Court cases that sound like the weirdest fights
2 min read

Court cases that sound like the weirdest fights

Court cases that sound like the weirdest fights

In the course of running a blog where I train neural nets to imitate human things, I have the fun of sometimes being introduced to things that I didn’t know very much about. Like knitting. Or crochet. Or the common names of mushrooms. Or the names of high school robot teams.

Blog reader Clark S introduced me to a new area: that of in rem jurisdiction cases.

What are these? One of the quirks of the US legal system is that in certain cases the court will set up a case against inanimate objects - something to do with the process of seizing contraband or dangerous goods. I still don’t really understand it. But the court cases are called in rem jurisdiction cases, and they end up sounding oddly like they’re asking which would win in a fight. Some of the strangest have included:

United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins
United States v. 12 200-ft. Reels of Film
United States v. One Book Called Ulysses
United States v. One Tyrannosaurus Bataar Skeleton
United States v One Solid Gold Object In The Form Of A Rooster
Quantity of Books v. Kansas
South Dakota v. Fifteen Impounded Cats

Those are the real ones. The REAL ONES.

What would they be like when imitated by a neural net?

I used a neural net called GPT-2, which learned from millions of web pages. When I gave it the list above and asked it to add to the list (via talktotransformer.com), it tried to pick similar kinds of words and phrases, but didn’t know what things are likely to be seized by the US government.

Texas v. One Small Dog With A Napkin Near It
South Dakota v. Eight Holes In A Rubber Floor
Tennessee v. One Picture of an Adorable Phantom of the Opera
Texas v. One Plate of Bread
France v. Three Odor-Producing Insects
United States v. An Overcrowded Hole In The Ground
United States v. Five Hundred and Twelve Otters
United States v. Two Packs of Filthy Watermelon Pretzels
South Dakota v. One Bobcat
Texas v. One Small Dog With A Napkin Near It
South Dakota v. Eight Holes In A Rubber Floor
Tennessee v. One Picture of an Adorable Phantom of the Opera
Texas v. One Plate of Bread
France v. Three Odor-Producing Insects
United States v. An Overcrowded Hole In The Ground
United States v. Five Hundred and Twelve Otters
United States v. Two Packs of Filthy Watermelon Pretzels
South Dakota v. One Bobcat

There would be a story behind these, for sure.

These next few would probably fall under the Dangerous Goods category. Or maybe the Perfectly Normal Goods if Everything on the Internet is Real category. (As far as the neural net knows, everything on the internet IS real, because the internet training data is all it knows exists.) I did not try to illustrate them because, well

South Dakota v. Apparition At A Shoe Store
United States v. A Disturbing Weather Forecast (Beware of the Video)
United States v. One Shipping Package That Looks Like It’s Made of Stem Cells
West Virginia v. All Bone Servants From A Post Office Box
United States v. One Man With Numerous Footwide Gibberellic Organs
United States v. Several Floating Hoops
United States v. 90,877 Pounds of Human Hair
United States v. Approximately 213,187 Cattle Heads

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