Statistically valuing your life (Day 66)

Courts (and other organizations) frequently have to assign a monetary value to years of someone’s life, as well as whole lives. That idea has always felt cold, but makes some sense.

However, those numbers have very little to do with how *that person* values their life, instead calculating potential earnings, average years remaining, and lots of other comparisons.

I enjoy playing in the space of what I value my life at at a given time in a given circumstance, and what other people do in similar circumstances.

For instance: if one chooses to ride a motorcycle without a helmet on a beautiful summer day, they are tangibly increasing their risk of dying or severely damaging their life in exchange for increased enjoyment.

Our data are quite good, and you could easily calculate a fairly precise increment of risk. How one values now vs later matters a lot (discount rates), but that gives a lower bound on how that person internally values their life: they’ll accept X risk for that amount of enjoyment. You can get even more precise if they can honestly answer how much money they’d have to be paid to wear a helmet for that ride.

I haven’t actually done the math, but it’s certainly doable. It obviously changes a lot based on circumstance, and I have no doubt it’s quite [numetically] inconsistent for most people.

I find this stuff interesting by itself, the nature of people, but it’s also useful for aligning ones preferences efficiently, and making better risk decisions (cause we are notoriously erratic at consistent with management).

It would be rather foolish to be leaving piles of life on the table, after all.

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