This is how people’s lives often feel:
And this is how my life feels:
Notice there is a difference.
I create lots of projects, here represented by clubs. And I make many friends. And have several hobbies. And several writings. And several coworkers. And dance partners. Movies, foods, lovers, and partnerships, you name it, I have lots of that thing.
Then I stack them on Wunderlist – a to do list app – ordered by expected value per hour.
Not value in money, of course. Money value is the amount society cares for a thing. I care way more about some things than society. Those are the ones I can buy from it, since, to me, they are cheap. Then there’s the other ones, those society won’t sell me for the price I want to pay, so I let it keep them.
So my to do list is in value for me. I translated it into Caleiro dollars per hour, just because units of value are ordinal preferences, and I might as well shortcut the path by tying my order to the amount I value the US dollar. So at the end of the day, it is ordered in subjective value per hour, but the unit is US dollar, meaning “the amount I currently care about 1 US dollar”.
Creating a to do list was a solution to the problem of juggling too many clubs.
The problem now is different, as the stack of tasks has become so large that the prize at the end of a project, where most of its value lies, won’t ever be reached for most projects.
So the stack builds up faster, and the values, though accurate if I took a project to it’s conclusion, no longer reflect the value given the project will probably eventually become a lose end, not completely finished.
That means of course, my counterfactuals are wrong. Counterfactuals are the difference between doing and not doing a thing.
My counterfactuals are wrong because the difference between not taking that action is now no longer tied to the end of the project, but just to the action itself. It has lost it’s long term connection in virtue of the sheer number of other things also tied to long term value I have on stack. Most of them will not be finished.
This, of course, caused me to more and more take actions that are short term valuable. While most people who identify as Effective Altruists or rationalists are guilty of postponing their utilons into undetectable distances, a problem I struggled with myself in the past, I was now suffering from the reverse syndrome. Let us call it hippie syndrome, where my well designed rational to do long term expected value calculator was outputting “Do what will give you nearly immediate satisfaction.”
An entity designed meticulously, for years, to help me aid the future of humanity after I die, and guarantee prosperity and satisfaction to future me, was telling me to go the carpe diem way… What happened?
Maybe I’m juggling one too many clubs.