The Minority Report is a short story written by legendary science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. It is the story of a paradox created by the domino effect of change.
The protagonist of the story is John Anderton, the head of a government bureau known as Precrime. Precrime involves the use of severely mentally handicapped individuals who, through this handicap, have developed latent psychic abilities; Precrime uses these latent abilities inherent in a set of three mentally handicapped individuals to prevent crime before it even starts; their babble is fed to a computer where it is processed and the majority report of what the individuals said is accepted as fact.
The concept of a majority report is based on the idea that one computer or calculating device alone cannot be trusted for the most vital of matters; thus, a second device is used. However, if the two devices produce results that conflict, there is no way to tell which is right, thus a third computing device is used. The majority result of the three devices is the one that is accepted, because it is much more likely that one result is wrong than it is that two results are wrong in an identical fashion..
One day, Anderton reads a particular majority report and sees that he has been predicted to kill someone he has never heard of within a week. The resulting tale investigates the logic behind time anomalies, the trustworthiness of a majority report, and the desire of an overzealous militia to maintain maximum control at all times.
The story raises a number of thought-provoking questions. Chief among them is the question of the validity of a prophecy: how does it become self fulfilling once it has been stated? The book tears into the question by looking into the source of the prophecy and how knowing the prophecy's source can alter the perspective of those who are involved in the prophecy.
Also of interest from a more scientific perspective is the raised question of whether or not a majority report is a truly trustworthy way to solve a problem. A majority report assumes the elements of an answer that are reported by the majority of the devices must be true; what if the nature of the input data of the reports is changed merely by the results produced? It creates an interesting logical cycle with a number of ramifications, which casts an interesting perspective on the absolute "truth" that we sometimes give to computing devices.
In other words: does an existing majority logically indicate the existence of a related minority? The story seems to indicate that this is not always the case.
Phillip K. Dick is a legendary science fiction writer; among his most well-known works are The Man in the High Castle, considered to be the best alternate history novel ever written, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the novel upon which the film Blade Runner was based.
A film based upon this short story, called Minority Report, was released in 2002. It starred Tom Cruise and was a theatrical hit.