Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Asimov the Seer

Isaac Asimov is, among other things, one of the 20th century's greatest science fiction writers.

And science fiction isn't all peaches and cream, a la Gene Roddenberry. Some science fiction was rather dark, and sometimes it presented a neutral ground from which to view the troubles of our own day. Other times it gave a glimpse of what could be, for better or for worse.

I've written recently, and relatively often, about the lack of fundamental math skills so many display. What would happen, though, if no one had any such skills? What if we relied too much on computers?

Asimov gave us a glimpse--complete with Cold War misgivings about the military--back in 1957 in a story called The Feeling of Power.

Even Wikipedia has a summary.

We're far, far removed from the concerns of the story, so it merely makes for entertaining reading. Today, anyway.


maxutils said...

I used to teach that story in my Algebra classes,right after I told them that I wouldn't allow calculators.

socalmike said...

What a great story - I had never read that, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Thanks for the link, and I'm going to pass this on to our Math dept - maybe the AP teachers can do something this week besides play kickball.

PeggyU said...

I have never read that. Will add it to my list. :)

allen (in Michigan) said...

While I loved Asimov when I was a kid "The Feeling of Power" reminds of nothing so much as a late nineteenth-century artist's depiction of aircraft - boat hulls roofed with forests of dinky rotor blades. An amalgam of the comfortingly familiar with a product of a naive understanding of the new.

So here we are in the twenty-first century with ridiculously powerful computers that you can buy for way less then the price of a good, used car and the reason kids don't know fractions has nothing to do with an over-reliance on computers.

So was Asimov right?

Well, yeah but not for the reasons he thought he'd be.

Ellen K said...

You can't claim to love sci-fi if you don't love Asimov.

Cameron said...

I loved the new Star Trek!!! Now I want to go watch the original series.

Darren said...

I liked the story. I didn't like the way Kirk and Uhura were written.