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Comment author: PhilipL 16 June 2014 10:22:52PM 3 points [-]
Comment author: jkaufman 23 November 2015 02:02:22PM 1 point [-]
Comment author: banx 08 October 2015 05:07:38AM 11 points [-]

My employer changed their donation matching policy such that I now have an incentive to lump 2 years' donations into a single year, so I can claim the standard deduction during the year that I don't donate, thereby saving around $1200 every 2 years. I've been donating between 10 and 12.5 percent for the last few years. This year I would be donating around 21%. Has anyone here been audited because they claimed a large fraction of their income as charitable contributions? How painful was the experience? I doubt it's worth paying $1200 to avoid, but I thought I'd ask.

Comment author: jkaufman 12 October 2015 02:15:58PM 2 points [-]

Julia and I donate 50% and haven't been audited yet, but I expect we will at some point. We keep good records, which should help a lot.

Comment author: Techmech 12 October 2015 11:41:07AM 5 points [-]

I'm new here. Been lurking occasionally for a few weeks. I have finally signed up. On principle should I avoid voting? (For the time being?)

Comment author: jkaufman 12 October 2015 02:04:59PM 9 points [-]

Feel free to vote!

Comment author: EphemeralNight 23 November 2013 04:18:18PM 3 points [-]

Place your fingers on your pulse and feel your heartbeat. If you're sitting at rest, every beat you feel is accompanied, somewhere in the world, by two or three people running to the end of the time nature allotted and being annihilated forever.

Short term solution is exactly that. People are dying RIGHT NOW. And cryonics is a way to potentially save those lives RIGHT NOW.

The following is merely my own intuition and guess, but... I suspect that the future will look back on this era, see that we had cryonics and CHOSE not to use it, and condemn current funeral practices as systematic murder.

Comment author: jkaufman 28 August 2015 01:28:26PM -1 points [-]

cryonics is a way to potentially save those lives RIGHT NOW.

"potentially" is pulling a lot of weight there. What probability do you give cryonics of working? Roughly?

Comment author: Lumifer 24 August 2015 04:13:18PM *  0 points [-]

Also notice that as formulated ("You are given an initial stake of $1") you don't have any of your own money at risk, so... And if the game only ends when TAILS is flipped, there is no way to lose, is there?

If the first $1 comes from you, you are basically asking about the "double till you win" strategy. You might be interested in reading about the St.Petersburg paradox.

Comment author: jkaufman 24 August 2015 06:11:02PM 3 points [-]

Reading the wikipedia article on the St Petersburg paradox, that's exactly the game tetronian2 has described.

A casino offers a game of chance for a single player in which a fair coin is tossed at each stage. The pot starts at 2 dollars and is doubled every time a head appears. The first time a tail appears, the game ends and the player wins whatever is in the pot. Thus the player wins 2 dollars if a tail appears on the first toss, 4 dollars if a head appears on the first toss and a tail on the second, 8 dollars if a head appears on the first two tosses and a tail on the third, 16 dollars if a head appears on the first three tosses and a tail on the fourth, and so on. In short, the player wins 2k dollars, where k equals number of tosses (k must be a whole number and greater than zero). What would be a fair price to pay the casino for entering the game?

Comment author: tetronian2 24 August 2015 03:26:59PM *  3 points [-]

Suppose someone offers you the chance to play the following game:

You are given an initial stake of $1. A fair coin is flipped. If the result is TAILS, you keep the current stake. If the result is HEADS, the stake doubles and the coin is flipped again, repeating the process.

How much money should you be willing to pay to play this game?

Comment author: jkaufman 24 August 2015 06:02:51PM *  10 points [-]


1 flip --- $1 probability 1/2
2 flips -- $2 probability 1/4
3 flips -- $4 probability 1/8
4 flips -- $8 probability 1/16

The expected value doesn't converge but it grows extremely slowly, where almost all the benefit comes from an extremely tiny chance of extremely large gain. The obvious question is counterparty risk: how much do you trust the person offering the game to actually be able to follow through with what they offered?

If we think of this as a sum over coin flips, each flip you think is possible gives another $0.50 in expected value. So if you think they're probably only good for amounts up to $1M then because it takes 20 flips to pass $1M the expected value is $0.50 * 19 or $9.50. Similarly if you think they're good for $1B then that's 29 flips max for an expected value of $14.50. You could be fancy and try to model your uncertainty about how much they're good for, but that's probably not worth it. And you do want to take into account that someone offering something like this with no provision for how they'll handle extremely large payouts is probably not entirely on the level.

