The Machine That Won the War Questions and Answers
by Isaac Asimov

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What is the irony in Isaac Asimov's short story "The Machine That Won the War"?

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Isaac Asimov's science fiction short story, "The Machine That Won the War" is about a future time when the Earth has just concluded a long war with an alien race called the Denebians. The war is won by Earth and everyone believes the "Multivac" computer was responsible for victory except Swift, Henderson and Jablonsky, who are talking during the course of the story.

The irony is that, despite the modern computer technology in the hands of the Earth men, the actual reason the war ended successfully was simple "intuition" and luck in the decisions made by the three men. The Mulitivac is essentially useless. Henderson, the programmer, feeds the machine the data he thinks is important. Jablonsky further interprets this data and uses "intuition" in waging the war. 

In the final example of man's total luck in winning the war, Swift says he actually flipped a coin to make the important decisions that ultimately provided victory. So, even though Earth had the best technology (the Denebians had nothing as sophisticated as Mulitvac) the reason for the final triumph was all about man's intuition and luck.

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