Sunday, August 1, 2021

The Fall of Trantor’s Empire

The age of wars for supremacy in the galaxy is over. The rebellions by various galactic factions have been crushed. The galaxy is unified for all times under Trantor, capital planet of the mighty galactic empire. Under Trantor’s hegemony, there is no possibility of wars and rebellions anywhere in the galaxy. The only sentient beings of the galaxy, the humans, can now look forward to permanent peace and prosperity. But Hari Seldon, mathematics professor at Streeling University on the planet Trantor, has bad news.

Seldon has discovered a science called psychohistory, which uses history, sociology, and mathematical statistics to make large-scale predictions about entities in which very large groups of humans are involved. When he runs his equations of psychohistory on a machine called Prime Radiant, which has been built by his colleague Yugo Amaryl, he is able to predict the brutal historical path that humanity in the galaxy will take in the future. Trantor’s galactic empire is doomed. The central authority in Trantor will collapse. Rogue generals will arise to battle for supremacy. There will be an epic civil war, like none other in the history of the galaxy. Billions of people will die. Trantor, which is home to forty billion people (the elite of the galaxy), will be wiped out. The annihilation of Trantor will lead to the eruption of rebellions by regional barons in several parts of the galaxy. The galaxy will become divided once again.

For his dire predictions Seldon earns the nickname Raven. Centuries later it was discovered the process of decline and fall of Trantor was following the exact pattern that Seldon had predicted. This scenario is from Issac Asimov’s five books of the Foundation series. I think the prediction of the future of human societies is impossible because complex dynamic systems are inherently unpredictable— in such systems changes, which seem minor from a contemporary perspective, can lead to large-scale and totally unexpected consequences in the future. But Asimov’s Foundation series is very entertaining science fiction.

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