Dream Diary: Differing Conceptions of the Optimal

I had taken a job as a prison guard in a remote part of New York state. There was a general consensus that I was excellent at my job; somehow I always kept my uniform impeccable even though the facility’s floors were made of mud.

One afternoon, the prison caught fire. I realized that all of the inmates would perish, as they were locked inside. Braving the conflagration, I opened all of the fire doors, and let everyone out. The smoke billowing, they scattered to the hills.

I was proud of my heroism. But to my surprise, the supervisors were furious.

I tried to defend myself “But there is no longer a prison! And everybody is free now! It is the optimal outcome!”

As they shouted at me for letting the prisoners go, I came to realize that we maintained differing conceptions of the optimal.