If the machine from Person of Interest remembers absolutely nothing over midnight, shouldn't it repeatedly report the same (both relevant and irrelevant) social security numbers every day (to Finch and Control) until that person is killed or rescued? If it doesn't remember the numbers, it should discover (and report) the same number each day as long as that person fits the search criteria.

Maybe it remembers reported numbers so it doesn't report them again. Why are no reported numbers ever repeated on following days in the show?

  • As I recall when it started it only gave one number a day.
    – Paulie_D
    Feb 12, 2017 at 18:12
  • @Paulie_D Maybe, but the question asks why it doesn't give the same number on the next day, provided they didn't solve the case in a single day and the machine forgets everything every night.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Feb 12, 2017 at 18:14
  • I suppose the had-wavy answer might be that no person survives more than 24 hours after the machine reports them. Control kills them or Finch's team rescues them before their 24 hours runs out. Or maybe repeated reports for a number are cut from episodes because that is not advancing the plot. Feb 12, 2017 at 18:17
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    Highly related - movies.stackexchange.com/questions/52895/…
    – Paulie_D
    Feb 12, 2017 at 18:24
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    I think it is clear that whatever is erased at midnight it a very selective part of what the machine could remember. But it is unclear exactly what, though it appears to be something purely related to the irrelevant list. It is clear that it retains some things or it couldn't learn.
    – matt_black
    Feb 12, 2017 at 21:31

1 Answer 1


Here's how I see it: Each day, the machine calculates probabilities based on various inputs. We aren't privy to what those inputs are. But presumably, one input is "Finch and the team are working on this person," or something to that extent. It doesn't need to remember that because Finch is constantly searching for stuff on his computer and has pictures taped up to his cork board, etc. So I figure an input of "Finch knows about this," probably lowers its urgency, and the machine picks the next highest person on the list.

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