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  • Writer's pictureNathan Davis

Journey to some of my values

Part of my job, my first job out of college is setting career goals, short term goals, my aspirations, and my brand. I must support all my goals. I need to be able and willing to achieve these goals. My mentor at work and from college both suggested I create a set of values which will help me evaluate my goals against who I am. If my values are not compatible with my goals, the values will not provide support for the goals. Two constraints which I decided to place on my values is they must be coherent and additive (additive meaning each value contributes an action to take in a scenario which the previous set of values did not). Oh yeah, I assumed values are a set.

Liking formal definitions, I decided a list of values would make coherence a very difficult problem. The nth value would require cohering to N-1 values. Generating N values would require O(N^2) coherency checks. Instead I’ve decided to use a directed acyclic graph (DAG). The specific value-DAG I’m using is shown below. I reckon values exist to help me evaluate my actions in the varying scenarios I may experience. So, I’ve made values exist on a basis of scenarios. However, note I will not define scenario or experience because that’s too hard for me right now. Iff people ask, I will try to formally define scenarios then experiences.


Defining a structure to contain values was not enough to get me to a set of values. I needed a reason to have values. I want values for defining my actions because I think it will help me remain a collaborative node in the social network existing around all of us. I reason: If people know how I will act in a scenario, then we should be able to avoid the prisoner’s dilemma by either discussion changing my values or avoiding the uncertainties which lead to defection. That being said I’m not convinced coherence is the best root value for all scenarios. Not everyone behaves as a rational node in the social network. When I am working with a person who is a defective node (DANGER) of the social network or someone who is not able to perceive feedback rationally then awareness of the other person is probably more important than a coherent response.

Given coherence and awareness are my root values. I’ve very informally found some values which I think add to their root values and provide “good” outcomes from various scenarios. Check out my value DAG.

Questions generated by creating my values:

Since starting to write this I have found a few values I want to add to my values DAG. These are creativity, rationalism, learning, compassion, and empathy. I believe the latter two values are particularly useful for communication with someone who you disagree with, but you still believe is a cooperative node of the social network. I was unsure how to place the former two values so instead of spending energy considering many scenarios and placing values, I will attempt to formalize an algorithm for adding values to the value DAG.




I think, that in addition to adding new values, you could determine if an action matches your values. You would have to make certain assumptions about the effects of the action. I also think you could determine if someone else’s actions match your values by assuming their values DAG based upon the accumulation of their actions. In the future, I hope to elaborate on add-value, in addition to evaluating yourself and other actions based on a value DAG.

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