Stanisław Lem - Forum

English => Forum in English => Wątek zaczęty przez: Miri w Grudzień 02, 2005, 02:38:47 pm

Tytuł: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Miri w Grudzień 02, 2005, 02:38:47 pm
How scientific are Lem´s texts?

I am writing a book about science in polish and russian science fiction. What about Lem´s scientific ideas? Are they innovative, are they accurate...? Any ideas?

For example: What about the idea  of a machine evolution in the book about the ship investigating the disappearance of its predecessor?

Or what about the time loops in Pirx star diaries?
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Deckard w Grudzień 02, 2005, 03:36:48 pm
One of the greatest science-fiction ideas Lem depicted in his novels was for sure Golem XIV. He described there a supercomputer outfitted with AI algorithm far exceeding our intelligence. The language Golem XIV uses is very strange and complicated, but of course it was intended and was to emphasize his superiority.  
Of course AI hasn't been yet discovered, so Lem's idea is still valid. This is absolutely the best book on artificial intelligence I read, and since I didn't read any other on AI, it must be the best.... ;D ;D ;D Hold on! I just recalled HALL 9000 was very nicely described in 2001 (by A.C. Clarke). Nevertheless Golem XIV is a lot better, 'coz AI wasn't the main plot of Clarke's novel.

OK, but seriously Lem's novel is really good. The author shows the supercomputer to be nearly a God to us, because it's so unique and smart. On the other hand, despite his divine features, Golem XIV had a problem talking to us, 'coz his perception, intelligence, general and detailed knowledge were so radically better then ours, then when he was talking to us, it was for him like talking to kids. I like the part of the book where Golem XIV is trying to explain why talking to us (humans) is so problematic. One of his dreams was to get in touch with another AI computer - Honest Annie (he finally got his chance). Annie was considered to be the only computer on a similar level of development that Golem was.

Lem presumed in his novel, that modern computers would utilize light. We know now, that future computers will be the photonic ones. There are already some prototypes but the exact date of a massive production has not been yet stated. So Lem was right, that photonic computers will be the most efficient ones and they probably be used as first AI machines.

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Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: innate w Grudzień 02, 2005, 08:28:31 pm
Machine evolution: Shifting toward miniaturization and decentralization seems likely enough. When we design things, we use the principles that are important for large-scale terrestrial visual animals (e.g., we keep gravity in mind, but generally not, say, surface tension). Evolution will discover many, many niches to fill.

Golem XIV: I should reread that. I remember disagreeing with some of Golem's claims about human evolution, but I can't remember the details.

Incidentally, Lem seems particularly proud of his predictions on "phantomatics" (virtual reality).
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Miri w Grudzień 05, 2005, 12:28:24 pm
I´ll have to check on Golem. Don´t know it yet.

Concerning the machine evolution: am no expert on evolution ideas, but is it probable that those mini-machines (great idea that they unite to bigger units when necessary and fall apart as soon as they are in danger - that means they can become any machine they like) kill humans by erasing their memories? The scientists in the story guess (they don´t really know) that those mini-units empty human minds to make them helpless and thus kill them. But are those humans a threat to their niches? What are those niches anyway? Food = energy, what do those machines consume they could defend against others? And why not kill humans in an efficient way instead of making them stumble over the planet until they die?
And: can´t those machines be defeated because they are so superior in the given evironment or is it, that human knowledge and science is not capable of understanding the perfectly different? The logic of another world? Those questions interest me. Lem really makes me think.

He was very unsatisfied with his own astronautic ideas in Astronauci as they were inaccurate even for the knowledge of his time. Fascinating.

Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Miranda w Grudzień 05, 2005, 12:53:49 pm
Where can I find the fantomatics? Started reading all Lems, but have still some more to go...

AI in Golem: So Lem was visionary with light communication in computers. What about the idea of a superior computer? Any signs for such a hugh omniscient computer compared to that people are mere children?
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Deckard w Grudzień 05, 2005, 01:21:54 pm
Fantomatics was widely disscussed in "Bomba Megabitowa" (eng. "Megabit Bomb"), but I was told it wasn't translated into English.

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Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: innate w Grudzień 05, 2005, 06:05:21 pm
mini-machines: I haven't read the story in some time, but I think Lem will sacrifice scientific rigor in detail in order to say "that which is alien is completely unknowable by man" and "when man does not understand something, he falls back on his primate nature and starts smashing things blindly".

huge omniscient computer: The Singularitarians expect it, but I don't know about the likelihood of it actually happening in the reasonably near future.
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Deckard w Grudzień 06, 2005, 09:54:16 am
The truth is that the problem is the AI itself. It hasn't been discovered yet. So it doesn't matter how fast and efficient the computers gonna be in future. Without algorithm they will still be as dumb as they are today.

