Stanisław Lem - Forum

English => Forum in English => Wątek zaczęty przez: innate w Wrzesień 18, 2005, 06:17:46 am

Tytuł: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: innate w Wrzesień 18, 2005, 06:17:46 am
None of the writings of the past fifteen years are available in English. Has he gone in new directions in his essays, found new preoccupations that might surprise us? It sounds like he writes that the world is going to hell as quickly as it can, which, in itself, would not necessarily be a new revelation...
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Wrzesień 19, 2005, 10:53:09 pm
You are impressive. Up to this moment, I started 11 topics (having above 1500 posts sent), and You started fifth, having 34 posts ::)

This proves Your creativity.

As for the Lem's essays, they continue thoughts started in Summa Technologiae, which I havent read ::) (I refuse to, because my coleagues from Polish section tell me that I ought to read it - and I like figthing them ::)  ).

I 've read "Bomba Megabitowa" (Megabyte Bomb)  lately, but haven't finished (it put me to sleep a few times), though I intend to read it through one day. It mainly concens Internet and virtual reality. Lem deals with various ways in with the Net can become a threat for human... And of course, that's not all.

For the comprehensive info about Lem's essays, ask dzi.
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: innate w Wrzesień 20, 2005, 02:58:50 am
Heh. Not enough people in English to keep threads going, so...

As Ritch posted recently, we'll be lucky if we even get Summa someday.
(The greatest mystery, btw, is why we don't have Wizja lokalna).

I'm surprised that so little has come of virtual reality so far.
Sex is a strong force to drive technology, after all.


[If "byte" is ,,bit'', then what is "bit"? Maybe ,,byt''?]
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Wrzesień 20, 2005, 03:12:44 am
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[If "byte" is ,,bit'', then what is "bit"? Maybe ,,byt''?]


Ups! I apologize, I screwed up. "bit" (Polish) is exactly the same as "bit" in English. And English "byte" translates to Polish "bajt".

So, the title of the book "Bomba Megabitowa" should sound "Megabit Bomb".

I made the mistake probably because of the fact the word 'megabyte' is used more frequently than 'megabit'.

Sorry.


Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Wrzesień 20, 2005, 03:14:29 am
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I'm surprised that so little has come of virtual reality so far.
Sex is a strong force to drive technology, after all.


Hah, You know, them virtual girlies...  are not exactly touchable literally ::)

Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: innate w Wrzesień 20, 2005, 06:29:54 am
Ah, but then you don't need to think about disease, or the expense of children, or the expense of dinners, or the wasted hours upon hours spent sitting in clothing stores and shoe stores!

Yeah, the tech's not there yet. I was in somebody's lab one day, some years ago, where they did haptics work. You could hold a little stick and move it around, and the gears or whatever would resist it being pushed into a certain region of space. I think it was an imaginary cube. Anyway, one could argue that human sex does indeed generally have to do with poking things with sticks, but somehow... somehow not all poking of things with sticks is quite the same...

As for the net, there are dangers. It becomes easier for powers (governmental,  corporate, etc.) to find out whether we hold the wrong opinions, for one thing.
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: yourheroisyourself w Wrzesień 20, 2005, 11:47:05 am
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None of the writings of the past fifteen years are available in English. Has he gone in new directions in his essays, found new preoccupations that might surprise us? It sounds like he writes that the world is going to hell as quickly as it can, which, in itself, would not necessarily be a new revelation...


Fortunately some of them are available in german. You find several on

http://www.heise.de/tp/

Mostly I would say none of the essays are surprising, but refreshing with some thoughts. He's still important in saying important stuff, but don't expect too much ;)
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Deckert w Wrzesień 20, 2005, 09:32:35 pm
Well, well, well I think innate has just touched the subject we've been disscussing in Polish section. I read "Bomba Megabitowa" (BM) and enjoyed it. Lem's attitude to technology and development is rather negative and we can read a lot about it in BM. Here are the main ideas from the book:

-  Internet is swarming with rubbish and there's actually nothing we can do about it. The only solution would be to build some A.I. Systems controlling the content of each piece of information. Lem is particularly afraid of what Internet is used for today.
Here is the quote straight from the book (for the purpose of this thread I translated it into English): "I think that collisions of technological progress and cultural and religious traditions are inevitable". This was said in the context of how we see pornography. In Muslim culture women are not allowed to show faces. It's forbidden - but not in the Internet. So the problem is the limit of pornography - what is and what is not allowed to see. Lem says that whatever we do, we forbid too much or too few. There has to be kinda borderland, a place accessible by artists for instance. But this special zone will be considered obscene by quite a few people.

