Markus Woltjer

Wiki Contributions


Michael_Wiebe's Shortform

It's often laughable. I would think of it like this. Each action can be represented as a polynomial that calculates the value at a time based on time:

v(t) = c1*t^n + c2*t^(n-1 )+...+c3*t+c4

I would think of the value function of the decisions in my life to be the sum of the individual value functions. With every decision I'm presented with multiple functions, and I get to pick one and the coefficients will basically be added into my life's total value function.

Consider foresight to be the ability to predict the end behavior of v for large t. If t=1000 means nothing to you, then c1 is far less important to you than if t=1000 means a lot to you.

Some people probably consciously ignore large t, for example educated people and politicians sometimes make the argument (and many of them certainly believe) that t greater than their life expectancy doesn't matter. This is why the climate crisis has been so difficult to prioritize, especially for people in power who might not have ten years left to live.

But also foresight is an ability. A toddler has trouble consider the importance of t=0.003 (the next day), and because of that no coefficients except for c4 matter. Resisting the entire tub of ice cream is impossible if you can't imagine a stomach ache.

It is unusual, probably even unnatural, to consider t=1000, but it is of course important. The largest t values we can imagine tell us the most about the coefficients for the high degree terms in the polynomial. It is unusual that most of our choices have effects for these coefficients, but some will, or some might, and those should be noticed, highlighted, etc. Until I learned the benefits of veganism, I had almost no consideration for high t values, and I was electrified by the short-term, medium-term, and especially long-term benefits such as avoiding a tipping point for the climate crisis. That was seven years ago and it's faded a little as I'm just passively supporting plant-based meats (consequences are sometimes easier to change than hearts).