Expected value is also not the right metric here, since we all have diminishing marginal returns. Would you enjoy $1B 1,000x as much as $1M? Even if you're giving your winnings to charity there are still some limits to our ability to effectively use additional donations.

Short answer: $5. (This trusts them to be good for $1024, and is in a range where utility should still be pretty much linear in money.)

Comment author: LessWrong 21 August 2015 03:05:48PM 4 points [-]

I don't see the point of getting married at all, especially when you're royally screwed once you're divorced.

Comment author: jkaufman 22 August 2015 01:55:13AM *  4 points [-]

I'm very happy about being married. It allows us to plan knowing we can count on the other one to be there, and embark on large joint projects like childraising.

Divorce would suck, but we both know that and would try very hard to avoid it. Talking a lot seems important here, prioritizing the relationship, and valuing the other person's happiness as your own. I only have six years of practice though, so I could be wrong.

Comment author: FrameBenignly 07 August 2015 07:56:03PM *  0 points [-]

The original estimate which gwern based his analysis on used a speed of about 60 mph, which is necessary to use when reversing the calculation back into miles. I would agree average speeds are probably lower.

Edit: I just noticed my calculation was wrong. I'm not sure where I got 32850 from. It's more like 60 something thousand. Whoops.

Comment author: jkaufman 09 August 2015 02:18:29PM 0 points [-]

Sorry, I'm not seeing where gwern uses 60mph?

Comment author: gwern 31 July 2015 08:13:22PM *  12 points [-]

I don't believe Nick's introspection here. $1/hour may sound plausible considered as a single choice for 1 hour, but not repeated, as it would be, over a lifetime: if you spend 3 hours a day in a car (which I have for a large period of my life), then he's willing to pay 3 * 365 = $1.1k a year or easily $50k over a lifetime to not wear a helmet? To put this in further perspective, the median American household's income is around that; so by claiming $1/hr, he is implicitly claiming other things like 'if a law were passed mandating wearing a helmet, I and my household would gladly labor like a slave for a year in exchange for an exemption', and so on and so forth. (You can quibble about things like discounting and Nick's probable above-median income and how many hours he actually spends in a car but still - $1/hr is actually quite a bit!)

Further, realistically, habituation and the hedonic treadmill means he would very quickly get used to it as a habit and eventually even come to expect it - like people get used to yarmulkes or old-timey men felt naked without their hats or the deaf/hearing-impaired get so used to their hearing-aids that they forget they are wearing them or how orthodontic patients can survive even the notorious and extremely unpleasant 'head gear'. Or more pertinently, they have already adapted quite nicely to car safety devices far more intrusive, restrictive, and unpleasant than a lightweight helmet: three-point seatbelts.

I am sure Nick really does dislike wearing a helmet to some degree (at least during the adaptation period...), but -$1/hr? No.

Comment author: jkaufman 07 August 2015 07:21:29PM 2 points [-]

if you spend 3 hours a day in a car

That's a lot more than most people do. Conservatively assuming that all travel is via car, the 2014 average on the American Time Use Survey [1] is 1.11hr/day [2]. At $1 = 1hr, that's $1.11/day.

But I do agree habituation is significant here. People probably felt similarly about seatbelts but I don't notice mine.

[1] http://www.bls.gov/tus/tables/a1_2014.pdf

[2] Broken down as, in hours per day: 0.02 for personal care, 0.10 for eating and drinking, 0.04 for household activities, 0.27 for purchasing goods and services, 0.08 for caring for and helping household members, 0.05 for non-household members, 0.27 for work, 0.03 for education, 0.04 for organizational, religious, and civic activities, 0.21 for leisure and sports.

Comment author: FrameBenignly 01 August 2015 06:48:25PM 0 points [-]

$50k a year times 40 years equals $2 million. He's maybe overestimating the price he's willing to pay, but he's also overestimating how much people typically value their lives at. You're also using a really high estimate for number of hours in the car. 3 x 365 x 60 = 32,850 miles per year.

Comment author: jkaufman 07 August 2015 07:09:35PM *  2 points [-]

3 x 365 x 60 = 32,850 miles per year.

Why are you assuming an average speed of 60mph? Most people's commutes have a lot more traffic than that.

Also, 336560 is 65,700 not 32,850.

The average person spends something like 1hr/day in a car, and travels an average of 13476 miles/year which gives us more like 36 mph.

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