Science fiction story where people can't do math in their heads

Does anybody know the story I’m talking about. Apparently people are completely dependent on calculators, but there’s one guy who can do math in his head and he’s regarded as a curiosity.

sounds like one of Asimovs Multivac stories.

Sounds like reality. I was very good in math in school, and now it takes me minutes to figure out how much to tip.

I remember that. I beleive it wa an Asimov story. The gist of it was that the military found this janitor who was able to do math in his head and complicated math on paper. They were going to use him to train others to do the same thing. They were going to be their secret weapons since they wouldn’t have to be inconvenienced out in the field by all the bulky electronics that others needed to do math. Can’t remember the title though.

I don’t recall the title, but it was definitely an Asimov short story.

The military was hoping to use “manned missles” instead of computer-guided ones, since they would be cheaper.

If memory serves, it was [The Feeling of Power]( Feeling of Power) by Asimov. Except I don’t think the protaganist was a janitor, but a low level clerk.

Per Northern Piper here is the story itself
The Feeling of Power by Isaac Asimov
Here is my favorite quote from that classic story

That was a great story. It makes me feel important every time I do arithmetic on paper :slight_smile:

But do you really want some military idjit sticking you into a missile so you can guide it towards some nice explosive target? :wink:

(I’ve memorized my multiplication tables, so there!)

I remember a Heinlein story about a kid who became invaluable in returning to earth because of his photographic memory. He had looked through the log tables.

I think it’s interesting how the people who spent the most time thinking about the future still got so much wrong.

This reminds me of the story I read of the future when no one could read or write so all the books were on computer and the comp read them to people

A boy had a old one to he tossed and kicked it around
and the last story it told before it died was how the computers were taking over te humans …

It was supposed to be one of those stories that warned people not to be dependant on computers

Little did they know that computers actually encourage literacy and pcs still cant read or play anything automatically …

It seemed for every " tech is our friend " type of writer there was what to me seemed to be anti tech writers who swore it would make us uneducated idiots

Starman Jones…one of the weirdest milieus ever: FTL travel is almost becoming common, yet pilots have to program each jump with slide-rules and logrithmic tables.


Hehe. Reminds me of a sci-fi story I just read where the hero has to make a phone call, but the switchboard operator is unavailable, so he has to operate the switchboard himself. :eek:

As a buddy of mine pointed out, technology has advanced as much as (or more than) those sci-fi authors from the 50s predicted, just not in the way they predicted.

A touch I like from that story: one of the high mucky-mucks, after having the manual arithmetic demonstrated to them, and confirming the answer to some multiplication problem, stares at his calculator, and says something to the effect of “Gee, is it ALWAYS?”.

There was a Cyril Kornbluth story, “The Marching Morons”, where a small cabal of terrified engineers ran the world. The made cars rev louder and recalibrated the speedometers so the masses would think they were driving faster. They were terrified because the masses were never satisfied, never concened with real world limitations, and prone to get pissed off easily. So essentially they ran dog and pony shows for a vast, ignorant consumer empire.

The RW analog for the story is “The Sharper Image”, though the designers haven’t gotten to the “terrified” stage yet. :stuck_out_tongue:

Somhow, I think I may be mixing Kornbluth’s title with somebody else’s plot. Can anybody verify this?

This is really better suited for our forum Cafe Society, at least in part because Ukulele Ike needs a thread not about a current movie or Star Trek.

This is really better suited for our forum Cafe Society, at least in part because Ukulele Ike needs a thread not about a current movie or Star Trek.

Ooooh! A double post by a Mod!

So, I guess Cecil has not passed down his secret of infallibility.

Oh, what a mighty step down from Lord to acolyte! :stuck_out_tongue:

Hehe I just read that Asimov story - its pretty weird, but cool! I am so bookmarking it! :slight_smile:

You’ve got it right, yojimboguy - that’s the Kornbluth story and title.