Lem at Amazon

Stanislaw Lem at Amazon

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new scientist summa technologiae

It is amazing how much Lem got right, or even predicted. This ranges across artificial intelligence, the theory of search engines (he called it “ariadnology”), bionics, virtual reality (“phantomatics”), technological singularity and nanotechnology.

see full article from "New Scientist": A brilliant trip back to the technological future

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image„Summa Technologie” is a „mother-essay” from which most of Lem's later essayistic books stem.    It was written in times when most of the discussed issues – today sometimes quite obvious ones – belonged to the world of fantasy.  The ambition behind this project still amazes, especially if we take into consideration that Lem tried to set up a secular edifice of knowledge, competing in its universalism with Saint Thomas Aquinas and his Summa Theologica.

At the same time the book rivals world futurology  - in the domain of foreseeing future ways of science and technology.  Current generation, interested in biotechnology and informatics, shall find in Lem's “Summa” the project and prophecy of todays' successes of these disciplines.

The English translation (University Of Minnesota Press, 2013) is the work of Joanna Zylinska, professor of new media and communications at Goldsmiths, University of London.

The slogan of this work was "to catch up and outrun Nature". I even considered a subtitle "plagiarisms and creations"...

Summa technologiae written in 1963 was not a novel, but a collection of diverse texts- not necessarily prophecies. The landscapes of the future enclosed in Summa can be compared to a guide for mountain climbing in the Alps. The author of the guide does not claim that every climber must reach all peaks - just as a person in a restaurant is not required to order all dishes.

1. Dilemmas

  Talk about the future. But isn't talking about future roses at least an inappropriate occupation for someone lost in the highly inflammable forests of the present? And the investigation of the thorns of these roses, the search for the problems of our great-grandchildren, while we cannot even deal with today's abundance of problems, does such scholasticism not border absurdity? If only we had the justification of searching for means to strengthen our optimism or of doing it for the love of truth, clearly visible in a future without storms, even literally taken, after the possibility of climate control.