Home Novel Survivorship Bias Chapter 2

Survivorship Bias Chapter 2

The battle of intelligence and prediction.

“It turned out to be the character for blame1.” The boy beside him finally spoke.

An Wujiu turned his head and caught a small expression of satisfied curiosity on his exceedingly cold face. His name was also floating, and he was called Wu You.

“Ah, I’m also curious about this.” The beauty on the right also spoke, with the words [Zhong Yirou] floating in front of her. She rested her chin with her palm and tapped her fingernails on her cheeks. “This name doesn’t look like a poor man who’d come to compete at all.”

She wore berry-colored lipstick, and her eyes were big and beautiful. “Your neck…” Zhong Yirou stretched out her finger, pointed to the side of An Wujiu’s neck, then moved closer. “Are these flower tattoos?”

“Flowers?” An Wujiu lowered his head. Seeing that he couldn’t see, Zhong Yirou spread out her left palm and placed it in front of An Wujiu. Embedded in her palm was a small circular mirror. 

“Here, this white one is quite nice.”

From the mirror reflection, An Wujiu found a large cluster of flowers on his neck. The snow-white thin edges outlined the blooming shape. The petals were complicated and layered, obliquely climbing from the left clavicle to the back of the right ear.

But he didn’t seem to have seen these flowers in his memory.

“I don’t remember either.” An Wujiu placed his fingers on it and rubbed the skin red, but he couldn’t get it off.

Was it really a tattoo?

“Chinese peony,” Wu You interjected from the side but quickly added in a low voice, “It seems to be.”

Zhong Yirou was shocked. “Chinese peony? Have you seen a Chinese peony? Nowadays, this decorative flower is almost extinct.”

In the world of polluted lands and waters, there was not much soil available for food crops, let alone ornamental vegetation.

Wu You pursed his lips. “My mother…” He seemed to think he had said something wrong, stopped, and explained perfunctorily, “My family has a collection…”

Zhong Yirou felt even more stupefied after hearing this. “What kind of rich and noble family are you?”

“A bogus.” Wu You pressed the brim of his hat and folded his hands on the table. “Artificial.”

“Is that so?” The doubt on Zhong Yirou’s face didn’t disappear completely. She put away her small mirror, observed the skin on An Wujiu’s neck again, and said to herself, “It doesn’t look like a tattoo… Nor does it seem to be artificial skin.”

An Wujiu didn’t think much about the strange peony pattern on his body anymore. After all, he had lost his memory, so thinking about it was useless.

He bowed his head slightly and caught a glimpse of an opening in Zhong Yirou’s cheongsam, revealing bandages on her legs. The skin on her left calf was unlike the other areas. It should be an entire piece of artificial graft skin made with polysaccharides from shark cartilage, which was strangely smooth.

In addition, she carried a roll-shaped bag diagonally behind her. The index and middle fingers of both her hands had thin calluses, and there were slight cuts on the sides of her fingers. It was a narrow shape that only a very sharp blade could cause. The nails were short and applied with red polish, and on the edge of her pinkie had a tinge of something black.

Engine oil?

The voice sounded again, and An Wujiu stopped observing.

“This warm-up game is called The Golden Mean, and the rules are simple.”

A holographic projection was projected on the table, displaying eight screens with a constantly changing number.

“From the natural numbers, one to 100, every one of you will pick a number of your choosing. Write it with your finger on the touchscreen in front of you.”

The rotation on the eight monitors stopped, and eight numbers randomly appeared. Then, a new number appeared above the eight devices. “Add these eight numbers and divide them by 8 to get an average value.”

“The one with the number closest to half the real average is the winner of the warm-up game and will have an official in-game advantage and the right to decide the competition format.”

“Everyone has five minutes to think and write down their answer.”

“In that case, the timer begins.”

A timer appeared on the round table, which instantly became 4 minutes and 59 seconds, continuously decreasing. The noise, which had only recently subsided, came back. An Wujiu’s forehead was soaked with cold sweat, and his hands began trembling again. He brought his hand under the table and tried to clench it tightly, only to hear a brawny man across from him say, “Unexpectedly, Laozi2 has to do a math problem.”

An Wujiu stared at the man who had just spoken. His name was displayed as Liu Chengwei, and he looked at least thirty years old, but he dressed like he was muddling around in society. He had many tiny pinholes on his arms and a metallic skeleton covering both fists, although the material was mediocre.

“Fuck, what I hate the most is counting.” Liu Chengwei bore an old scar on his face, sloping down from the middle of the brow bone to the cheekbone. His whole eye was injured, and the eyeball in the socket bone was somewhat atrophic and gray.

