When does it pay to play (lottery)?

From: Slawomir Paliwoda (velvethum@hotmail.com)
Date: Sat Jan 22 2005 - 17:02:01 MST

> Most lottery players know the expected value of a lottery ticket is less
> than the price they pay for the ticket, but they play anyway because
> they like the psychological drama of it.

They play because they are not strong enough in the Way to feel emotionally
the true meaning of the words, "Odds of a hundred million to one". They
have not learned to translate mere dry statistics into a feeling of
absolute and utter certainty, far exceeding any proposition of science or
everyday life, that they SHALL NOT win the lottery. If you understand
that, there is no psychological drama.

Eliezer's argument seems self-defeating unless he thinks the odds of 
creating AI, let alone FAI, by SIAI's team are better than the odds of 
winning lottery. Otherwise, it would be irrational to tell people not to buy 
lottery tickets while requesting support for SIAI's project to build AI that 
has similarly poor odds of success. If we assume this is consistent 
argument, the difference between a plain lottery ticket and SIAI's version 
of a lottery ticket must lie in the perception of their respective odds, 
with the latter "ticket" having much better chance of winning than the 
former. So the question is very clear. What kind of odds does SIAI think it 
has of succeeding, and beyond that, what is, in general, the odds or 
probability threshold above which it would be rational to buy a type of 
lottery ticket? 1/10000, 1/1000, 1/100, 1/10?

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