Re: decision theory papers

From: Wei Dai <>
Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2002 14:58:41 -0700

On Thu, Apr 18, 2002 at 02:08:56PM -0700, Brent Meeker wrote:
> Why are you in principle unable to compute your own choices? Do you refer
> to unable to predict or unable to enumerate or both?

I mean there is no algorithm which your brain can implement, such that
given the mathematical description of a universe and your place in it, it
always correctly predicts your decision. The reason is that the decision
you actually do make is going to be affected by the prediction. Whatever
prediction the algorithm makes, the rest of your brain can decide to do
something else after learning about the prediction.

> And do you mean with
> certainity or only probabilistically - It seems you can compute (in both
> senses) your choices probabilitically.

I mean with certainty. The meaning of probabilities isn't clear at this
point. Probabilities only make sense in the context of a decision theory,
which we don't have yet. What I'm describing is just the philosophical
framework for a decision theory. Invoking probabilities at this point
would be circular reasoning, because we want to justify the use of
probabilities (or something similar) using more basic considerations.
(This was one of the historical motiviations for classical decision

> Are you assuming that the
> algorithm describing the universe in deterministic or do you allow that it
> might have a random number generator?

Received on Thu Apr 18 2002 - 15:01:11 PDT

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