My *Politico* piece on Isaac Asimov and the ideologies of the future
Here is the second paragraph of the piece:
In Asimov’s tale [“Franchise”], set in November 2008, democratic elections have become nearly obsolete. A mysterious supercomputer said to be “half a mile long and three stories high,” named Multivac, absorbs most of the current information about economic and political conditions and estimates which candidate is going to win. The machine, however, can’t quite do the job on its own, as there are some ineffable social influences it cannot measure and evaluate. So Multivac picks out one “representative” person from the electorate to ask about the country’s mood (sample query: “What do you think of the price of eggs?”). The answers, when combined with the initial computer diagnosis, suffice to settle the election. No one actually needs to vote.
The full article is here. There is an on-line version of Asimov’s Franchise here.