Re: [sl4] Bayesian rationality vs. voluntary mergers

From: Wei Dai (
Date: Mon Sep 08 2008 - 03:31:20 MDT

Norman Noman wrote:
> How is an AI which flips a coin and then turns the universe into
> paperclips
> or staples depending on the result "irrational"? It's certainly odd, but
> it
> seems rational to me.

It's "irrational" in the sense that such an AI can't be modeled by standard
decision theory, which is commonly used as a mathematical definition of
rationality. I tried to explain why in my post, but maybe didn't get my
point across. In standard decision theory, an agent either prefers one state
to another, say A and B (i.e., assigns them equal utilities), in which case
it also prefers state A to any probabilistic mixture of states A and B, or
it is indifferent between A and B, in which case it is also indifferent
between all probabilistic mixtures of states A and B. Note that it cannot
strictly prefer a probabilistic mixture of A and B to both A and B, which is
what is needed to get the "coin flip" behavior from the AI.

I agree with you that this AI should not be considered irrational, which is
why I'm arguing that we need an alternative to standard decision theory.

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