The Last Question by Isaac Asimov

The Last Question by Isaac Asimov

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The Last Question by Isaac Asimov
Life as we know it comes and goes. Many, many years have past and the world that we are now living in has undergone several transformations. The story of "The Last Question" is about the future of civilization. It explored the technological advancements that will probably occur many years from now. But even if man had developed ways to make things "happen", a question was never answered until man and all other forms disappeared except the AC (automatic computer). "The Last Question" explored the scientific possibilities of life and showed us that even if we have attained the highest technological possibility there is, in this universe nothing can last forever. But with the helped of computers, something can still be done.
"The Last Question" is all about the changes that humans undergo in every life time; it also makes us see that even computers and the universe can undergo several transformations as the years fly by. It also gives technology an importance because it talks about the value of the "automatic computer" to human beings and how it was able to make life better and easier. The story is divided into many sections, and in every section the characteristics of human beings vary and their relationships with their AC's developed. At the first part (year 2061), humans were still independent and can think on their own without depending too much on the Multivac. (¶18) "I don't have to ask Multivac, I know that" said, Adell." (¶2 & 3)Alexander Adell and Bertram Lupov are faithful technicians of the Multivac and even if the Multivac was self-adjusting and self-correcting, they attended to it, fed it with data, adjusted questions to its needs and translated the answers that were issued. This shows that there was still a give and take relationship between the humans and the AC because the AC still needed the humans to be able to process more information and in return the Multivac helped the human beings solved theories and turned them into facts. Because of Multivac, (¶4) man was able to design ships and plot the trajectories that enabled man to reach the moon, Mars and Venus and other planets. Even though the earth was running out of coal and uranium, Multivac helped solved this problem of humans by giving them the fact about the energy resource of the sun and from then on all earth is ran by invisible beams of sun power.

