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30 September 2006

Quality-of-life as vector-valued-quantity.



My own personal bias concerning the question of
quality of life is that it can't be objectively
(e)valuated, let alone quantified. Nevertheless,
I decided to write the present screed, which is to
say a screed titled Quality-of-life as vector-valued-quantity.



My inner purpose in doing this is not in this case
devil's advocacy, although I might decide to weave some
of that in at some point. No, my purpose for the moment
is simply to provide an at least vestigially developed
framework for a model of subjective utility that doesn't
rest on an assumption (how about assertion?) that
quality-of-life is not only measurable, it's scalar.
In formal terms, I'm playing devil's advocate by impersonating
someone who thinks there may some practical merit in
modeling QOL-estimation as (literally) a 'numbers game,'
except the 'numbers' I want to crunch are actually
vectors (or maybe matrices or even something as eldrich and
unholy as tensors). On the other hand, my present character
is also militant opponent of the scalar modeling of utility
(let alone quality of life). A detailed, if not organized,
account of how I came to be interested in this subject,
as well as my mostly naïve (and probably intellectually redundant)
efforts at a mathematical framework, have been collected and
collated as 'pubwan scratchpad.'



I decided to try to posit a mathematical model for a basically
Walrasian utility function that happens to be vector-valued.
It also happens to be 'high dimensional,' if you get my drift.
At several points in the process, I have felt inclined to
simply give up. My reasons for being so tempted are thus:



* It has occurred to me that, in a world in which
there's no such thing as a free lunch, trying to force
bilateral transparency out of the market mechanism
makes no more sense than trying to invent a perpetual
motion machine.



* It has occurred to me that, in a world in which
the discipline called 'history of technology' is 1%
historiography and 99% disinformation theory, the
chance that I've hit on something new is slim,
and the chance of objectively verifying whether I've hit on
something new is slim to none.



* Given the intellectual-property-gold-rush nature
of the current gilded age, a probable outcome of
verifying anything, or even making a studied effort
at it, is the inevitable cease-and-desist-order,
or worse, the darkly Straussian 'technology export
restriction.'



In spite of these disincentives (or perhaps
out of spite for them) I persist in trying to
make a coherent case for the notion of vector-valued
utility. Part of what keeps me from giving up is
wishful thinking. I want to believe that money
isn't everything. For now, my strategy of choice
is to attempt to demonstrate that
the apparent law of economics that says money
is everything is flawed, due to the a priori
assumption that utility is a scalar quantity.

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