- Internet is a new form of entertainment. Lem mentioned the book "Amusing ourselves to death" by Neil Postman where we can read that 90% of TV programs are filling our brains with nothing but a lowest level nonsense. According to Postman it's a great leap back into past when there was no writing, no science nor philosophy - generally no thinking. Lem invented his own destription of this process as: "Entering the Electronic Stone Age" :-)

- The Mind. It's useless to make any kind of medical experiments on living brain to figure out how mind is working. This will lead us to nowhere just like building an electronic copy of the real brain. It's been disscussed widely in Polish and English section.

- Internet games. Lem has a remarkably negative attitude to computer games. Even if the virtual world is better then ours, sooner or later we will have to go back to where we belong - to the worse world. So it's better to stay where we are...

- Cybermachia (the cyberwar) - it's hard to say nowadays whether there's already a major cyber conflict in progress. We can't say if any organization prepares the ground for such a warfare either. Is it good that computer science development is so fast? We can't be sure whether viruses striking our bank systems or PCs are just simple jokes made by script-kiddies or already a serious trial before the main offensive...

- A.I. - the Artificial Intelligence. If A.I is finally discovered, humankind will enter the new age flooded with brand new dangers. A.I. just like us, can be manipulated, deceived, annoyed... The considerations on the A.I. are pretty much scattered over many chapters.

Obviously there are many, many other philosophical and scientific issues described in BM. Above I gave You just a brief extract of what I remember...

CU
Deck

Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: innate w Wrzesień 21, 2005, 01:10:45 am
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Fortunately some of them are available in german.

It's fortunate for Germans, at least!

Deck:

Technology acts as an amplifier. It gives us new ways to obtain what we already want. Most people have, always have had, and always will have low aims, and they are going to put technology to mindless or harmful uses. People with loftier goals also require technology in order to reach them.

I don't know whether the technological arms race is tending more toward the benefit of the prey or that of the predator, but a world where nobody's lofty goals can be met isn't much good.

Cytuj
I think that collisions of technological progress and cultural and religious traditions are inevitable.

My feeling is that it would be a good thing for cultural and religious traditions to be shaken up.

I don't even know what to think about AI. So much was expected to happen decades ago, but I never hear of anything much materializing.

Thanks for writing all of that out for me...
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Socrates w Wrzesień 22, 2005, 06:36:37 pm
I agree with innate.  The problem with blaming the internet for humanity's woes and troubles is that it's the people who choose what to view and see, not the other way around.  Internet is not pushed onto peope - hell, you have to pay for it to get it.  Being in China right now is a bit of an eye-opener - everything is magnified here.  There are people who wake up at 5:00 am and study Tai Chi, Kung Fu, and play soccer, while others spend more that 18 hours a day in internet bars playing themselves silly on Counter Strike or whatever the "in" games are.  Some people have a strong will, some don't - should we limit the internet to "hold the weak ones by the hand" and not have them do what they will do anyway in some way or another?  Censorship will not do, methinks.
Cheers from Harbin,
Socrates
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Socrates w Wrzesień 22, 2005, 06:44:22 pm
Oh yeah, religion is only good for the festivities it affords us.  Life would be a bit empty without Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, or Ramadan.  But God's death was pronounces sometime in the late 1800's, and the religious part of religion should have followed Mr Big to the grave as well.  As for tradition - the same.  Think in modern terms, celebrate in old.  That is the only way to go.
Cheers, Socrates
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Wrzesień 22, 2005, 09:41:11 pm
Well, Socrates, You deserve a serious nutkick! Where da heck is my promised postcard?  Now that You're in China, make it from there then :) Hm... while we're at it, You coulda sent me some kind of a... bhm... a bike or what? What cheap do they have there? ::) ::) :)

Seriously, you guys...  

