Re: Decision theory

From: Wei Dai <>
Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 15:59:57 -0800

On Sat, Jan 09, 1999 at 09:53:31PM -0500, Jacques M Mallah wrote:
> A major constraint is that, with the finite amount of calculation
> that you do, even if you know the correct physics in principle, you would
> not be able to show a priori that any of the scenarios is counterfactual.
> Each scenario is supposed to represent your best estimate of what
> would happen. Of course in practice your estimates would be much cruder
> than the limits imposed by Godel's theorem. The only way you could get
> arbritrary predictions is if you were arbritrarily stupid.
> For example, if you know energy is conserved, then none of your
> scenarios would be shown in your analysis to violate that constraint.
> Is is possible that, in a chaotic system, your estimates would
> become very bad for large time - but there's no way to avoid that, you can
> only try to improve your estimates so far. It's known as the law of
> unintended consequences - any decision you make is bound to have some.
> Since you don't know what they are, you can't really take them into
> account, except in a general way by planning for an iterative series of
> decisions. The consequences of many decisions can be divided into a short
> term component, which you can model well, plus a long term component which
> you can treat as random and ignore when comparing your estimated utilities.
> But all this practical stuff is far removed from physics by this
> point. The interesting thing is the universality, that there is no way to
> escape from such considerations even in principle, regardless of the laws
> of physics.

That all sound reasonably enough. I would be really happy if all this
could be formalized and made mathematically precise, but it will do for
Received on Sun Jan 10 1999 - 16:02:54 PST

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