Re: Value of Long Lives

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Fri Jun 30 2000 - 08:38:42 MDT

Wei Dai wrote:
>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.

Yes, this is a better response than the one I gave on the topic.

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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