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Book Ideas

Various ideas for books or short stories that pop into my head when reading things.

From Atomic Habits:

“My suggestion was quite simple,” he wrote in 1981. “Put that [nuclear] code number in a little capsule, and then implant that capsule right next to the heart of a volunteer. The volunteer would carry with him a big, heavy butcher knife as he accompanied the President. If ever the President wanted to fire nuclear weapons, the only way he could do so would be for him first, with his own hands, to kill one human being. The President says, ‘George, I'm sorry but tens of millions must die.' He has to look at someone and realize what death is—what an innocent death is. Blood on the White House carpet. It's reality brought home. “When I suggested this to friends in the Pentagon they said, ‘My God, that's terrible.1 Having to kill someone would distort the President's judgment. He might never push the button.'”

From Killjoys:

A story set in a society where the government only interacted with the populace via nudges. Looking at the limits of nudge theory, and how far you could get without using coercion. Set in UK would work very well.

One can only speculate as to what legislative programme would emerge if a society was started from scratch based on nudge theory, but it would surely be more libertarian than any country currently in existence.

From Legal systems very different from ours:

Another problem raised by a law code that attempts a complete mapping from offense to punishment is that there may be cases where the punishment prescribed by the code is clearly too harsh for what actually occurred, where the offense fits the letter but not the spirit of the law. An example might be a killing that, according to the law, required capital punishment but was due to an accident involving no fault in the person held responsible. One solution was to find the offender guilty of a capital offense but permit the penalty to be commuted by a fine.

In Chinese law, punishments were listed for each possible crime. To avoid giving too strong a punishment in a case where the crime clearly did not justify it, the judge might allow a fine to be paid instead.

The short story would be a dark comedy following a man who accidentally causes the death of a stranger. The legal system is staffed by truly goodhearted people who keep trying to give him a way to escape the punishment (by construction of the trial, by allowing a fine to be paid, by allowing him an opportunity for pardon, by allowing him to escape) but in the end, the system trundles on and he is executed.

From Why We Sleep

here is a very rare genetic disorder that starts with a progressive insomnia, emerging in midlife. Several months into the disease course, the patient stops sleeping altogether. By this stage, they have started to lose many basic brain and body functions. No drugs that we currently have will help the patient sleep. After twelve to eighteen months of no sleep, the patient will die. Though exceedingly rare, this disorder asserts that a lack of sleep can kill a hum

First-person horror story?


I think this is a general weakness of deep learning systems – they depend heavily on data being from the expected distribution it was trained for. I recently saw the AlphaGo movie, and while there is much antrophomorphizing about how the system “lost it” after an unexpected move by Lee Sedol, my interpretation is that the game state simply entered into territory which AlphaGo hadn’t explored much.

Dystopian future in which only massive weirdoes are able to overthrow our machine overlords, anyone?

Like the Rick and Morty episode where they behave randomly to evade a robotic heist robot.

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Last modified 2020-01-07 周二 12:47. Contact