Things 22: Transplant Problem, Fantastic Contraption, Profile Pictures

(Originally sent August 2008)

This week’s… thing
Didn’t end up seeing any films last week, but I did end up getting my thesis bound for submission.

Next Week’s films
I’ll be watching the new X-Files movie.   6.8/10 | 32%

I’ll be trying to get a ticket for the preview of Hellboy II.   7.9/10 | 88%

I’ll be seeing The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.   unrated | 11%


Last week we considered the ‘trolley problem’. If the people concerned are indistinguishable, then the vast majority of people choose to divert the trolley and kill one to save the many. (The few that disagree with this generally consider the action of diverting the trolley makes you culpable for the death, whereas not doing anything leaves you inculpable even though more people die).

This week it’s time for the follow up!

A brilliant transplant surgeon has five patients, each in need of a different organ, each of whom will die without that organ. Unfortunately, there are no organs available to perform any of these five transplant operations. A healthy young traveller, just passing through the city the doctor works in, comes in for a routine checkup. In the course of doing the checkup, the doctor discovers that his organs are compatible with all five of his dying patients. Suppose further that if the young man were to disappear, no one would suspect the doctor.

In the doctor’s place, would you kill the young man to save the five, or spare him and let the five die?

Overheard conversation as I got on the tube the other day:

Man: “Go on then, what did you do that was really evil.”
Woman: “Well, I killed my daughter.”
Man: “Yeah, I guess that is pretty evil.”
[slightly awkward pause]
Woman: “I also killed two other main characters.”

A brilliant game to test your inventiveness:

Usually I filter out the things that I know will only really appeal to me and are unlikely to be of interest to anyone else. But I enjoyed this video so much I had to share it anyway.

It’s a great example of today’s collaborative culture – the videogame music from Final Fantasy 4 was originally composed by one guy, then some other (Japanese) nutters remade it with lyrics for the bad guys that the music was the theme for, then some artist made a video version using their illustrations to illustrate the song, then someone else took that and added English subtitles! Copyright law has a lot of catching up to do.

A picture
PhD comics came up with this insightful segmentation of profile pictures.