A Simulation and Critique of Asimov's Foundation Series: What Works and Fails

Mark Ciotola, San Francisco State University

Science fiction author Isaac Asimov proposed a science of history that could also predict the future in his Foundation series of stories and novels. Since this series is being portrayed on Apple TV this year, a scientific understanding and critique is especially timely. This paper summarizes and critiques the series, in terms of what makes sense and does not, drawing on relevant literature and novel analysis involving the disciples of history, psychology and resource economics. The paper then produces simulations of the scenarios in the series, based on the Asimov's raw assertions and then introducing constraints in terms of present day science. The results of the scenarios are compared and discussed. The cultural context of the novels when they were originally written is also discussed, and how that context differs from modern perspectives in terms of neoliberalism, conquest and colonialism.

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 Presented in Session 147. Science, Prediction, and Historiography