My End-of-the-World Bet with Eliezer Yudkowsky
By Bryan Caplan
Famed futurist Eliezer Yudkowsky fears the imminent end of the world at the hands of Unfriendly Artificial Intelligence. I find this worry fanciful. Many people in Eliezer’s position would just dismiss my head-in-the-sandedness, but he’s also genuinely impressed with my perfect public betting record. To bridge the gap and advance our knowledge, we’ve agreed to the following bet, written in the first person by Eliezier. Since I’ve just Paypaled him the money, the bet is now officially on.
– Bryan Caplan pays Eliezer $100 now, in exchange for $200
CPI-adjusted from Eliezer if the world has not been ended by nonaligned AI
before 12:00am GMT on January 1st, 2030.
– $100 USD is due to Eliezer Yudkowsky before February 1st, 2017 for the bet to
– In the event the CPI is retired or modified or it’s gone
totally bogus under the Trump administration, we’ll use a mutually agreeable
inflation index or toss it to a mutually agreeable third party; the general
notion is that you should be paid back twice what you bet now without anything
making that amount ludicrously small or large.
– If there are still biological humans running around on the
surface of the Earth, it will not have been said to be ended.
– Any circumstance under which the vast bulk of humanity’s
cosmic resource endowment is being diverted to events of little humane value
due to AGI not under human control, and in which there are no longer biological
humans running around on the surface of the Earth, shall be considered to count
as the world being ended by nonaligned AGI.
– If there is any ambiguity over whether the world has been
ended by nonaligned AGI, considerations relating to the disposition of the bulk
of humanity’s potential astronomical resource endowment shall dominate a
mutually agreeable third-party judgment, since the cosmic endowment is what I
actually care about and its diversion is what I am attempting to avert using your
bet-winning skills. Regardless, if there are still non-uploaded humans
running around the Earth’s surface, you shall be said to have unambiguously won
the bet (I think this is what you predict and care about).
– You win the bet if the world has been ended under AGI under
specific human control by some human who specifically wanted to end it in a
specific way and successfully did so. You do not win if somebody who
thought it was a great idea just built an AGI and turned it loose (this will
not be deemed ‘aligned’, and would not surprise me).
– If it sure looks like we’re all still running around on
the surface of the Earth and nothing AGI-ish is definitely known to have
happened, the world shall be deemed non-ended for bet settlement purposes,
irrespective of simulation arguments or the possibility of an AGI deceiving us
in this regard.
– The bet is payable to whomsoever has the most credible
claim to being your heirs and assigns in the event that anything unfortunate
should happen to you. Whomsoever has primary claim to being my own heir
shall inherit this responsibility from me if they have inherited more than $200
of value from me.
– Your announcement of the bet shall mention that Eliezer
strongly prefers that the world not be destroyed and is trying to exploit
Bryan’s amazing bet-winning abilities to this end. Aside from that, these
details do not need to be publicly recounted in any particular regard, and just
form part of the semiformal understanding between us (they may of course be recounted
any time either of us wishes).
Notice: The bet is structured so that Eliezer still gets a marginal benefit ($100 now) even if he’s right about the end of the world. I, similarly, get a somewhat larger marginal benefit ($200 inflation-adjusted in 2030) if he’s wrong. In my mind, this is primarily a bet that annualized real interest rates stay below 5.5%. After all, at 5.5%, I could turn $100 today in $200 inflation-adjusted without betting. I think it’s highly unlikely real rates will get that high, though I still think that’s vastly more likely than Eliezer’s doomsday scenario.
I would have been happy to bet Eliezer at the same odds for all-cause end-of-the-world. After all, if the world ends, I won’t be able to collect my winnings no matter what caused it. But a bet’s a bet!