Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A matter of input

Recently I've been thinking about the decision making process in terms of freedom of choice as opposed to natural inputs that define your decisions. Freedom of choice, by definition, means that when you come to a decision point you can use your intellect, emotions, experience, randomity and whatever else you personally feel is relevant to actaully decide. Nobody is forcing you to make this specific decision and you can say that while logically A makes the most sense, I WANT to decide B. The problem is that it is impossible to have a completely objective view of any situation and the inputs you have received over the course of your life, including what you see as valid logic or valid emotional response might be something that other people see as illogical and/or an invalid emotional response. That means that your freedom of choice is severly limited by your experience. In other words, the more experience you have the less freedom of choice you have because your decision will be based very heavily on the inputs you have received over the course of your life. On the other hand, the less experience you have the more your decision becomes a factor of randomness and less a factor of real choice.

This indicates that true freedom of choice is very hard to come by, if it exists at all. Your choice is either a given (therefore not a choice) based on specific inputs or it is random which removes any value of having a choice. Unfortunately, this approach turns us into robots with a strong artificial intelligence module.

The question is, would it be possible for a machine, given 100% of a person's lifetime inputs be able to predict the choice correctly 100% of the time. As this is impossible to feed that into the machine, we will never know the answer.


Rolling hills of green said...

Which persons life input would you choose. That would always change the equation.

Anonymous said...

Any degree of experience is enough to start gaming what you think you know and by so doing exponentially increasing your range of freedom and your range of experience at the same time.

rockofgalilee said...

The question is whether your experience forces your decisions.

Take any real choice, look at the decision and try to figure out what factors you "took into consideration" and for each factor whether you could have objectively (not randomly) chosen another way. If the answer is no, then you did not make an objective decision, it was made for you by your life experience.

If every decision is basically forced on you and your future decisions are based on the experience you gained in those situations, then all your factors taken into account have already been decided for you.

In other words, instead of gaming the system, the system has gamed you.

Anonymous said...

Decisions that are "in our genes"- I would agree that our genes game us. Career directions are different - especially if you have to telecommute or not.

rockofgalilee said...

Career directions are not different at all. The reason why someone would choose a career path is because they have certain values or traits ingrained in them, such that when the opportunity to "choose" came up, they didn't really have a choice, they went with the natural option. Even if the person feels that it is a struggle to decide, if you break down the weighted variables, the end result is a clear path to the same decision.

If there is no clear path to a decision, that means the choice was in fact random as the pros did not outweigh the cons for any particular decision.

All decisions are derived from a weighing of pros and cons. If a person would make a choice in which the cons were stronger then the pros, that simply means that he did not consider all of the variables in his weighing of the options.

An unpopular, "irrational" decision, for example, might include a strong variable that you want to swim against the current or do something different. But that doesn't mean that given his life's inputs that it was not completely predictable.