Some modeling and a few pseudo-equations

Imagine a surface representing a function z with independent variables x and t.

(This is just a random image from Google to help out the visualization a little.)

The height of the function z(x, t) represents the amount of anxiety an economic actor feels over time, t, and the range of his available choices x. We assume that an economic actor will seek the lowest anxiety possible. Therefore:

Immediate natural inclination (of man) = – grad of Anxiety = -(dz/dt + dz/dx)

If an actor has no understanding of material cause and effect, like a newborn infant, then as they move forward through time they will choose (modifying the variable x) whichever path ahead of them has the most downward slope, even if this leads them to make a choice that will cause them a great deal of anxiety in the future (like the discomfort of sitting in a poop-filled diaper). This is because they are future-blind. But with experience and observation, we develop the ability to make predictions about the anxiety levels following certain decisions that are similar to previous decisions, and therefore make better decisions.

To make sense of this, we have to introduce another graph for “perceived future anxiety” which is more or less similar to the real graph of future anxiety, z(x, t), if a person is pretty good at predicting the future. It could be wildly different if they are bad at predicting the future, but much more often it is just more “fuzzy” as t increases. That is, a person will perceive many possible anxiety levels distributed along the z-axis, representing perceived possible outcomes for each choice of x (each with its own likelihood).

Okay, that was an awful lot of setup for this next one.

Expected anxiety for choice = Sum (or integral) of (outcome’s anxiety * outcome’s probability) for all conceivable outcomes

Time preference is a personality trait weighting decisions toward immediate gratification (reduction of anxiety. It should be visualized as a weight distribution. For each individual, it can be expressed as a function of “time distance from the present time”, or delta t. A person’s time preference can change over their lifetime, but it tends to stay the same.

(Corrected) natural inclination = – grad (Time preference * Expected anxiety)

The multiplication there is for two distributions. Think dot product. I can’t think of a better way to describe it right now.

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About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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19 Responses to Some modeling and a few pseudo-equations

  1. Edenist whackjob says:

    I feel clever for referencing this: http://cdixon.org/2009/09/19/climbing-the-wrong-hill/

  2. Edenist whackjob says:

    Random thought: is preoccupation with food security a sign of K thinking?

    I find myself thinking I am not worthy because my job does not involve food production. I make plans to grow my own food. As a kid I was really into Robinson Crusoe, survivalism and the idea of building self-sufficient bunkers. I always stock up food in my home.

    It sounds funny but I hold myself back from making a lot of money (or at least it feels scammy) simply because I translate the cash amount into “units of food” and it feels like I didn’t earn it. Small-tribe fairness instincts?

      • Heaviside says:

        I used to think like that as a kid, but then I figured that other people are so worthless you might as well leech off them as much as you like.

        • Aeoli Pera says:

          Worthless in the economic sense, sure. But if we are being honest, economic considerations only account for about 50% of everyday human activity and only carry about a 1-5 percent wage in decision-making.

      • Edenist whackjob says:

        “I used to think like that as a kid, but then I figured that other people are so worthless you might as well leech off them as much as you like.”

        Having the right blend of ingenopathy and ruthlessness is possibly a key skill to have in modern society.

        If one finds oneself becoming too stringent to function, maybe it´s time to introduce a bit of slop to one’s mental machinery. Become a bit loose around the edges.

        Right now I am trying to see if running over civilians in GTA V will spill over as added “sloppiness” in the rest of life. I feel a twinge of “that´s not good” everytime I do, which is kind of laughable as it´s just a game. (Or is it?)

        • Aeoli Pera says:

          No I don’t think it is just a game, just as life itself is not just a game (though it contains game-like elements). Remember, God is looking at your heart. Think “brain in a vat, under constant EEG”. Paranoia is, after all, good for you.

      • Heaviside says:

        I am not ruthless in any way which accrues anything more than a trivial personal advantage to me. I am just a misanthrope. I am like Lubos Motl and think that people who disagree with me should be liquidated, but I don’t have the means to do it. Yet.

      • Aeoli Pera says:

        That post really emphasized for me the thin line between narcissists and Neanderthals. Hopefully I’ll be writing a post talking circuitously around that in the near future, but don’t hold your breath.

      • Edenist whackjob says:

        “No I don’t think it is just a game, just as life itself is not just a game (though it contains game-like elements).”

        Interesting stance on the video game violence debate. (Is it even a debate anymore?)

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      >Random thought: is preoccupation with food security a sign of K thinking?

      Absolutely yes.

      >It sounds funny but I hold myself back from making a lot of money (or at least it feels scammy) simply because I translate the cash amount into “units of food” and it feels like I didn’t earn it. Small-tribe fairness instincts?

      Sustainability instincts, I think. Who knows, this might be the instinct from which the various labor or grain theories although the value come from. I know I’ve fallen into this myself.

  3. I think Robert Nozick did this already

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