Wu You was still playing with the Rubik’s Cube in his hand, lowered his head, and didn’t lift his eyes. “Haven’t you learned how to count?”

The words were not pleasant to hear, and Liu Chengwei was immediately infuriated by him. “Can you talk, kid?” He glanced at Wu You’s ill-fitting old clothes. “You think you look like a person who goes to school?”

The world was entirely run by capital.

Capitalists, who accounted for almost 90% of the world’s wealth, enjoyed and wasted surplus resources, including education. The essence of class solidification was to master the cognitive abilities of the lower class, so the compulsory universal education system had long been dissolved. Fundamental mathematics education was expensive, and a comprehensive set of the basic subjects had deterred many poor people, not to mention physics, astronomy, and artificial intelligence.

Want to understand the nature of the world?

Just have money.

Wu You rolled his eyes. “At least I’m not illiterate.”

“That, sorry to interrupt you all…” A freckled young man who looked silly and wore glasses couldn’t help but speak out and persuade them. “It’s just guessing numbers. It’s not a difficult question. Let’s not argue.”

The suspended name in front of him was [Ueno Taisei], a Japanese man. Judging by the mouth shape, it seemed he was speaking Japanese, but what An Wujiu heard was Chinese.

Ueno’s words did not relieve Liu Chengwei’s anger. Instead, the other party poured their anger out on him. “What are you talking about, poor bastard who can’t even afford implantable glasses!”

“I… I’m sorry.” Ueno swallowed his words again and embarrassedly pushed the old glasses he had used for seven years on the bridge of his nose.

“What he said is not wrong. It’s not a complicated problem. Do what the divine voice says. Finally, compare it with half the mean of everyone’s numbers.” Zhong Yirou smiled daintily and pointed to the people on the table individually. “You choose 10, you choose 20, and so on…” She turned her head to look at An Wujiu and pointed at him with her long fingers, “Finally, it’s your turn. If you choose 80, with eight people, the final average will be 45. Take half. The people who choose 22 and 23 will be the closest.”

After speaking, Zhong Yirou smiled, “It’s not difficult to calculate, but who can guess which number each person will choose?”

“That’s right.” The middle-aged man Yang Ming, who had been targeting An Wujiu, said, “The warm-up game is also strange. It completely depends on luck.”

An Wujiu stared at his face. The man could hide his tone when he spoke, but the subtle expression on his face was not well hidden.

“What kind of work does Mr. Yang do?” Zhong Yirou smiled and diverted the topic to an irrelevant direction, but it coincided with what An Wujiu had in mind. “I noticed you’re wearing a tie and shirt, and you’re much more proper than the rest of us.”

With her flirtatious and teasing banter, her voice did not sound serious.

It was an excellent observation point. An Wujiu silently watched everyone in his view. Wu You didn’t react much, still playing with the Rubik’s cube. Liu Chengwei looked like he was watching a play, giving hints of interest towards the beautiful woman. The elderly man held a pen in his hand as if not paying much attention and thinking to himself. The freckled man with glasses glanced timidly at Zhong Yirou.

Observing eyes fell on the face of the mechanical Avalokitesvara across from An Wujiu, only to find that the other person was motionlessly facing him with the image of Avalokitesvara and seemed to be staring at him.

The beauty opened her mouth to flatter. Although cautious, Yang Ming subconsciously adjusted his tie knot across from her. “It’s not an important job, just an ordinary office worker.”

“Office workers are good,” Zhong Yirou said, smiling brightly, “Our society wants to be office workers, but I don’t know how highly educated we need to be. There’s just so much competition.” She seemed to feel hot and deliberately untied the clasp of her cheongsam. “When I saw you, I thought you looked like a white-collar worker, the kind… in the financial industry.”

An Wujiu stared at Yang Ming. He was evidently less cautious. His ever-taut lips lifted slightly, and his bony cheeks looked plump and moist by the flattering remarks. “It’s alright. It’s alright. It’s not so exaggerated.”

He did not deny Zhong Yirou’s guess.

Aware of this, An Wujiu tilted his head in thought, but when he regained his senses, he found the masked man gazing at him.

Wu You didn’t stop playing the Rubik’s Cube beside him and only mumbled, “Who’d come to the Altar if they were doing well…”

On the left of Wu You sat an old man who had been silent for a long time. The man’s platinum-colored hair was withering, and he looked at least sixty years old, but his physique was still impressive. An Wujiu didn’t notice him until he opened his mouth.

“There’s only three and a half minutes left. Why don’t you guys talk more about the game?” He had a western face and a mouth that appeared to be talking in French, but like Ueno, they could hear Chinese.

