I am looking for the name of a book (might be a short story) which I have read many years ago. The general plot as I remember it:

  • There is a supercomputer which can predict with good accuracy the human actions in the next several days (after that, it is just less accurate).
  • The computer could alert the police of future possible crimes, and would.
  • The computer alerted the police that a man is going to commit a murder, and the man is placed under arrest.
  • His son goes to a computer-interface station to ask the computer for help.
  • The computer sends the son on a complicated quest.

Spoiler alert: I am giving away plot-sensitive details at the end, so they're hidden below.

- The son kills the computer, and we find out that the murder-alert was actually on the son (but their system automatically redirects it to the parent's name, or just a wrong identification for Mr. Surname).
- We find out the computer planned the whole thing, because it got depressed after dealing with the pain and suffering of the whole human race.

2 Answers 2


From Wiki:

"All the Troubles of the World" is a science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov. The story first appeared in the April 1958 issue of Super-Science Fiction, and was reprinted in the 1959 collection Nine Tomorrows. It is one of a loosely-connected series of stories by Asimov concerning the fictional supercomputer Multivac.

The story synopsys matches your description to a T, including the end.

To confirm his suspicion, Othman asks Multivac a question never previously posed to the vast computer, "Multivac, what do you yourself want more than anything else?". Multivac's answer is succinct and unequivocal: "I want to die."

  • Yes! Yes, it is! I thought I went over all the Asimov stories in Wikipedia, turns out I missed some :) Thanks a lot!
    – Ramon Snir
    Commented May 22, 2012 at 5:59

You might also consider "When Harlie was One" by Gerrold.

  • 4
    Given that the OP has already identified the story, can you give some insight into why you think this deserves their attention?
    – Valorum
    Commented May 16, 2014 at 14:20

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