I'm trying to remember a story (comic or book I think) where there is a robot that can calculate injury, suffering and harm caused to others.

The hero of the story thinks that they have not hurt anyone, or that any such hurt was insignificant, but the robot informs them that through careless actions and other things they have actually caused a number of deaths (in the order of 2 to 8.5, as I recall) - none of the injuries were a complete death, or even a high fraction of one, but in the aggregate they caused several.

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    Similar idea in 'Going Postal' by Terry Pratchett. A Golem parole officer tells Moist Von Lipwig that he has 'killed two point three three eight people'. Not sure if this is independent development of the same idea, or if one was inspired by the other.
    – Michael
    Commented Jan 24, 2020 at 11:50
  • It might be worth noting that we do it IRL. Commented Jan 25, 2020 at 20:21
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    Terminator 2. "Human Casualties: 0.0"
    – Mazura
    Commented Jan 25, 2020 at 21:15

1 Answer 1


"Going Postal" by Terry Pratchett, said by a golem to a fraud and confidence trickster Moist Von Lipwig who prides himself on never using violence to perpetrate his crimes.

Relevant quote:

“Do you understand what I'm saying?" shouted Moist. "You can't just go around killing people!"

"Why Not? You Do." The golem lowered his arm.

"What?" snapped Moist. "I do not! Who told you that?"

"I Worked It Out. You Have Killed Two Point Three Three Eight People," said the golem calmly.

"I have never laid a finger on anyone in my life, Mr Pump. I may be–– all the things you know I am, but I am not a killer! I have never so much as drawn a sword!"

"No, You Have Not. But You Have Stolen, Embezzled, Defrauded And Swindled Without Discrimination, Mr Lipvig. You Have Ruined Businesses And Destroyed Jobs. When Banks Fail, It Is Seldom Bankers Who Starve. Your Actions Have Taken Money From Those Who Had Little Enough To Begin With. In A Myriad Small Ways You Have Hastened The Deaths Of Many. You Do Not Know Them. You Did Not See Them Bleed. But You Snatched Bread From Their Mouths And Tore Clothes From Their Backs. For Sport, Mr Lipvig. For Sport. For The Joy Of The Game.”

Later made into mini-series.

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    Yep, that's it, well done and many thanks. Apologies for turning a golem into a robot... funny old thing, memory! Wow, I really should have remembered that. Commented Jan 24, 2020 at 12:46
  • @JamesCarlyle-Clarke Same thing really.
    – detly
    Commented Jan 25, 2020 at 6:15
  • 4
    One is clay, one is metal; one runs on magic sparks, one on magic words, but I agree, very similar in many ways. Commented Jan 25, 2020 at 7:40

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