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The Last Question > The Last Question by Isaac Asimov - May's read for June 7th chat

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message 1: by Kc (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kc | 126 comments Mod
We are discussing this on Saturday 7th June (Sunday for NZ) 21:30 to 22:30 (UK time) using Twitter, hash tag #edcmchat

It is available quite widely http://www.multivax.com/last_question...

Please post any thoughts, themes and so on below.


message 2: by Stephane (last edited Jun 05, 2014 10:52AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Stephane (st2phane) | 28 comments Mod
Less than one week to go before discussing the novel.

As I finished it, I came to an article from h+, the transhumanism magazine, called "religion in the age of Cyborgs". It's maybe not totally related, but could give some inspiration for discussion.

Have you already read it and found some interesting themes ?


message 3: by Kc (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kc | 126 comments Mod
I'll read it over the next day or two and post some ideas then.
K


message 4: by Rick (new)

Rick Bartlett | 31 comments Mod
I'll be on a plane tomorrow flying back from holiday. I'll have to catch the discussion when I get home.
I read the story and thought it had a very clever twist.

My discussion question is: How does the difference between "God" as a machine vs the traditional view of God as a being affect you? Which one is more appealing? If either.

Have a fun time on Saturday!


message 5: by Ping (last edited Jun 06, 2014 06:35AM) (new)

Ping (pingl) | 61 comments AhaHaHa! Splendid & funny - Asimovic cosmic humour < not a spoiler I hope; just sharing the pleasure of having reached the end of a great short read that has displaced a previous impression of Asimov's work as too sci-fi-ey (glitzy ships-in-space...).
Glad it wasn't too techie :+)
Thanks again Rob for putting it in the bookshelf!

Thanks Stephane for the article: interesting framing of a current consciousness as theoretic culture with exographic revolution. Found a couple of eye-catching articles looking up 'cyborg': http://io9.com/the-first-person-in-th... (categorised under 'posthumanism') & http://www.theverge.com/2012/8/8/3177... re: human-machine intersections.

I wonder if the abstract of Stephane's article-author's PhD resonates with Rick's question ie. http://heterodoxology.com/2013/01/09/....

Some themes that arise from the tale:
- human existence/development/memory/intelligence/telepathy &/or human-machine interfaces eg. technological singularity within/& natural history / universal entropy
eg. Google and the World Brain (prefaced by H.G. Wells) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vxIve..., http://www.worldbrainthefilm.com/, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01qxmqc
- human desire for immortality / insecurity about finality; transhumanism
- effects & options of human resource/energy consumption & (over)population
- innate/intuited deep-seated human feelings of planetary home
- suspension of disbelief/assumption of/about human/machine incorruptibility/perfection/purity.

Found this 9:37min https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edI4n... of The Last Question (found via https://twitter.com/DefyingOdds1/stat...)
+
http://www.computerworld.com/s/articl...
+
http://www.theguardian.com/science/he...
.


message 6: by Anne (new)

Anne Robertson | 14 comments an interesting read. plenty of themes to think about. the video misses some of the stages and thus, for me doesn't quite capture the essence of the story. however, it is nicely produced. the idea of man as part of a whole, part of a greater (?) being or essence strikes me at the end. but is man in control or is the machine? the machine is always being questioned for the answer, their reliance on it to provide the answer is parallel to our reliance on some higher order being too answer our questions. if man a thinking being why not work out the answer himself and why be content to move on when the answer doesn't arrive? lots to think about... great read. have a look to at Asimov's the last answer http://www.thrivenotes.com/the-last-a...


message 7: by Kc (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kc | 126 comments Mod
I was blown away by the story - I need to re-read it later on today for it to sink in! There were so many themes crammed into this short text. Consciousness, the environment, our position in the cosmos, AI, existentialism...

Thanks indeed Rob for putting this on the list!


message 8: by Stephane (last edited Jun 07, 2014 07:39AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Stephane (st2phane) | 28 comments Mod
Here are some suggestions for later. Feel free to correct, adjust them if it seems a bit clumsy.

Rick brings the first question for our discussion :
1. How does the difference between « God » as a machine vs the traditional view of God as a being affect you ? Which one is more appealing ?

Here we can discuss Anne's idea :
2. Does the reliance on technology have some similarities with the traditionnal relation on some higher order ?

Ping and Kirstie have noted various different themes in this story. Maybe this next questions have some resonance with them :

3. Can we always expect that a satisfying technological solution could answer the deferral of our responsabilities in terms of management of ressources ?

4. Which qualitative perception of our environnement and of our self (conscience, spirituality) can bring the interconnection of humanity ? (I was although thinking about the term of noosphere)

5. In your opinion, is space colonization ineluctable ? What are the reasons that should lead to this ?


message 9: by Stephane (last edited Jun 07, 2014 12:57PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Stephane (st2phane) | 28 comments Mod
Just finished to watch the anime serie "Serial Experiments Lain". It seems connected to me to "The last question" as it interrogates the concept of God and the connection of conscious in a wired system : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_E... and for the episodes : http://www.goodanime.net/category/ser...


message 10: by Ping (new)

Ping (pingl) | 61 comments Anne wrote: "...the video misses some of the stages and thus, for me doesn't quite capture the essence of the story. however, it is nicely produced."

I'd only watched the start of it :( thought twas worthwhile sharing a story-relevant creative effort, it being on the Internet :)


message 11: by Ping (last edited Jun 07, 2014 03:02PM) (new)

Ping (pingl) | 61 comments Really ponderous questions and discussion Stephane! ~ Thanks so much for a rich tapestry.

Looking forward to energy of a new moderator for our next #edcmchat on July 5th for Ken Liu's Mono no Aware (I think it means a Feeling/Awareness for Things or something like that, & 2013 Hugo award for Best Short Story): hope you have fun reading & please do share your thoughts in https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/....


message 12: by Asta (new)

Asta | 18 comments Mod
Great story!
It's a pity I was not able to participate in the chat (with a 1 month old baby, I was too sleep deprived).
I have just read your discussion - so many good insights and new questions.
Asimov is one of my favourite sci-fi authors, especially for his short stories!


message 13: by Kc (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kc | 126 comments Mod
Congratulations on your new baby :-)


message 14: by Ping (new)

Ping (pingl) | 61 comments Asta wrote: "Great story!
It's a pity I was not able to participate in the chat (with a 1 month old baby, I was too sleep deprived).
I have just read your discussion - so many good insights and new questions.
..."

Hope you & baby have had good sleep since :)


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