# Fredkin's paradox

**Fredkin's paradox** concerns the negative correlation between the *difference* between two options and the *difficulty* of deciding between them. Developed further, the paradox constitutes a major challenge to the possibility of pure instrumental rationality.

Proposed by Edward Fredkin, it reads: "The more equally attractive two alternatives seem, the harder it can be to choose between them—no matter that, to the same degree, the choice can only matter less."^{[1]} Thus, a decision-making agent might spend the most time on the least important decisions.

An intuitive response to Fredkin's paradox is to calibrate decision-making time with the importance of the decision: to calculate the cost of optimizing into the optimization, a version of the value of information. However, this response is self-referential and spawns a new, recursive paradox: the decision-maker must now optimize the optimization of the optimization, and so on.^{[2]}

## See also[edit]

- Buridan's ass
- Decision theory
- Cybernetics
- Parkinson's law of triviality
- Tyranny of small decisions
- What the Tortoise Said to Achilles

## References[edit]

**^**Minsky, Marvin (1986).*The Society of Mind*. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 52. ISBN 0-671-60740-5.**^**Klein, Gary (2001). "The Fiction of Optimization". In Gerd Gigerenzer, Reinhard Selten (ed.).*Bounded Rationality : The Adaptive Toolbox*(1 ed.). London: MIT. pp. 111–112. ISBN 0-262-57164-1.Thus, if I want to optimize, I must also determine the effort it will take to optimize; however, the subtask of determining this effort will itself take effort and so forth into the tangle that self-referential activities create.