The Dick Kick’em Paradox

What is the point of this thought experiment?

To demonstrate that thought experiments involving mind reading agents (such as the AI in “Newcomb’s Paradox” or Paul Ekman) can create scenarios in which any decision theory will be worse off than another. If we allow these agents to exist then no decision theory will be stricly better than anther.

The Paradox

Let’s say we have two competing decision theories ADT and BDT, these can be any two decision theories you like, so long as they are different. Here, different is meant that there exists a scenario where ADT leads to a different decision than BDT.

Consider a mind-reading agent like Paul Ekman or a super intelligent AI that we will call Dick Kick’em. Like in the thought experiments mentioned above, Dick Kick’em can read the minds of other agents, know their beliefs, and future actions with near certainty.

Now imagine you are wandering the streets and you come across Dick Kick’em. He says “I am going to read you mind and if you believe in ADT I will leave you alone, but if you believe in BDT I will kick you in the dick”. Let’s consider the scenarios:

You believe in ADT: You get left alone, net zero utility.

You believe in BDT: You get kicked in the dick, negative utility.

Therefore, ADT is a superior decision theory compared to BDT.


Since ADT and BDT are arbitrary decision theories, we can use this scenario to show that CDT is better than UDT or even TDT. Either that, or the idea of mind reading agents is flawed. Thought experiments like “Newcomb’s Paradox” essentially boil down to the same thing as the “Dick Kick’em Paradox” except instead of having the AI kick you directly there is a small game that makes it look like there’s actual decision theory involved.