2008 was -- and may be -- an important year

2008 is here. Time to elect a President once again. Will it be Hillary? Barack? Rudy? Mitt? Or how about ? But, wait. Maybe we dont really need a formal Presidential election. Isaac Asimovs 1955 science fiction short story Franchise takes place in 2008. Asimov (1920-1992) envisions a future without competitive caucuses, costly primaries, or even elections, because a massive supercomputer, Multivac, can infallibly predict voting outcomes. So why waste precious time and money on actual voting? One person is chosen to be the most representative voter, and the bent of that single Americans mind is meticulously probed with questions like What do you think of the price of eggs? In Asimovs 2008, Multivacs Presidential deduction is based on analyzing an Indiana department store clerks answers and emotional responses after a grueling 3-hour interview. At the end of the computers rigorous interrogation, the bone-weary clerk himself wonders who was elected. But he is thrilled that the sovereign citizens of the first and greatest Electronic Democracy have exercised their free untrammeled franchise through him. Ironically, not a single ballot was cast. Hail to the Chief! If you want to read the entire story, it is contained in the Asimov anthologies Robot Dreams and Earth is Room Enough, and in the first volume of Isaac Asimov: The Complete Stories. To enhance your reading, YouTube.com has some fascinating Asimov videos, including Asimov discussing the value of computers and the history of science fiction. Asimovs Franchise is not the only science fiction to focus on 2008. In Julian Mays Galactic Milieu Series (1987-1996), Earths first contact with an alien race occurs in 2008. Sound far-fetched? Just a few years ago, the possibility of a woman President or a black President would have seemed almost as unlikely. 2008 is not 1984, but it is an important year in science fiction literature. And it may turn out to be a significant year in American history as well. By the way, have you noticed how expensive eggs are now? Do you think that means anything? Happy New Year?

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