The Cost Of Conscious Thought

Conscious thought comes at a price. Unfortunately for us, conscious thought only operates in a single thread. You can’t have more than 1 train of thought at a time. This means we have to be extremely resourceful in optimizing what enters our conscious mind. All of us optimize for this but few of us realize that it is this which explains some of our seemingly irrational behavior. If a stranger came up to you and gave you $20, it’s likely you would decline this. One of the reasons you might decline is because for the rest of the day your brain would be caught up in thinking “but why did that girl give me that money? What did she want? Who is she?” preventing you from thinking about other things.

It also explains why we humans prefer fixed payments per month on our phones and on our internet. It would make much more sense for people to pay proportional to how much of the service they use but the prices don’t reflect this. Different amounts are lumped together. eg there may be a plan for 400 minutes per month and 800 minutes per month. It makes no sense for someone who uses 401 minutes to pay the same as someone who uses 800 minutes because the cost for the company is proportional to how much the services are used. Of course economies of scale apply here so instead of charging $1 a minute, it would make sense to charge say your number of minutes to the power 0.67 (or whichever power most closely approximates your estimates of the decrease in cost of economies of scale).

We like these plans because the thought “hmm I wonder how much this months bill will be” never enters the mind. And this is a dream for those constant worriers. By paying a fixed about you liberate yourself from the thought of how much you will have to pay. It’s sad but this is the main reason we like these sort of payment plans. Worry free plans. It’s why we love unlimited data plans.

Unlimited data plans are actually terrible for the ISPs. It turns out that the top 2% of users use up more than a majority of the bandwidth. Those at the top are gaining the most from this plan, while those who use little are not gaining much. But this does not worry them much as most people are blissfully unaware of how much more value other users are getting because few people are good at estimating how much data they use and how much others could be using.


One thought on “The Cost Of Conscious Thought

  1. Pingback: Why I don’t charge for this blog. | Emphatious

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