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Hypotheticals

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

1. 

 

The world's best neurological researchers have developed a microscopic device that, if implanted in your brain, will bestow you with superhuman cognition. (Think: the effects of the pill in "Limitless," only without the downside). The catch is that, every day for the rest of your life, the device has a .0001% (1/10000) chance of malfunctioning. If it malfunctions, it will poison and kill a large portion of your brain, rendering you functionally and irreversibly retarded.

 

Would you volunteer to receive the device, assuming you will receive the only one in existence, and assuming that it cannot be removed once implanted? Why, or why not?

 

2.

 

A genie offers you a bargain. For five years of your life, you will become the richest and most famous rockstar on the planet. Your life will be epic beyond your wildest imagination. Immediately upon the conclusion of that five-year period, you will suffer a humiliating public disgrace, lose your fame and fortune, and forever be a cautionary tale, and your name a household curse word. Do you accept the deal?

 

3.

 

You meet the girl of your dreams. She is ridiculously beautiful, brilliant, successful, witty, charming, sexy, and so forth. You will never meet another woman who comes remotely close to matching her in any of these qualities and more. Unfortunately, she has a sexual predilection for her own feces. She insists that the only way she can have sex is if she craps in the bed and lets it sit there while you fuck. You can clean it (and each other) up before or after the sex, but she shits the bed every time before the sex begins. Is this a dealbreaker?

 

post #2 of 24
1. sounds like a really bad deal if you are under 70. Maybe my understanding of probability is wrong, but wouldn't that means that the odds are, your machine would fail within the next 27 years? You'd spend the rest of your life waiting for the other shoe to drop.

as for 2, how much money and do I get to keep it?
post #3 of 24
1 - I'd do it, there is no garuntee you'll make it tomorrow but for the opportunity to be limitless...

2 - kinda sucks that you'd be broke AND disgraced after 4 years and not just one or the other if it was a choice between 1 and 2 I'd choose 1, if there was no choice i'd do it

3 - makes me think the thread is a troll to find out who is into scat lol8[1].gif
post #4 of 24
no to all of them.
post #5 of 24

1. Yes. Superhuman cognition by definition [perhaps] would stipulate that I'd be smart enough to come up with a solution to the malfunction.

2. No. Especially if the disgrace has to do with video-taping myself fisting barnyard animals for syndication in an international snuff movie ring. Similarly, there is no indication in this hypothetical situation that I couldn't become the most famous rock star on the planet and experience the same magnitude of enjoyment simply by chance or working on my craft. 
3. Ignoring the fact that I've already met the girl of my dreams, inlove.gif yes. Sex fetishism is the result of steady and consistent establishment of chemical and neural pathways that dictate to us our sexual behaviors, to an extent our preferences and so forth. For example: If I love fist-nooky with barnyard animals, there must be a reason my brain has learned to associate knucklefucking goats to sexual gratification. Although difficult, it's possible that some degree of therapy may help in reassigning those scatty neural constituents to less disgusting things. It's like sending a sex addict to be rehabilitated -- it is possible, and I know former sex addicts -- but it's hard. However, if this chick is rad enough, then why not take chance?

If in the end, she doesn't stop liking poop, then fuck that. There is not a chance in hell I would stay with her. 

post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by munchausen View Post

1. sounds like a really bad deal if you are under 70. Maybe my understanding of probability is wrong, but wouldn't that means that the odds are, your machine would fail within the next 27 years? You'd spend the rest of your life waiting for the other shoe to drop.

as for 2, how much money and do I get to keep it?

Your probability analysis is correct in scenario 1. And no, you don't keep the money in scenario 2. (Assume, similarly, that there is no workaround to Scenario 1; you cannot develop an improvement or fix for the device's failure rate).

Philosophically, 1 and 2 are variations on the same quandary, namely, what is the meaning of life? Is it to experience tremendous highs, no matter the cost? Is it the journey, and if so, how much of the wonderful experience of that journey is still meaningful once it's over?

