The Last Answer is a short story that was published by Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the January 1980 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact. It was later collected in 1983's The Winds of Change and Other Stories, 1986's The Best Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov, and 1986's Robot Dreams.
| This article, The Last Answer, contains spoilers. Be forewarned, plot and/or ending details follow.
This story explores the possible implications of a nearly omnipotent being who has the ability to make copies of human minds. The story describes the experiences of one human, who upon dying, finds his mind now existing as an eternal "electromagnetic nexus" that can do little more than think.
At first, the human mind that finds itself now existing as an "electromagnetic nexus" decides that such an existence is futile and so it decides to try to discover a way to destroy itself. However, the nearly omnipotent being explains the futility of suicide. If, somehow, the human's "electromagnetic nexus" did find a way to destroy itself, then the nearly omnipotent being would re-instantiate the human's mind as a new and improved type of "electromagnetic nexus" that could not be destroyed in that way.
The nearly omnipotent being admits that it does not know everything. In particular, it does not know its own origin nor does it know its future and the possible end of its existence. The human's "electromagnetic nexus" decides to discover how to destroy the nearly omnipotent being.
Asimov then explains that the only concern for the seemingly eternal nearly omnipotent being has been to discover its The Last Answer, that is, how to come to an end.
"For what could any Entity, conscious of eternal existence, want – but an end?"
See also: The Last Question