Why make it an ethical problem?  What if you estimate is A you have 60% chance of surviving and B your have 40% chance of surviving.


On 12/22/2018 9:48 PM, Mason Green wrote:
So I thought of an interesting problem in decision theory and/or ethics. Maybe 
someone’s thought along these lines before, but if so I haven’t encountered it.

Suppose you have to make a decision between two options, A and B. Your credence 
that option A is the more ethical one is 60%, and your credence that option B 
is the more ethical one is 40%.

Is it more ethical to....

1. Automatically pick A because it has the higher credence.
2. Pick randomly between A and B with the probability of each one matching your 
credence. For example, generate a random number between 0 and 1 and pick B iff 
your number is over 0.6.

If one subscribed to the MWI, the second option could even be phrased as “make 
sure 60% of your future selves pick A and 40% pick B”.

The second option could be called the diverse-futures ethic, since it would 
lead to a more varied future if everyone consistently followed it, while option 
A could be called the winner-take-all ethic.

One interesting fact is that it’s less costly (in terms of entropy and energy) 
for an agent to follow the diverse-futures ethic. This is because noise can be 
recycled from the environment to use to make the decision. However the 
difference in cost is very small (less than 1 bit of entropy in the above case, 
or less than kT ln 2 of energy). Maybe that should factor into the relative 
ethical merit of the two strategies, if only a tiny bit.

The human brain seems to follow the diverse-futures ethic since it calculates 
probabilistically, using ambient noise to its advantage.


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