Scenario 3 is really a question about weighing the values, in extremis, of attraction and repulsion in a partner. What amount of bad is sufficient to outweigh an enormous amount of good, and vice versa? Could you grow to live with a horrendous bad in exchange for tremendous good?
post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
Personally speaking:

1) Yes. Essentially, I am being given roughly 27 years to become a foundational agent in humanity's progress, culture, development, and future. After which I must pay the ultimate price. To me, the tradeoff is no different than the tradeoff between life and death. Sooner or later, all of us exit the stage. Might as well maximize my impact while I'm on it.

2) No. The timespan is too short here. I would not maximize my personal fame and fortune just for the brief experience of it. I value the path to accomplishment more than the spoils thereof.

3) Yes. I think I could learn to live with the bed-shitting.
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackie Treehorn View Post

Personally speaking:
1) Yes. Essentially, I am being given roughly 27 years to become a foundational agent in humanity's progress, culture, development, and future. After which I must pay the ultimate price. To me, the tradeoff is no different than the tradeoff between life and death. Sooner or later, all of us exit the stage. Might as well maximize my impact while I'm on it.
...

I'm not saying there's not a good reason out there for making this decision, but you're not choosing based on sound math. You're not being given 27 years; you're being given an opportunity that carries with it a 1/10,000 risk of catastrophic failure. The likelihood of the device failing is no different in 27, or 50, or 500 years than it is in the moment after it's implanted.
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrG View Post

I'm not saying there's not a good reason out there for making this decision, but you're not choosing based on sound math. You're not being given 27 years; you're being given an opportunity that carries with it a 1/10,000 risk of catastrophic failure. The likelihood of the device failing is no different in 27, or 50, or 500 years than it is in the moment after it's implanted.

I realize that the odds of it happening in any one day is constant, but don't the odds of it happening at all increase given a longer timeline? In other words, the odds of it happening today are always 1/10k, but in 10,000 days, the odds are very strong that it will happen at least once. I haven't taken any probability or stats since freshman year of college, so I won't be shocked if my understanding is completely broken.
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackie Treehorn View Post

Personally speaking:
1) Yes. Essentially, I am being given roughly 27 years to become a foundational agent in humanity's progress, culture, development, and future. After which I must pay the ultimate price. To me, the tradeoff is no different than the tradeoff between life and death. Sooner or later, all of us exit the stage. Might as well maximize my impact while I'm on it.
2) No. The timespan is too short here. I would not maximize my personal fame and fortune just for the brief experience of it. I value the path to accomplishment more than the spoils thereof.
3) Yes. I think I could learn to live with the bed-shitting.

but you could die the first day
post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrG View Post


I'm not saying there's not a good reason out there for making this decision, but you're not choosing based on sound math. You're not being given 27 years; you're being given an opportunity that carries with it a 1/10,000 risk of catastrophic failure. The likelihood of the device failing is no different in 27, or 50, or 500 years than it is in the moment after it's implanted.

 

The first part of your statement is accurate, but the second part isn't. Probability is distributed over n days, such that the probability of no failure within n days is given by the equation P = (1 - .0001)^n, or .9999^n.

 

Over a 100 day period, P of no-failure = (.9999)^100 = .990049339.

Over a 5,000 day period, P = .606515496.

Over a 10,000 day period, P = .36786, meaning that the odds the device will not have failed within 10,000 days are roughly 37%, so the odds of at least one failure in 10,000 days are 1-.37, or 63%. It's more likely than not that the device will have failed within that period.

 

While it's technically incorrect to say that there will be a failure within 10,000 days (a little over 27 years), it's 63% likely that a failure will occur within such a timeframe. The longer the period of time, the more probable that a failure will occur within that period. (The odds of at least one failure hit 86% within 20,000 days, and so on).

post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by munchausen View Post

I realize that the odds of it happening in any one day is constant, but don't the odds of it happening at all increase given a longer timeline? In other words, the odds of it happening today are always 1/10k, but in 10,000 days, the odds are very strong that it will happen at least once. I haven't taken any probability or stats since freshman year of college, so I won't be shocked if my understanding is completely broken.

