Back to LessWrong

Parfit's hitchhiker

From Lesswrongwiki

Jump to: navigation, search

Parfit's hitchhiker is a problem for testing decision theories. It asks an agent to sacrifice utility at a later a time to obtain utility at an earlier time, where the sacrifice happens after the benefit:

"Suppose you're out in the desert, running out of water, and soon to die - when someone in a motor vehicle drives up next to you. Furthermore, the driver of the motor vehicle is a perfectly selfish ideal game-theoretic agent, and even further, so are you; and what's more, the driver is Paul Ekman, who's really, really good at reading facial microexpressions. The driver says, "Well, I'll convey you to town if it's in my interest to do so - so will you give me $100 from an ATM when we reach town?"
Now of course you wish you could answer "Yes", but as an ideal game theorist yourself, you realize that, once you actually reach town, you'll have no further motive to pay off the driver. "Yes," you say. "You're lying," says the driver, and drives off leaving you to die.
If only you weren't so rational!
This is the dilemma of Parfit's Hitchhiker, and the above is the standard resolution according to mainstream philosophy's causal decision theory, which also two-boxes on Newcomb's problem and defects in the [Twin] Prisoner's Dilemma." Eliezer Yudkowsky

Blog posts

See also