The Backlist: Isaac Asimov’s Foundation

I had the fortune of getting a piece published over at The Stake. They are an excellent little pop culture blog about movies, TV, books, etc., with a focus on social and gender issues in entertainment media. Please like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and most importantly, read their articles!

Follow the link to check out my thoughts on an Isaac Asimov classic. Enjoy!

The Stake

by Levi C. Byers

Isaac Asimov_1951_FoundationIsaac Asimov could predict the future. Or at least that’s what it seemed like when fans dug up his essay from 1964 in which he imagined visiting a World’s Fair in 2014. Although the essay can be cherry-picked for inaccurate guesses, there are some stunning predictions about population growth, sight-sound communications, and mechanized labor that solidly reflect facets of our modern world. It appears that Asimov, with the aid of a brilliantly scientific and creative mind, far outshone the powers of any so-called psychic. But how did he do it?

We can start by looking at Foundation, a 1951 novel that is essentially about forecasting the future using an invented field of study called psychohistory. In the book, this socio-mathematical science can model the behavior of human societies, given that the population size is big enough for broad extrapolations to be drawn. By analyzing statistical…

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3 thoughts on “The Backlist: Isaac Asimov’s Foundation

    1. On the whole, not really. Psychohistory relies on huge populations, and I don’t think humans have the wisdom to create those populations without destroying themselves. There are just too many potential catastrophes. I think interplanetary colonization is firmly science fiction. It seems unreasonable to be able to get enough human bodies successfully transported to other planets in order to eventually have multi-planetary societies.

      But I do think it’s a concept worth working toward. All our best sciences (and humanities) should work to predict likely outcomes based on human psychology, and build a world that is the most logical and helpful to the most number of humans and other creatures. All learning is an attempt to figure out the natural world, and moreover, how our brains interact with the natural world. So it’s important to figure out the broad patterns and make educated guesses on which paths are better or worse.

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