A (very) short science fiction (6 pages) by Isaac Azimov is available under “Course Documents.” The title of this fiction is “The feeling of Power.” Read this fiction and share your comments, thoughts, likes and dislikes. To get the full grade (10 points) for this assignment, You should have at least five postings (one main postings and at least four replies). Your main posting must be at least 400 words, and your responses or replies should be more than just “I agree” or “I disagree.” If you agree or disagree you should justify why or why not.
This assignment worths 1% of the total grade for the course.
30 March 2018
The Feeling of Power
The short story ‘The feeling of Power’ by Isaac Asimov is a short science fictions story that show men‘s dependence on technology. Written in 1958 it seems the prediction of replacing our minds by technology has become so real that we cannot do without.
The story starts with a setting at the New Pentagon where Generals and Congressmen are trying to replace computers used in controlling weapons by cheaper ones in their war against Deneb. John Shuman,a computer programmer had brought Myron Aub,a low level technician to the Generals as he thought Aub held the answers to replacing computers used in long range weapons. .Aub is asked several multiplication and division questions which he solves using pen and paper to the amazement of the generals. The Generals rely on computers to solve math problems .Using Aub‘s knowledge they create weapons that do not use computers in order to win the war. Aub subsequently commits suicide when he learns that his graphitic knowledge has been used to kill.
Though the story was written back in 1958, it seems like the author was predicting the future, a future that we live today where we rely on gadgets in everything that we do. We use GPS for directions and when we need information, we simply browse the web. In this statistics class we have tools like statCrunch, T83/84 calculators and excel that help us solve math problems instead of working them out manually. This has made society lazy to think and the story depicts this when Congressman Brant is amazed at the ability of Aub to multiply nine times seven without using a computer. The author in the story is trying to make us aware of how technology can easily take over our lives We might not be able to revert back to perform tasks manually and we will have problems in emergencies as shown by the Terrestrial Federation in a time of war,
I liked this story because it gave me an insight on how technology though good can erase the fundamentals and traditional ways of doing things. I could not figure out what the suicide of Aub signifies but this is the part I dislike about the story. The fact that the authorities felt no remorse for the death of Aub is also disheartening especially after he had helped them start graphitics. He had given them power in that they did not need a computer to figure that nine times seven equals sixty-three. That feeling of having acquired knowledge was power unto itself.
“He was only an aging low-grade technician who had long ago failed all tests designed to smoke out the gifted ones among mankind and had settled into the rut of unskilled labor.”
Jehan Shuman was just a regular guy he wasn’t super smart he wasn’t at the ‘top of the class’ but he as reading further into the passage we learn that Shuman blew the minds of the Generals, by teaching them something that was so simple and basic. There were multiple things that really stood out to me when reading this passage.
The first one being that Jehan wasn’t the smartest person out there failing the test that differentiate the ‘gifted’ people and ‘non gifted’ people and yet he was still smart. In a way it represents that exams and test are not accurate. Just because you fail an exam doesn’t mean that you are not smart or gifted, you can still be a smart and gifted person and still fail an exam.
Secondly the Generals, congressmen, and programmer were the top of the top very gifted people and yet they were astonished by the simple piece of paper and math work that Shuman was able to do. This to me represents even when you make it and you are on top, there is always information that can be learned. Not only that but the ‘gifted’ people did not seem to know the basic understanding that Shuman taught them, just because you make the ‘top’ score on an exam doesn’t mean that you are ‘smart’ there is always more to learn. Another important topic that this show is that your peers and anyone really around you all have some information that they can give you and that you can learn from. It is important to listen to people and you might end up learning something that you did not know before.
Thirdly, sometimes we can get a head of ourselves with how technology and computers are easily accessible these days to do the work for us it is still important and vital for us to know the basics and how to do the work ourselves because when we do have the fundamental knowledge it makes understanding the difficult information easier. “The Feeling of Power” to me was pretty interesting to read, I thought that there were many lessons in the short reading that were displayed in an authentic creative way.
My interpretation of the reading is to make us aware and expose the dying skill of computation. Technology is meant to reinforce our prior knowledge and understanding of the matter at hand, not to replace skill. What skills are needed in today’s world? Technolgy is still booming and articficial intelligence makes astonishing breakthroughs, but how necessary is so much modern technology? Are we missing what’s important in life by working ourselves ragged just to have the latest gadget?
The answers to these questions are continous issues and ebbs and flows of consumer demand and societal norms. I personally struggle with trying to prioritize. As a woman who is still trying to figure out what to major in, I can say I am constantly looking for what ‘hot job skills’ are needed, and what will keep me a job. I also want a job that is meaningful and that I am happy with as well as a place I can grow and be comfortable raising a family at the same time. The last I heard ethics play a critical role in the hiring process. Employers want ethical employees they can trust and receive loyalty from.
I like the style that Issac Asimov uses in this writing too. It’s humor is dry, which I like.
Technology aside, the issue of power is the underlying theme. In today’s world, the thought most powerful country is the one with more military power, which is just terrifying to think about. Power should come from education, helping others, and kindness. For some reason, those things are preached but not really the way things work though they should be. In today’s system and fast paced world we are just running the rat race. I am grateful for this reading because it did force me to slow down and really reflect about things. I sometimes rush through our work because time is money, but money isn’t everything. If you can learn to be happy without anything you have conquered the world.
Post # 4
The Feeling Of Power
In the short story “The feeling of power” it shows just how dependent the world is on technology that they weren’t able to calculate a simple equation. Since the first computer has been invented, technology has been developed and re-developed for years that people have not really noticed just how badly they are addicted and heavily dependent on technology they really are. In the story it said that the generals were very impressed when Myron Aub was able to calculate the equation on paper and not on a calculator that they said he had an “unusual gift.”
My thoughts on this story is that I think people should read it for their own good. Now I can see why we need math because then were able to figure it out ourselves instead of having the computer do the work. I mean it’s good to have technology as a source of checking your work but I would feel better if I can do it myself instead of having the computer do all my work. This story taught me how much humans have gotten lazy over the last few generations.
What I liked about this story is that an ordinary person could impress high generals with a simple calculation that is taught in school since kindergarten. I’ve seen a lot of people use their phones to help them figure out math problems and some to even figure out how much their total is going to be in grocery stores. When I see a person who can calculate in their head instead of using their phones, it also impresses me because I tend to use my phone most of the time. I think people have become lazy since technology is a source of convenience instead of putting in hard work for something that can be done easily on a phone.
What I didn’t like in the story is that the generals were putting Aub down because he offered something better, his talent of being able to calculate in his head instead of using technology. Some people in power see that as a threat because they’re not able to offer that up as well so they put people down for something they can’t do. Which says a lot about society. Also the fact that Aub committed suicide because he learned that the work he did was going to be used by the military and I don’t think that’s fair. A person should be acknowledged for their work instead of people of higher power using them for their own gain.