Stephen Byerley, now World Co-ordinator and the chief executive of the entire planet, is disturbed at certain signs of instability in the global economy. The economy has proven so difficult to manage that its control was long since handed over to particularly advanced positronic brains, the Machines, and so there should be no instabilities. And yet there are. Byerley interviews the heads of the world’s different regions and finally Susan Calvin and is vaguely disturbed with her final answer—that it doesn’t matter. The Machines are in charge now. They know what they’re doing, and what they are doing is providing for a better, more wonderful future than humanity could ever manage on its own.
Although this is the last story in I, Robot, and something of a fitting climax because of its golden picture of a world dominated by the Three Laws, I still consider it a weak and largely uninteresting story. There’s no action, there’s no movement. The world Asimov shows is is reasonably well-rounded, but the overall sense of ennui and helplessness (if not despair) detracts. Moreover, this story is particularly difficult to merge into the “main” Asmiov future history time-line, which have no Machine-dominated Earth. (The explanation being, one assumes, that eventually they turned themselves off in the better interests of human-kind; I tend to frankly wish that R. Daneel Olivaw would have had as much sense.)