Episode 174: Counterfactual Simulation

This episode contains: Devon just bought a new (used) car! Devon put a ton of miles on his old car and it was ready to fall apart. Devon is taking a lot of new responsibilities (mortgage, kids, new car) which makes work more stressful.

Sci-Fi: Star Trek: Discovery used the “F” word and we had some mixed feelings about it. They had already used the “S” word a couple times. Devon felt the use of profanity was forced and unnecessary. We discuss how the profanity was used, if it was forced, if it was necessary and what it means about this new iteration of Star Trek. We also look at how other sci-fi shows have used profanity in clever fraking ways. We then touch on a little bit of Star Wars news but there’s not much, other than reveal of the obvious name for the Han Solo movie. We also wonder when the first trailer for Solo will drop. Perhaps before The Lest Jedi? Also, Harmonquest is still cool. Also, Steven really like Big Mouth, an awesome Netflix show about puberty.

Interlude: Devon tried to plan a “Baby-moon” but failed miserably. It turns out there’s also a Santa Cruz in Spain as well. And Speaking of Spain, Steven knows about a major current news event that Devon hasn’t heard of.

Robotic Overlords: There is another version of Alpha Go, the AI that beat the world’s best Go player, that uses a new way of learning. The new program is Alpha Go Zero. Where the original program learned from examples of actual games, the new system trained itself based on the basic rules of the game. The new program uses less processors and took less time to train.


Brain Matters: Scientists tested how we find causation/place blame by having test subjects watch videos of pools balls hitting each other and tracking the subjects eyes when they were asked questions about the balls. They found that when asked about the effect one ball had on another, the subjects tracked the possible track of the balls if they had not been hit. The scientists extrapolate that people imagine what would have happened if an intervening factor had not changed a series of events. This is also called counter factual simulation. We discuss how this relates to law with actual causation and proximate causation. We then play a new game invented by Steven called Utopia or Dystopia. Steven asks if having a computer administer our justice system would lead to a utopia or dystopia.



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