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orthonormal 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: Desrtopa 17 January 2011 08:40:40PM *  2 points [-]

I suppose I incorporated that assumption without really thinking about it. Now that you mention it, that would be a pretty odd situation.

Depending where on the the curve the slope levels off, it might still result in greater utility to give one person a lot of money than to distribute the same amount of money in one cent units to very many people, but if you assume that a majority of the people are already middle class, that's probably not the case.

Comment author: orthonormal 17 January 2011 10:13:26PM 1 point [-]

I think the confusion here is more of a sorites paradox than anything about expected utility. You can't imagine a single extra penny changing anyone's outcome, but you can imagine it for a hundred extra pennies.

I think that's a mistaken intuition; for instance, you could be about to buy something small, realize you're a few cents short, and either cancel the transaction or use the "Take a Penny" jar; but the probabilities of doing either will actually change (for social reasons) depending on whether you're, say, 3, 4 or 5 cents short of the total.

It's rather like the way that being one more second late out the door can either get you to the office at the exact same time, or twenty minutes later, depending on the bus schedule.

Comment author: Desrtopa 17 January 2011 10:24:50PM 0 points [-]

Utility clearly isn't linear with money, but I think you're probably right that that intuition had something to do with my drawing the conclusion I did.