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It means young people alive now count for less than old people alive now. Via John Quiggin:

Much of the debate on the question of whether a pure rate of time preference can be justified is concerned with determining the appropriate way to balance the interests of “current” and “future” generations. The central question, in this framing of the problem, is whether, and to what extent, members of the current generation have the right to allocate resources in their own favour, at the expense of unborn future generations.

The central point of this note is to observe that this way of posing the problem is invalid, because members of different generations are alive at the same time. Any policy that discounts future utility must discriminate not merely against generations yet unborn but against the current younger generation. Assuming that members of any given generation are concerned about their own lifetime utility, rather than myopically concerned with current utility alone, a social allocation rule that incorporates pure time preference gives higher weight to the lifetime utility of earlier born generations than to their later born contemporaries. Assuming a 3% pure rate of time preference, as above, and 25 years between generations, the lifetime welfare of those aged 50 or more is valued twice as highly as the welfare of their children, and four times as highly as the welfare of their grandchildren, all of whom may be alive at the same time. This is obviously inconsistent with any form of utilitarianism in which all those currently alive are valued equally.

Furthermore, by the nature of overlapping generations, there is no point at which a coherent distinction between current and future generations can be drawn. In the absence of some general catastrophe, many children alive today will still be alive in 2100, at which time people already alive will reasonably be able to anticipate the possibility of survival well into the 22nd century.

Here are two beautiful pieces of online art.

The first requires a reasonable computer, an up to date browser and will appeal to fans of the Arcade Fire. I won’t give away any more.

The second uses crowd-sourced frames to recreate a classic video clip. Bravo!

I had some spare thoughts lying around. The quote sources you can find through Google:

“Making yourself happy is not best achieved by having true beliefs, primarily because the contribution of true beliefs to material comfort is a public good that you can free ride on, but the signaling benefits and happiness benefits of convenient falsehoods pay back locally, i.e. you personally benefit from your adoption of convenient falsehoods.”

“I am not an object. I am not a noun. I am an adjective. I am the way matter behaves when it is organized in a John K Clark-ish way. At the present time only one chunk of matter in the universe behaves that way; someday that could change.” – John K Clark

Why should it be legal to scratch a dog behind the ears (as long as it’s free to move away), but illegal to engage in sexual acts with a dog (as long as it’s free to move away). – from Peter Singer

“I was also going to give a graduation speech in Arizona this weekend. But with my accent, I was afraid they would try to deport me.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It’s terrifying to think of the risks I run cooking for myself every night without a license: “A cook is a person that prepares food for consumption. In Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Canada this professions requires government approval (examination after 3 years apprenticeship).”

Why shouldn’t polygamy and polyandry be legal forms of marriage? Are they so inarguably inferior family structures?

Stress seems very bad for your happiness and health, but is largely acceptable and unregulated compared to drugs/gambling/obesity/other vices. What explains the difference?

“Obeying is low status, so how do we convince people to obey?”

“Things not only could be worse, they always were.” – David Brin

“An anonymous math department chairman reports on his own strategy for cutting down on the workload. He believes that one of the most important determinants of a successful career is luck. So each year, he randomly rejects half the applicants without even reading their folders. That way, he eliminates the unlucky ones.”

“I could spend the rest of my life having this conversation. Please try to understand before one of us dies.” – Basil Faulty

“The problem is that no ethical system has ever achieved consensus. Ethical systems are completely unlike mathematics or science. This is a source of concern.” – Daniel Dennett

“After controlling for initial health conditions, we find that happiness extends life expectancy. 10 percent increase in happiness decreases probability of death by four percent, and this effect is more pronounced for men and younger people. Marriage decreases mortality and this effect appears to work through increased happiness.”

“I remember in an Australian Human Rights Law class a girl tried to say that a mother who is studying at university and has a child has a FUNDAMENTAL human right to a car. I dropped my pen.”

Aid Watch – Bill Easterly asks that development aid does some good and calls it out when it doesn’t.

Cheap Talk – Two economics professors musing on how their profession explains their every day experiences.

The Reality Based Community – Policy wonk Mark Kleinman’s insights on crime and drug policy as well as US politics in general.

Accelerating Future – Young futurist Michael Anissimov looks at the latest news on technological developments and the AI community.

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Robert WiblinHi! I am a young Australian man ostensibly interested in the truth and maximising the total number of preferences that are ever satisfied, weighted by their intensity. I also enjoy reading and writing about the topics listed above. If you share my interests, friend me on , , or or subscribe to my RSS feed .

All opinions expressed here are at most mine alone, and have nothing to do with any past, present, future or far future employers.

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