Yes, the likelihood of it occuring once increases, but the probability of it happening on any given day never changes. That is, over time the probability that the event will happen once approaches 1, but the probability of it happening on day X remains constant (i.e. the device never becomes "due" for failure).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackie Treehorn View Post



The first part of your statement is accurate, but the second part isn't. Probability is distributed over n days, such that the probability of no failure within n days is given by the equation P = (1 - .0001)^n, or .9999^n.

Over a 100 day period, P of no-failure = (.9999)^100 = .990049339.
Over a 5,000 day period, P = .606515496.
Over a 10,000 day period, P = .36786, meaning that the odds the device will not have failed within 10,000 days are roughly 37%, so the odds of at least one failure in 10,000 days are 1-.37, or 63%. It's more likely than not that the device will have failed within that period.

While it's technically incorrect to say that there will be a failure within 10,000 days (a little over 27 years), it's 63% likely that a failure will occur within such a timeframe. The longer the period of time, the more probable that a failure will occur within that period.

No, my statement is correct in its entirety, but that's because I was talking about the probability of it happening on a given day, not the probability of it ever happening. See my response to munchausen for clarification.

The point I was trying to make is the statement that you're "being given roughly 27 years" is incorrect, because there's nothing that makes it more likely you'll get 27 years than it is that you'll get 30 seconds.
post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrG View Post


Yes, the likelihood of it occuring once increases, but the probability of it happening on any given day never changes. That is, over time the probability that the event will happen once approaches 1, but the probability of it happening on day X remains constant (i.e. the device never becomes "due" for failure).
No, my statement is correct in its entirety, but that's because I was talking about the probability of it happening on a given day, not the probability of it ever happening. See my response to munchausen for clarification.
The point I was trying to make is the statement that you're "being given roughly 27 years" is incorrect, because there's nothing that makes it more likely you'll get 27 years than it is that you'll get 30 seconds.

 

I don't think anyone was ever making the claim that the specific probability changes on Day 10,000. If you got that impression, than I'll accept that I worded my original post clumsily. But that wasn't the intent of my original statement, and I don't believe (?) it was Munchausen's.

 

The "you have 27 years" is technically incorrect, and I'll concede that much. When I saw the post earlier this morning, I was pretty tired and not-yet-caffeinated, and I sort of went with it without crunching the numbers.

 

EDIT: I also noticed I made a typo in the OP on this thread, when I said ".0001% (1/10000)." That's a fuckup on my part. I didn't mean to say .0001%, but actually, .0001, which is .01%. It seems nobody (myself included) noticed the typo, and thus, it didn't really change the nature of the discussion.


Edited by Jackie Treehorn - 4/22/12 at 12:07pm
post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 

All of the stats debate aside, what are your answers to the quandaries? ^_^

post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 

Moar:

 

4.

 

You are offered $1 billion, tax-free, with no strings attached. In order to earn the money, you must select an innocent, 4-year-old child from a local daycare, and beat the child to death with a wrench. You will not be prosecuted for the crime, and will face no civil or legal repercussions. Nobody will ever know how you earned your fortune. Would you accept this trade?

 

5.

 

On your deathbed, scientists approach you with an intriguing offer. They have the ability to transfer your entire consciousness into a random chimpanzee in the wilds of Africa. Your mind will be teleported into this chimp's brain, in the middle of nowhere, with no humans around for hundreds of miles. You will possess all of your mental faculties within this chimp's body, but you will still lack the vocal-chord configuration required to speak human language. Assume that you do not know sign language and have no way of teaching yourself sign language in the middle of the jungle. Furthermore, assume you do not possess the chimp's instincts or knowledge of its surroundings (its entire mind has been replaced with yours). Would you do it?

 

6.

 

A Kryptonian magician offers you all of the powers of Superman. The catch is that, every time use a specific power (flight, x-ray vision, etc.), a random person within a 100-mile radius of you will die. (You will never be one of the possible dead, but your friends and family could be). Do you accept the gift?

 

 

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