### Three reasons to cooperate

In this post I’ll discuss three reasons to cooperate in a truly one-shot prisoner’s dilemma: Kindness makes common sense, but correlation and reciprocity are often lumped together under “weird acausal stuff.” I think they are worth distinguishing because they work quite differently. I’ll talk about details of correlation and reciprocity, and then argue that most … More Three reasons to cooperate

### Decision theory and dynamic inconsistency

Here is my current take on decision theory: When making a decision after observing X, we should condition (or causally intervene) on statements like “My decision algorithm outputs Y after observing X.” Updating seems like a description of something you do when making good decisions in this way, not part of defining what a good … More Decision theory and dynamic inconsistency

### What is causality to an evidential decision theorist?

(Subsumed by: Timeless Decision Theory, EDT=CDT) People sometimes object to evidential decision theory by saying: “It seems like the distinction between correlation and causation is really important to making good decisions in practice. So how can a theory like EDT, with no role for causality, possibly be right?” Long-time readers probably know my answer, but … More What is causality to an evidential decision theorist?

### EDT with updating double counts

I recently got confused thinking about the following case: Calculator bet: I am offered the opportunity to bet on a mathematical statement X to which I initially assign 50% probability (perhaps X = 139926 is a quadratic residue modulo 314159). I have access to a calculator that is 99% reliable, i.e. it corrupts the answer … More EDT with updating double counts

### Secure homes for digital people

Being a “digital person” could be scary—if I don’t have control over the hardware I’m running on, then someone else could get my code and run tons of copies in horrible conditions. (See also: qntm’s Lena.) It would be great to guarantee digital people some control over their situation: 1. to control their local environment … More Secure homes for digital people

### Improving capital gains taxes

As I’ve mentioned, I think the tax code could be improved. In a departure from my usual style, this post fleshes out some fairness-based arguments for one of my favorite changes. (I think that this proposal, and many of the arguments in favor, is old. Wikipedia quotes Joseph Stieglitz making the basic point in Economics … More Improving capital gains taxes

### Demand offsetting

For the last few years I’ve been avoiding factory farmed eggs because I think they involve a lot of unnecessary suffering. I’m hesitant to be part of that even if it’s not a big deal on utilitarian grounds. This is a pain since factory-farmed eggs are used all over the place (e.g. in ice cream, … More Demand offsetting

### It’s not economically inefficient for a UBI to reduce recipient’s employment

A UBI (e.g. paying every adult American \$8k/year) would reduce recipient’s need for money and so may reduce their incentive to work. This is frequently offered as an argument against a UBI (or as an argument for alternative policies like the EITC that directly incentivize work). This argument is sometimes presented as economically hard-headed realism. … More It’s not economically inefficient for a UBI to reduce recipient’s employment

### Distributed public goods provision

Most people benefit significantly from privately funded public goods (e.g. Wikipedia). If we all contribute to such public goods, then we can all end up better off. But as an individual it’s almost never a good return on investment. I think of supporting such public goods as being a good citizen, but that leaves open … More Distributed public goods provision

### Hedonic asymmetries

Creating really good outcomes for humanity seems hard. We get bored. If we don’t get bored, we still don’t like the idea of joy without variety. And joyful experiences only seems good if they are real and meaningful (in some sense we can’t easily pin down). And so on. On the flip side, creating really … More Hedonic asymmetries