Don't fail me again... ::)
(Asteroids do not concern me, admiral. I want the ship, not excuses!)
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Socrates w Wrzesień 23, 2005, 06:36:52 pm
Well, I can feed myslef on foods you've only dreamed of for 5 Yuan a meal, which is about 90 cents Canadian.  I can buy a beer (good one too - Harbin beer used to be a German brewery) for 2 Yuan.  Labour is cheep too, but I don't know if I can send you a chinese factory worker or two by mail - they may object somewhat.  But worry not, a postcard you will have.  Send me your address again - I kinda lost it in the general confusion of the past few months.
Ming Tien Tien,
Socrates
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Wrzesień 23, 2005, 06:42:45 pm
Ok, rightaway. Make it two women then, knock'em out, pack'em up, send'em ::)

Tytuł: Re: directions after abandoning fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: innate w Październik 01, 2005, 08:40:29 am
I was just thinking about the web a bit more. When governments wish to wage wars, they need to demonize/dehumanize the citizenry of the other nation. As images become more readily available, life becomes more difficult for the propagandists. And, if people can speak for themselves, in their own words, particularly if in a tongue that is widely understood...

(Besides the growing likelihood of "Well, hell, I know some people who live in [wherever].")

A significant fraction of humanity will forever be nationalist scum, but I think there are a lot of people who only know what the complicit media feeds them.
-----
And to touch upon the original topic for a moment, I suppose "abandon" wasn't strictly correct. There was the Ostatnia podróż in the nineties and I think at least one other story at some point...
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Deckert w Październik 01, 2005, 03:18:44 pm
To innate according Your considerations on web:

The Internet as a warfare medium has already been used in the American invasion in Iraq. At that time the US Army utilized the Internet only for very specific purposes and the main one was to assure a communication link between particular headquarters... or something. Eventually the bandwidth turned out to be the main problem: communication links were overloaded with tons of unnecessary information like redundant maps, coordinates and so on. So the Internet was rejected to be used as a medium for modern war actions. I guess it will be used in future because the Internet has a big potential in itself. It is available almost everywhere now, and the amount of different kind of devices even domestic ones, which are already accessible over the Internet, is increasing. This might be a great aim for modern or future terrorism. Hospitals, police departments, educational facilities all connected to the world wide network.

Of course the internal network (the Intranet) of important organizations like military ones will be well protected from public access or even completely inaccessible for common people. But all those organizations will also have a public access area networks which will be, by definition, vulnerable and exposed to a variety of modern viruses, trojans, hoaxes - you name it.

So the Internet is a playground for everyone - good and bad guys. This is what Lem depicts in "Bomba Megabitowa". And I agree with it. Nowadays we become more and more dependant on computers and global networks. Obviously this global communication is absolutely the greatest virtue of the Internet. But on the other hand we work on computers which are outfitted with bunch of security services like personal firewalls, spyware protection software, anti-viruses, and all this is because the Internet is filled with number of dangers and pitfalls. They were unknown in the past since the Internet was not that popular. I would say that today the Internet reflects the world that surrounds us with all its virtues and drawbacks - it's due to us - men. This conslusion is consintent with what Socrates has already stated.

Can WWW be used for propaganda? Of course it can and in fact it is! I'm not gonna list examples now, but I have a question to Socrates. Are there any limitations put on the Internet in China? I heard a lot about it from TV and some magazines.

CU
Deck
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: innate w Październik 01, 2005, 07:39:15 pm
Connecting everything and thereby making sensitive information accessible by accident is definitely dangerous. Not only does most software suck, but most authorized users are not very competent--and certainly don't take their responsibility very seriously.

And lack of genetic diversity (most people using exactly the same software, and, in any case, interoperable protocols and similar algorithms) is risky (and even much more so in modern agriculture). Something finds one little weakness...

As for China, the worst part of the censorship matter is that it has required the help of various large corporations who never have a thought for ethics when cash is involved. (Microsoft and Yahoo have been in the news recently for this reason, but Cisco has to be singled out for doing so much damage so enthusiastically).
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Deckert w Październik 01, 2005, 08:39:33 pm
Cytuj
And lack of genetic diversity (most people using exactly the same software, and, in any case, interoperable protocols and similar algorithms) is risky (and even much more so in modern agriculture). Something finds one little weakness...


