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I heard this short story read to me many years back. I don't remember many details, but I was hoping I could maybe find it again.

The details I do remember:

  • There are people (I don't remember if they're described as human or not) that create an artificial super-intelligence.
  • This new AI actually brings on a sort of technological singularity and continues to regularly improve and upgrade itself.
  • Eventually, the entirety of the species that created it is gone (I do not remember if this was by the AI's doing or the result of the natural progression of time and/or technology).
  • Long after the extinction of its creators, the AI not only still lives but has improved and upgraded itself to the point that it now exists in a sort of metaphysical state.
  • The story ends with the AI saying the line "Let there be light," implying that the AI has actually become "God."

Like I said, it was a long long time ago, and I didn't even actually read it myself, so these details are very fuzzy and I might be remembering some of them incorrectly. The last detail is the one I remember clearly and I would say is most important.

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    "Frequently someone writes to ask me if I can give them the name of a story, which they think I may have written, and tell them where to find it. They don't remember the title but when they describe the story it is invariably 'The Last Question'. This has reached the point where I recently received a long-distance phone call from a desperate man who began, "Dr. Asimov, there's a story I think you wrote, whose title I can't remember—" at which point I interrupted to tell him it was 'The Last Question' and when I described the plot it proved to be indeed the story he was after." – Valorum Jun 24 at 21:32
  • That would be the one, @Valorum. – Gorgantum Jun 24 at 21:35
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    You'd probably enjoy "Answer" as well; web.archive.org/web/20070304140225/http://www.alteich.com/… – Valorum Jun 24 at 21:43
  • @Valorum Fredric Brown's "Answer" was the first one that popped into my head when I saw the title of this question -- but when I clicked my way in to read the more detailed description of the plot, I knew it was "The Last Question" that Gorgantum had in mind. – Lorendiac Jun 24 at 22:31