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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Is this to be an empathy test?

The case of the missing Philip K. Dick head receives an entertaining decision from Judge Andrew Guilford, also a prof at UCLA Law: (emphasis mine)
Perhaps because he had just woken up, Plaintiff lacked the total recall to remember to retrieve the Head from the overhead bin.
...
Philip K. Dick and other science fiction luminaries have often explored whether robots might eventually evolve to exercise freedom of choice. See, e.g., 2001: A Space Odyssey (a HAL 9000 exercises his freedom of choice to make some bad decisions). But there is no doubt that humans have the freedom of choice to bind themselves in mutually advantageous contractual relationships. When Plaintiff chose to enter the Contract of Carriage with Defendant he agreed, among other things, to limit Defendant’s liability for lost baggage. Failing to show that he is entitled to relief from
that agreement, Plaintiff is bound by the terms of that contract, which bars his state law claims.
...
The Court must GRANT Defendant’s Motion. But it does so hoping that the android head of Mr. Dick is someday found, perhaps in an Elysian field of Orange County, Dick’s homeland, choosing to dream of electric sheep.
I appreciate a judge having fun with a decision, although I imagine the humor is not appreciated by the plaintiff. You have to wonder whether the urge to make certain jokes in the decision had any influence on the decision itself.

There's an Isaac Asimov short story where a criminal named Stein uses a time machine to travel into the future, past the end of the statute of limitations. He is arrested, and the District Attorney argues that the crime can be charged because the statute of limitations seeks to free the guilty from an unreasonably long limbo; thus Stein, who had only a few days of freedom before his capture, can be charged. Asimov writes that when the decision is read, the state howls that the urge to make a pun surely influenced the decision, for the decision reads, in full, "A niche in time saves Stein."

Likewise, I can't pass up the opportunity to write any post that I can conceivably title "See you at the party, Richter!", "They don't advertise for killers in the newspaper", or any of several other clunky one-liners from Philip K. Dick movies.

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