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

Gregory Lewis gjlewis37 at gmail.com
Fri Jun 14 10:45:22 UTC 2013

On 13/06/13 21:38, Adrian Tymes wrote:
> On Jun 13, 2013 6:30 AM, "Gregory Lewis" <gjlewis37 at gmail.com 
> <mailto:gjlewis37 at gmail.com>> wrote:
> > 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.
> So, you believe that just because most people
> believe, based on historical evidence, that
> later years = lesser years, this must inevitably
> be the case for everyone always?
> That is a logical fallacy, and a slightly
> offensive one if you have indeed been lurking
> this list and thus seen the counterexamples
> we come up with.
As I said above, I believe the fact most (myself included) are 
intuitively risk adverse with these gambles is evidence for us putting 
diminishing marginal value in lifespan (although there are other 
possible accounts). I don't see the logical fallacy, just an application 
of something like the equal weight view of disagreement epistemology.

I haven't lurked long, so I might have missed something on the list. But 
I should note the fact we can come up with counter-examples where either 
more life is worth more - or where are intuitions here are mistaken - 
doesn't significantly undercut the principle unless we think some 
collection of counter-example circusmtances is probably the case.

> > 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.
> Ha!  You assume we even KNOW all the things
> we'll want to do early on.  This is laughably
> absurd for all but the smallest, most limited
> lives.  I, for one, don't know what project I
> may work on 5 to 10 years from now, as is
> the case for nearly all adults that I know.
> (Children get a pass only because grade
> school & college is a well established pattern,
> but even they can't predict their
> extracirriculars that far in advance.)
Most of us make choices about how to spend our lives, and so implicitly 
judge what we'd find most valuable. (E.g. I'm currently training to be a 
doctor, but I would also have liked to have been a philosopher, a 
scientist, or a writer). Although our estimates are error prone, I think 
they're better than chance. If so, if spent my 'next few livespans' on 
life-extension doing some philosophy, science and writing, this would 
generally accrue less value per unit time than medicine. Mutatis 
Mutandis relationships, hobbies, and however else we spend our time.

> Of course, not all of them could exist at once,
> and there's the flaw in caring about those who
> might have existed: for any one person to exist,
> a (practically) infinite number of alternates can
> not.  The only way to be at all fair is to deny
> any of them the chance to exist - emulating
> several current Republican arguments in
> Congress, with similarly unproductive results.
I don't think that is true. Imagine a parliament of souls which have a 
(small) chance to be embodied in a life on earth. Grant (arguendo) the 
choice is to divide lifespan into N 800 year 'lifespan tickets', versus 
10N 80 year 'lifespan tickets'. I think our parliament, if behind a veil 
of ignorance about whether they'd 'win' or not on either lottery, would 
prefer the second distribution, as they have a much better chance of 
existing at all. That said, if you don't trust your decision function at 
very low probabilities, you might do something else (see Carl Shulman 

(Aside: there are some theoretical reasons to disprefer 'not caring 
about people who could exist or not' from the population ethics 
literature. Most importantly, if you only care about people who do 
exist, you can get caught in various intransitivities when offered 
choices between worlds with differing 'overlaps' of people who could 
exist in each.)

> > 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.
> And if enough do that another person-year
> for any person results, on average, in more
> than a person-year's worth of capacity
> added?  (Which is arguably analogous to
> what's happened on Earth over the past
> century or two.)
If so, then great! However, I'm doubtful that will be generally true, 
even if granting rejuvenation and superintelligence. I'm also unsure the 
19-20th C earth has this property - and if it did, I don't think it will 
carry into the immediate future: although lifeexp rose in step with 
general person-year capacity, this gain has been predominantly in the 
period where people are sick and economically unproductive (at least in 
the developed world).

> > if 10x life extension is widespread, then a lot of people who would 
> exist will not.
> And many who would not have existed,
> will.  Quite possibly many, many more.

Possibly. But it requires a lot of externalities to line up in the right 
way to get to the happy conclusion that life extension gets both 
*longer* and *more* lives. Given some upper bound (on lifespan, 
negentropy, whatever) which doesn't happily rise in step with 
life-extension tech, ultimately others taking more mean there is less 
for the rest, and if we all occupy our 'person-slot' in the universe for 
10x longer, there will be about 10x fewer people over history.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/attachments/20130614/dfbd7e79/attachment.html>

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list