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At the 2nd section, the AC has transformed from (¶58) an ancient and primitive machine taking up a hundred square miles of land to a more personal and complicated Microvac. The characters Jerodd, Jerrodine and Jerrodine I and II are on their way to a new planet called X-23. Because of the much advanced Microvac, interstellar travel was developed and human are now able to transfer from one planet to another which is good because the human race is growing fast. The third section of the story is now getting much advanced because now human are immortal. (¶85) The new Galactic AC that they have, solved many problems including old age and death. Humans also have their own pocket AC's called AC-contact that is only two inches cubed and is connected through hyperspace with the Great Galactic AC that served all man kind. VJ-23X of Lameth and MQ-17J of Nicron, the characters in this section have observed that the population doubles every ten years that is why, human beings at this point not only occupy the other planets but also the other galaxies as well. At this point, humans are now getting worried about running out of energy. The story now gets further interesting in the next section because the minds of humans can now moved and they even do more action than their actual bodies. From occupying the galaxies on the previous section of the story, mankind has now occupied the universe. The AC, now called Universal AC can now hear and respond to humans whichever world or galaxy they belong to like Zee Prime and Dee Sub Wun, the two humans in these section who are curious about the original Galaxy of the race of man. (¶132) The Universal AC said, "MAN'S ORIGINAL STAR HAS GONE NOVA. IT IS A WHITE DWARF.", at this point in time, the readers can now see that the sun had already exhausted its energy and had died down. And again after many years, human have changed and their minds combined forming MAN. The AC, (¶153) now called Cosmic AC surrounded Man and it is now in hyperspace made of something neither matter nor energy. Humans completely depended on their AC in this section. The stars and galaxies are now starting to die down and even if Man was able to build new ones, still the lost was greater. (¶165, 166))Finally after trillion years of lifetime, man and the AC fused together while the stars and Galaxies all died down forming a black, vast space.
In the story, many changes occurred, and I observed that humans transformed not only physically. Their names changed from having unique and complicated names like Alexander Adell to less simpler names like Jerodd, VJ-23X, Zee Prime and finally they were only called as one and that is "Man". Their environment and habitat also changed from living on the planet Earth, to other planets, galaxies and the whole universe in fact, was occupied by man alone because of immortality. The AC also undergone transformations from being a huge machine that still needed man for information and can also serve a few to an AC that can respond to all of mankind and finally to an AC that was more advanced than human itself in the fact that it was the only who existed after human kind was wiped out. But even if all these changes happened in the story, human beings never did get the answer to the question that was repeatedly asked to the AC's for about ten trillion years, and that is the question about the "reversal of entropy". This question worried human beings because they realized that even if they and their AC transforms and be very advanced, they still have to face the fact that nothing in this universe can last forever. This question had been asked from generation to generation and it only shows that even if some things changed, humans still have common insights inside their minds. Sometimes, as the famous line says "History repeats itself". And because of this question, a tension arises in the story especially in the part when the AC will answered them (¶42, 75 & 106) INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER and (¶43 & 155) THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL DATA. This mind boggling answer only adds tension to humans because they did not get the answer that they wanted to know. The tone of the story was serious and the different ideas are presented orderly. But even though the author wanted to create a serious tone, he did not make the story too deep. He made the events light and understandable by the readers. In the first part of the story, the humans asked the question with lightness and levity, they even made a bet (¶38) "I dare you. Five dollars says it can't be done". Humans were not that worried about the future yet because they know that the sun will not run down for billions of years and its energy will still be enough for their lifetime. The irony is that, those humans living billions of years later were now more concerned about "the end of things" because they are beginning to experience and see the slowly dying down of the stars and the over population of the entire universe. They are now more worried because they think that the energy is not enough for them and time is rapidly passing by. From ¶157, "Collect additional data", from this statement, it shows that humans are already panicking about the future and they are forcing the AC to come up with the answer. This scene is far more opposite from the scene when the last question was first raised where the half-drunken computer technicians are still joking around and are lacking seriousness.
As the story develops, the plot of the story remains static. Human beings, even though in different times share the same experiences. Yes, maybe there was transformation among them and their environment changes but still, they have one common question and goal. And that is to solve the problem about the entropy. They have asked the same question over and over again from the time of Adell until the last breath of mankind. I think that even though they have explored all that is to know about technology and science with the helped of the AC like ( ¶54, 59) interstellar and hyperspace travel, (¶83) utilizing stellar energy and even (¶84) immortality they weren't contented on their achievements. Events also happened again and again with just a little difference because for a fact, humans are thinking the same thing in the story (¶30)"Then you know everything's got to run down someday", (¶61) "It will all stop someday, but not for billions of years. Many billions. Even the stars run down, you know." (¶137) "The stars are dying. The original star is dead" and (¶101,154,168) "Can entropy be reversed?, all have the same meaning.
Obviously, science is being explored in this story. It is based on scientific principles, that the (¶26) beginning of the universe came from one original explosion (maybe the Big Bang Theory, where the universe was once a vast black space that exploded into different galaxies, and stars where formed. ) and it'll all have an end when all the stars run down. And at the end of the story, the relationship between science and religion was also explored when the (¶180, 181) AC said "LET THERE BE LIGHT", and there was light. This statement is based on the bible but instead of God making this order, it was the AC. I think that the story is trying to say that the AC replaced the role of God and contradicted the beliefs of our religion, "that God created the world". Because human beings became so intelligent and creative, they were able to build a machine that made all things possible again at the end. I think that because Man has inputted so much knowledge at the AC, it was able to think by itself and became very powerful, even more powerful than God himself because it changed the fact that entropy cannot be reversed. There is therefore, a possibility that even the most complicated things like the stars and universe that have died down already can be built once more which is an idea against our beliefs.
With all the information presented to us in the story, it is pretty obvious that science and technology is the basis of "The Last Question". It explains the possibilities of life and what the intelligence of human can reach. Even if one is truly brilliant, one's mind will not last forever and will probably deteriorate in time just like our world, the sun, the planets, the stars and the whole universe itself. But if one continues explore the endless possibilities and gather enough data, one can answer even the most complicated question of all, just like the AC. (¶172-176) The machine took trillions of years before it was able to come up with the solution but because of its determination, it did not give up and release its consciousness until it finally learned how to reverse the direction of entropy. The story of the "The Last Question" has proven if we have attained the highest technological possibility there is, in this universe nothing can last forever. But with the helped of computers, something can still be done.

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