Not sure why, but the following short story “Answer” by Frederic Brown just popped into my head.
Dwan Ev ceremoniously soldered the final connection with gold. The eyes of a dozen television cameras watched him and the subether bore throughout the universe a dozen pictures of what he was doing. He straightened and nodded to Dwar Reyn, then moved to a position beside the switch that would complete the contact when he threw it. The switch that would connect, all at once, all of the monster computing machines of all the populated planets in the universe–ninety-six billion planets–into the supercircuit that would connect them all into one supercalculator, one cybernetics machine that would combine all the knowledge of all the galaxies.
Dwar Reyn spoke briefly to the watching and listening trillions. Then after a moment’s silence he said, “Now, Dwar Ev.”
Dwar Ev threw the switch. There was a mighty hum, the surge of power from ninety-six billion planets. Lights flashed and quieted along the miles-long panel.
Dwar Ev stepped back and drew a deep breath. “The honor of asking the first question is yours, Dwar Reyn.”
“Thank you,” said Dwar Reyn. “It shall be a question which no single cybernetics machine has been able to answer.”
He turned to face the machine. “Is there a God?”
The mighty voice answered without hesitation, without the clicking of a single relay.
“Yes, now there is a God.”
Sudden fear flashed on the face of Dwar Ev. He leaped to grab the switch.
A bolt of lightning from the cloudless sky struck him down and fused the switch shut.
I think I first read this in elementary school while perusing science fiction stories in the school’s library. Brown was best known for mastery of the–truly–short story, especially his surprise endings and this one stuck with me because even though it was just over 250 words, at that age, I never saw that ending coming.
Even though I’m more likely to identify with Deep Thought–a proper parody of the above story, every time someone mentions how lost they’d be without their electronic device or wikipedia, it reminds me of the tale.* Perhaps our growing reliance on technology should be seen less as cultural advancement and more as a big caveat emptor sign hanging over the doorway to the future… or not.
* For a while, we jokingly replaced the word “God” in sentences with “Google” because it seemed that the two terms were interchangeable a lot of the time.