Re: Value of Long Lives (Was: What is the best place ...)

From: Wei Dai (
Date: Thu Jun 29 2000 - 20:03:49 MDT

On Fri, Jun 23, 2000 at 01:01:35PM -0400, Robin Hanson wrote:
> In principle you could have the utility of a life year increasing
> exponentially while the time discount factor was a decreasing exponential.
> If the growth rate in quality of life was faster than the discount rate,
> the total integral over an infinite future would diverge.

I don't think it's possible to have an infinite utility. Here's a thought
experiment to find out what your maximum utility is:

Suppose a genie told you that he could grant you one wish (which may be
composed of an infinite number of subwishes), but first you would be
tortured for a year, and then the wish only has 1% chance of coming true.
Would you accept? What if the wish has only 0.1% chance of coming true?
Keep lowering the probability until you refuse to accept. Now divide zero
minus the of the utility of being tortured by that probability to get the
maximum utility.

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