their lives: if 10x life extension is 
widespread, then a lot of people who would exist will not.
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