Phillip’s Reading Response #4:The Last Question

This story was very different then the previous stories and films we have analyzed in that this story spans over a very long period of time. I read this story in two parts because of timing and I stopped before the first time jump. It was like reading a boring story and then the juicy part of the story comes and it was like I could not stop reading. It was a very interesting concept that Asimov created with this story.

The story discusses universal computers that can answer questions proposed by humans across time. The first part of the story introduces the computer, which takes place in May of 2061, which is only 41 years from now, but From Asimov’s perspective, this is a hundred years into the future. I feel that this story emulates the human desire to advance ourselves and our technology. It is very clear that the humans in the story seem to want more answers even when most of their questions have been answered.

As the story progresses, there is less of a representation of humanity because it seems that technology has allowed humans to use the power of stars to power the universal computer. This also allowed them to live longer. In the story, it refers to two characters that have lived for over 200 years. This is evident that humans still have a desire to live forever even with a technology that can answer any of their questions. It was very interesting to read this story because as someone has read and seen a lot about time jumps, supercomputers, and AI, it was super cool to read Asimov’s perspective on it because, in his version, it progresses millions of years to the point where humans have merged their consciousness with the supercomputer. This had me intrigued because, in many forms of science fiction, the concept of human consciousness in a computer is usually not too popular among most humans.

One of the most interesting parts of the story is towards the end when the humans began merging with the computer. The line was “One by one Man fused with AC, each physical body losing its mental identity in a manner that was somehow not a loss but a gain.” (Asimov 9).  I found this quote very intriguing because it talks about losing its mental identity, which is something humans today see as going crazy or losing their sanity, but Asimov said “but somehow not a loss but a gain” and I feel that Asimov is trying to show that although humans have given themselves to the Computer, it is still a positive action. I would love to meet this author and ask him a bunch of questions because it really dawned on me about mental health and whether a computer would be helpful in dealing with that.

Overall I think that Asimov created a very unique story that doesn’t share the same concepts as previous stories, but also talks a lot about questionable human qualities and the actions humans would take if their reliance was completely on technology.

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