Hypothetical: Chaotic Punishment

I was talking to a good friend recently, telling him all about Beeminder and TaskRatchet, and he came back with an idea that I had never thought about. What would your reaction be to a Beeminder or TaskRatchet-like system that, instead of telling you exactly what you would be charged if you derailed, charged you a random amount each time you derailed?

Basically you’d set three variables:

  1. Minimum charge
  2. Maximum charge
  3. Target average charge

The system would then charge you at random between the minimum and maximum, weighting its random number generator to converge on the target average over time. But the RNG wouldn’t have a memory, so any charge could be the maximum charge or the minimum charge.

Terrible idea? Or fantastic? Why?



If I were going to design experiments around this, I’d definitely have:

  • actual bounded random
  • bounded random, but each random selection would set the new minimum. i.e. you’d never get a value chosen that was lower than a previously chosen one
  • something that scaled “your behavior” to the “punishment”. For me, I’d have it set so that if I had been slowly eating my buffer, I’d have a worse “punishment” than if I were doing just fine for a long time and then had an emergency, or even building buffer and then derailing in a single day.

Would the derailment range still increase with each derailment? Or would this be eliminating the increase altogether?

That is such a cool idea. Thankfully autoratcheting exists or I’d essentially need this. :sweat_smile:

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