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Roko's Basilisk

Last updated December 25, 2021

A form of arithmetical utilitarianism (see: effective altruism), assuming that one can meaningfully calculate the utility of actions as a numerical value.

You could then “shut up and multiply” utterly negligible probabilities by hypothetical huge outcomes, and take the resulting number seriously — there exists scenarios in which you should torture one person for 50 years if it would prevent dust specks in the eyes of a sufficiently large number of people — resulting in claims like eight lives being saved per dollar donated (a claim made using a calculation of this sort, very popular arguments in EA circles).


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