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Yosarian2 comments on The Doomsday argument in anthropic decision theory - Less Wrong Discussion

5 Post author: Stuart_Armstrong 31 August 2017 01:44PM

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Comment author: Yosarian2 05 September 2017 01:23:15AM 0 points [-]

I don't believe that my vote will change a result of a presidential election, but I have to behave as if it will, and go to vote.

The way I think of this is something like this:

There is something like a 1 in 10 million chance that my vote will affect the presidential election (and also some chance of my voting affecting other important elections, like Congress, Governor, ect).

Each year, the federal government spends $3.9 trillion dollars. It's influence is probably actually significantly greater then that, since that doesn't include the effect of laws and regulations and such, but let's go with that number for the sake of argument.

If you assume that both parties are generally well-intended and will mostly use most of that money in ways that create positive utility in one way or another, but you think that party A will do 10% more effectively then party B, that's a difference in utility of $390 billion dollars.

So a 1 in 10 million chance of having a 390 billion dollar effect divides into something like an expected utility of $39,000 for something that will take you maybe half an hour. (Plus, since federal elections are only every 2 years, it's actually double that.)

I could be off by an order of magnitude with any of these estimates, maybe you have a 1 in 100 million chance of making a difference, or maybe one party is only 1% better the the other, but it seems from a utilitarian point of view like it's obviously worth doing even so.

The same logic can probably be used for these kind of existential risks as well.

Comment author: turchin 05 September 2017 01:34:45PM 1 point [-]

Yes, but there are situation when the race is not tight, like 40 to 60, and it is very improbable that my vote will work alone, but if we assume that something like ADT works, all people similar to me will behave as if I command them and total utility will be millions time more - as my vote will turn in million votes of people similar to me.

Comment author: Yosarian2 05 September 2017 10:47:39PM 1 point [-]

Yeah, that's a fair point.