Pascal's mugging and AI safety
Existential risk reduction via work on AI safety has occasionally been compared to Pascal's mugging. The critic of AI safety argues that working on AI safety has a very small probability of a very big payoff, which sounds suspicious.
The standard resolution seems to be:
- Point out that there are different levels of what "very small probability" means. Some people think 1% is very small, whereas in Pascal's mugging we are dealing with astronomically small probabilities such as 1/3^^^3.
- Argue that for probabilities like 1%, standard expected value calculations work fine.
- Argue that reducing x-risk from AI safety is more like a 1% chance than like an astronomically small chance.
Notably, Eliezer Yudkowsky has consistently argued against paying up in Pascal's mugging.