RE: Cryonics sources

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Mon Jun 19 2000 - 13:42:44 MDT

At 01:31 PM 6/19/2000 -0500, you wrote:
>... Robin, attempting to place a present value for
>future life via the calculation you used doesn't provide very much useful
>information due to the high degree of uncertainty. For example, a small
>change in the discount rate assumed can cause a relatively large change in
>the present value. The major problem I see, however, is that no one knows
>the probability of cryonics success.

Most of the decisions we make are under large amounts of uncertainty.
Consider buying houses, going to school, getting married, etc.
But that is no excuse for not doing the best analysis we can with the
information we have. Consider what would happen to the investor who
said "all estimates of costs and market demand for products are subject
to lots of uncertainty, so I'm just going to ignore those issues and
invest in the projects that look cool to me."

I was accepting wide variation in success probability estimates, and
calculating a cutoff a person could compare with their personal estimate.
Yes there is uncertainty in discount rates, but perhaps not as much as
you think. For example, there are good evolutionary arguments for
expecting people to discount the future at a factor of two per generation.

Robin Hanson
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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