Yep, as You can see the generally positive idea of having one unified communication system can be warped and utilized against us. Pure human nature...

Cytuj
As for China, the worst part of the censorship matter is that it has required the help of various large corporations who never have a thought for ethics when cash is involved. (Microsoft and Yahoo have been in the news recently for this reason, but Cisco has to be singled out for doing so much damage so enthusiastically).


I asked the question about China because I'm not sure if their censorship is really that hard. We listen to information that some special Internet activities are forbidden in this country while in fact people do whatever they wanna do. I just wanted to know if this is true or not.

CU
Deck
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Socrates w Październik 02, 2005, 08:08:42 am
Hey Deckard,
China is one big free-for-all.  There are a few things you are absolutley forbidden to mention - certain names, certain organizations, certain provinces which want to seperate, etc - but everyone does it in private anyways.  The way it works here, if you don't go out of your way to make sure that everyone knows your displeasure with something, then everything is ok.  As for the internet - sorry gotta go for now.  Will finish in a few days.
Cheers, Socrates
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Socrates w Październik 03, 2005, 06:01:38 am
the internet is widely available (here in Harbin), and many people use it regularly.  I am able to access Yahoo, Google, and every site I tried freely and without any difficulty.  It costs about 2 RMB per hour at an internet cafe - many students play games such as CS or FF for 3 or 4 hours every day.  Again, if one isn't stupid - that is, if one doesn't post certain messages on certain messagboards, etc - then one can use the internet without any problems.  Of course, I don't know about other places and other cities - China is so big that one cannot possibly speak about the entire country.  Each city is a world onto itself.
Cheers, Socrates
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Deckert w Październik 03, 2005, 10:26:24 am
OK. Thanks Socrates.

CU
Deck
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Deckert w Październik 03, 2005, 03:31:43 pm
Actually I've asked that question about censorship in China, because I read a brief report in certain magazine on countries where people are not allowed to use the Internet. China was on that list. There was also something about what innate had said, that big American IT Companies like Cisco and mainly Microsoft would help Cheenese administration controlling the Internet traffic.

China is becoming one of the most important players on the economical, political and military scene, that's why I wasn't surprised that "The Internet Prohibition" in this country wasn't real. Of course, as Socrates had already said, we may expect certain districts of that country to have a lot more restricted Internet access - but this is not a factor. This situation is rather clear - if they wanna increase their significance on the international stage they MUST have "Open Internet".

CU
Deck
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: innate w Październik 03, 2005, 10:01:57 pm
Is free access to information for a nation's citizens required in order to have economic importance? I've worried that friendliness with corporations might be all that is needed.

I've heard that one of the ways that China is important is that a huge number of dollars are held there--that it's been worth the effort thus far to keep the US going economically because Americans buy so much from China. I'm no economist, though.
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Październik 04, 2005, 01:45:41 pm
Americans are not alone - everybody buys stuff from China, and any company would love to have a production facility there, because of the low labour price.

I admit that this country both fascinates and frightenes me. The latter because I've recently read an article about the birth regulation procedures there,and part of the methods... was far from being humane. Of course I understand that they need birth control; nevertheless...
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Deckert w Październik 04, 2005, 04:18:33 pm
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Is free access to information for a nation's citizens required in order to have economic importance? I've worried that friendliness with corporations might be all that is needed.


I admit that You may be right about this one. My previous sentence about "Open Internet" sounds better in the context of Your friendliness with corporations.  ;)


CU
Deck
Tytuł: Re: directions since the abandonment of fiction
Wiadomość wysłana przez: innate w Październik 04, 2005, 09:20:35 pm
I was trying to say that the US hasn't yet had to face the consequences of its huge national debt because Asian nations hold a lot of treasury bonds and things. People worry about what happens if they decide to sell.

What are their regulations regarding births nowadays? I'd often heard of the one child policy and the incredible amount of infanticide in the 1970s or thereabouts.  Apparently, the government had brought about the population crisis by putting strong incentives in place in the 50s for people to have as many kids as possible.