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War Stories from the Future
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War Stories from the Future > "The Exception That Proves the Rule" by Mathew Burrows

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

This is our discussion of the short story....

"The Exception That Proves the Rule" by Mathew Burrows

From the scifi anthology War Stories from the Future, part of our discussion of War Stories from the Future. (The entire collection is available free online in several formats.)


message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Jul 19, 2016 06:10AM) (new)

Andrew is a promising UK student who gets a job developing "big data" mathematical models to predict who will become a terrorist based on collecting all possible governmental and commercial data about everyone, including DNA. His coworker, Claire, is more into the social engineering & psychological predictors of terrorism (nature vs nurture.) Their efforts at precognition are stymied when Clare refuses to believe her brother could ever be a potential jihadist.

What's odd about this story is what it doesn't even think about: Nobody ever asks if the government ought to be spying on all its citizens to collect all that data, and nobody ever discusses whether statistical analysis of data can be used as evidence of "future crime".

I'm not sure really what the point of this story is meant to be. A rousing endorsement of Big Brother? Or, removing the human element, more like Skynet?

As an effort in storytelling, the characters are dry and completely cardboard. The author isn't much for small details beyond what's necessary to the plot, possibly because Mathew Burrows is one of the Atlantic Council's non-fiction policy authors, not really the fiction-writer type. **


message 3: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2264 comments This was scary on several levels. Big data versus the human condition in the fight against terrorism. I don't think it was for or against anything - more of a doodle of what could be & may well be. I liked that. Could have been a 5 star story, but it seemed thin at the end. I don't know why, but maybe it was the lack of characterization. I gave it 4 stars.


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