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Adam_Safron comments on Circular Altruism - Less Wrong

40 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 22 January 2008 06:00PM

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Comment author: Adam_Safron 22 January 2008 09:37:56PM 9 points [-]

Eliezer, as I'm sure you know, not everything can be put on a linear scale. Momentary eye irritation is not the same thing as torture. Momentary eye irritations should be negligible in the moral calculus, even when multiplied by googleplex^^^googleplex. 50 years of torture could break someone's mind and lead to their destruction. You're usually right on the mark, but not this time.

Comment author: phob 04 January 2011 05:53:47PM 9 points [-]

Would you pay one cent to prevent one googleplex of people from having a momentary eye irration?

Torture can be put on a money scale as well: many many countries use torture in war, but we don't spend huge amounts of money publicizing and shaming these people (which would reduce the amount of torture in the world).

In order to maximize the benefit of spending money, you must weigh sacred against unsacred.

Comment author: jeremysalwen 12 October 2012 01:29:30AM 2 points [-]

I certainly wouldn't pay that cent if there was an option of preventing 50 years of torture using that cent. There's nothing to say that my utility function can't take values in the surreals.

Comment author: AndyC 22 April 2014 11:52:29AM 2 points [-]

There's an interesting paper on microtransactions and how human rationality can't really handle decisions about values under a certain amount. The cognitive effort of making a decision outweighs the possible benefits of making the decision.

How much time would you spend making a decision about how to spend a penny? You can't make a decision in zero time, it's not physically possible. Rationally you have to round off the penny, and the spec of dust.