Discounting the Future — FastForward Radio

By | June 6, 2012

Stephen Pinker, writing in The Better Angels of Our Nature:

It makes no sense to scrimp all your life so that you can have one hell of a ninetieth birthday bash. Self-indulgence becomes irrational only when we discount the future too steeply—when we devalue our future selves way below what they should be worth given the chance that those selves will still be around to enjoy what we’ve saved for them. There is an optimum rate of discounting the future—mathematically, an optimum interest rate—which depends on how long you expect to live, how likely you will get back what you saved, how long you can stretch out the value of a resource, and how much you would enjoy it at different points in your life.

So — is FastForward Radio steering people wrong when we tell them to focus on the future? Exactly how steeply should the future be discounted in an era of accelerating change?

You could die tomorrow. You could live another 50 years. Or maybe you could live another 500 years. So how much is your future worth? And which estimate do you use to value it?

Tune in and we’ll explore!

Plus — Paul Victor Vasquez joins us to talk about United Stewardship Alliance’s latest uChallenge.

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  • Ivonne

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