Years saved: Cryonics vs VillageReach

by handoflixue 1 min read1st Aug 201142 comments

19


I've run in to the argument that cryonics beats VillageReach on a simple "shut up and multiply" level, by assuming an infinity vs finite tradeoff. Having read the Fun Theory sequences, it struck me that this wasn't a reasonable assumption, so I sat down, re-read a few relevant posts, shut up, and multiplied.

In Continuous Improvement, Eliezer ballparks a good fun-theory life as having a maximum length of around 28,000 years. In Robin Hanson's Cryonics Probability Breakdown, he assigns cryonics a conjoint probability of about 6%. 28,000 * 0.06 gives us a net return of 1,680 expected years.

Full body suspension from the Cryonics Institute currently costs $28,000.

VillageReach, according to GiveWell, can save an infant's life for less than $1,000.

For the price of Cryonics, we thus save 28 lives. 1680 expected years, divided by 28, puts the break-even point at an average lifespan of 60 years for those infants saved. A quick peak at Wikipedia suggests that the average African life is under 60 years for the majority of the continent, although there are some important nuances to really get a full picture.

Obviously, these are rough numbers, and I doubt many people base their decisions solely on "years lived". I do find it rather interesting that cryonics is currently about on par with one of the most effective charities in the world on that metric, however :)