The name projected in front of him was [Old Yu], with no foreign name.

“Talk about what?” Yang Ming’s tie was crooked, and he glanced at Old Yu. “Could it be you want us to report all the numbers we need to fill in and then write after you have calculated them?”

“Can you do the calculations?” Liu Chengwei laughed loudly.

The expression on Yang Ming’s face was very relaxed, and he clasped his hands together. “Actually, this is just a warm-up game. As long as the winner is not An Wujiu, it doesn’t matter who. It’ll be dangerous for everyone if he gets the official game advantage.”

An Wujiu stayed silent.

“I agree.” Liu Chengwei cracked his fist and suggested, “Or we can tie this kid up and keep him from answering the question so he can’t get the advantage.”

The noise in his brain became abnormally loud.

Old Yu hesitated. “That…isn’t that a foul?”

Zhong Yirou raised an eyebrow. “The person who commits the foul will die, just like the guy a while ago, or be pushed into the punishment stack ①. Be careful. Few people can come out of that hellish place with a sane mind. However…”

She shrugged. “If it can eliminate a dangerous element, I have no problem.”

The competitors brazenly discussed their “disposal methods,” but An Wujiu didn’t pay attention. There was a countdown-like beeping sound in his mind.

The sound stopped, but after the brief pause, a shrill noise forced him to lower his head. The next second, he heard an insubstantial electronically simulated female voice. Its content was incomplete, and it said only a few intermittent sentences.

[It’s not too late……]

[Trust me, you will find all your memories.]

[…must survive. Come, see me alive.]

[You need companions, must never be alone.]

The sound abruptly ended, like a terminated ECG monitor, leaving only the single sound of eternal rest.

Were these the final words his mother left?

Where were his memory chips?

An Wujiu held his head with his hands and gasped for breath, but that voice never appeared again.

On his severely injured hand, a digital imprint appeared on the back of the hand, looking like the number—99.

His memory loss was contrived.

Wu You noticed that something was amiss with him. “What’s gotten into you?”

“Leave him alone,” Yang Ming sneered, “He has started to act again.”

He smiled and rolled up the cuffs of his shirt. “The game is about to start. Anyway, it’s a matter of luck, so let’s not dwell on it.”

Was it? An Wujiu raised his head.

Luck had nothing to do with this game.

But intelligence.

Not only was he aware of this, but he believed Yang Ming also knew it.

Just by listening to the rules, this guessing game seemed to be about who could happen to hit the average, but essentially, it was a battle of intelligence and prediction.

If the rest of his memory system was not too biased, the game was a model of the “beauty contest game”② born from economics.

The process of choosing the mean was like betting on the winner of a beauty contest. The most important thing was not whether she was the most beautiful in their hearts but the most beautiful in nearly everyone’s hearts. The bet was not the game itself but the psychology of the other contestants.

Under Zhong Yirou’s flattery attack, Yang Ming did not deny his identity in the financial industry and continuously exaggerated the element of luck. He had at least an 80% chance of knowing this theory.

An Wujiu’s face showed little emotion, staring at the screen with black words in front of him.

“Final thirty seconds. The countdown begins.”


He was aware of his current situation. If what Yang Ming said before was true, according to his description of the previous game, it seemed that he was not the type to fight alone. If this were the case, even if he could win the warm-up game and gain an advantage, he would become the target of public criticism in the official game. With such a severe injury, he may not last long.


Based on the unknown competition format, he cannot guarantee that he will survive as a public target.

There was no benefit to being sharp-edged.


It would be hard to dispel the others’ fears.

The best approach was to deflect the fear.


The author has something to say:

① A stack is a data structure. A linear structure that inserts and deletes data at the same end. First, push the data in, and then pop it out.

② Beauty contest game, also known as the “beauty guess,” was put together by economist Keynes in “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money.” “Professional investment may be likened to those newspaper competitions in which the competitors have to pick out the six prettiest faces from a hundred photographs, the prize being awarded to the competitor whose choice most nearly corresponds to the average preferences of the competitors as a whole; so that each competitor has to pick, not those faces which he himself finds prettiest, but those which he thinks likeliest to catch the fancy of the other competitors…”

Translation of our MC’s and ML’s names:

An Wujiu (安无咎): 安 – Safe; in good health, 无咎 – Without blame

Shen Ti (沈惕): 沈 – Liquid; to pour, 惕 – Fearful; respectful

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  1. The 咎 in 安无咎(An Wu Jiu) which can mean blame or fault
  2. Means “I, your father” and is an arrogant way to refer to yourself

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