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endoself comments on Lotteries: A Waste of Hope - Less Wrong

28 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 13 April 2007 05:36AM

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Comment author: lymen 17 January 2011 07:22:26AM 0 points [-]

Ahh, right. Thanks for that point. I forgot you can't have hidden motivations if they're not conscious.

Also, I've read the third alternative article but I'm not really seeing what you were trying to say by posting it.

My original thought was that when you have a choice between torturing a person for fifty years or letting 3^^^^3 people experience a dust speck in the eye, I'd pick the 3^^^^3 people getting the dust speck.

However, from an outsider's standpoint, would you rather give 3^^^^3 people a penny or one person a billion dollars (you're not included in either party). I for one might decide to give the billion dollars because at least it has some value (I'm not really happy about giving 3^^^^3 people one penny each, even if 3^^^^3 pennies is worth a lot more than a billion dollars).

Comment author: endoself 17 January 2011 10:34:32AM 0 points [-]

The point of the third alternative is that an action is not good because it is preferable to some "default action", but because it is preferable to all possible actions that you can think of. If it is rational for some people to buy lottery tickets, it is because it is the best use of their money, not because it is better than saving. If there is a more efficient way to accomplish the same goals, than rational people would not buy lottery tickets.

I for one might decide to give the billion dollars because at least it has some value (I'm not really happy about giving 3^^^^3 people one penny each, even if 3^^^^3 pennies is worth a lot more than a billion dollars).

What percentage of people would have a major life change because of a single extra penny? A tiny fraction, but multiply that number by 3^^^^3 and you can do vastly more good than by giving one person $1 billion.

I'm not quite sure what you mean in your first sentence. People can and do have hidden motivations that they are not consciously aware of depending on the definition of motivation.