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Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Grudzień 06, 2005, 12:17:43 pm
Yeah, super efficiently dumb ::)

As a known AI sceptic, what can I say ::)
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: innate w Grudzień 06, 2005, 06:02:19 pm
AI algorithms: Do you think the best course of action is to borrow liberally from neuroscience or to try to do something de novo?
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Deckard w Grudzień 06, 2005, 09:52:00 pm
AI is a virgin subject. Many people had already tried to find out the right solution and as we know we didn't have any strict answer. Neuroscience can be very helpful for IT scientists working on the AI. Actually, it's not only about neuroscience - every new discovery in biology, medicine, mathematics, physics, electronics, robotics... you name it, can be useful for the AI research.

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Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Grudzień 07, 2005, 03:54:24 am
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AI algorithms: Do you think the best course of action is to borrow liberally from neuroscience or to try to do something de novo?


De novo ab ovo.

:)

But seriously: even slowest progress can somehat converge; limit, however, may never be archieved.
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Socrates w Grudzień 07, 2005, 04:42:26 am
http://www.theonion.com/content/node/30291

hehehehe...

truth or myth?

Cheers, Socrates
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Deckard w Grudzień 07, 2005, 09:26:39 am
Is it April 1st?
That's a really good joke...  ;D ;D

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Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Grudzień 07, 2005, 01:00:40 pm
Gosh, what a rubbish...
Didn't buy that, though...
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Miranda w Grudzień 09, 2005, 10:53:11 am
What about Lem´s robots? They are very specialized and dumb creatures. No signs of taking over command. At least the robots humans created.

Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Deckard w Grudzień 09, 2005, 11:14:29 am
I don't know much about robots described by Lem, but I remember that in "Astronauts" he very much surprised me, 'coz he didn't even mention a robot as a common practise on board of the future spaceships. Strange...

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Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Miranda w Styczeń 06, 2006, 05:28:24 pm
Why is Lem so convinced that science rules the world in one respect and on the other hand he always critizises it and shows its limits in his stories? See those miniature creatures in the Invincible: they are the end of an technological evolution and the story/Lem takes their description very seriously. What is said there sound possible to me. It´s an scientifically interested and accurate description.
But in the end the crew with all its experts is exposed to be a bunch of idiots, who Kirk-like try to kill any unknown creature that crosses his way. Scientist appear to be very limited persons, or maybe they just represent mankind.
Or take Solaris: microscopic examination on below nucleus level of Hareys blood meets gone crazy scientists defeated by a superior or at least very different intelligence. Why those endings?
You know what I mean: it´s always the same scientific euphoria that meets the limits of (human) science.
What do you think about it? What is his attitude towards scientific thinking, possibilities...?
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: innate w Styczeń 06, 2006, 07:03:44 pm
Part of it is that we abandon rational scientific thought under stresses.

I was also going to say that maybe what I think is true of 99% of humanity is what he thinks is true of 100% of humanity -- but then perhaps it's simply that he's been so deeply disappointed by us in his life that he has no desire to show any humans in a good light.
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Miranda w Styczeń 16, 2006, 12:45:04 pm
Do you think he abandons rational thinking in writing literature? At least he´s able to think and speculate whatever he wants there. Whereas in scientific essays he is bound to explain based on existing knowledge. Not so many new possibilities there...
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: innate w Styczeń 16, 2006, 10:04:49 pm
I'm just saying that I think there are a few individuals out there who don't match his descriptions (but I fear that they may be too few to make a difference).
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: pirxowa w Styczeń 23, 2006, 10:29:58 pm
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How scientific are Lem´s texts?

I am writing a book about science in polish and russian science fiction. What about Lem´s scientific ideas? Are they innovative, are they accurate...?

They are not actually scientific.
Scientific theories are based on mathematics (like in physics)  or at least on logical reasoning (like in biology) AND on experiment.

Lem does not know too much about mathematics, nor does he do experiments. All he can do is to intelligently extrapolate the information read in "New Scientist" etc. or gained from his physicist friends. And, since he was (still is?) an extraordinarily intelligent person, his predictions were not  too much divergent from reality. (In a time scale as short as tens of years, of course.) But he did not really "invent" anything new.
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: wetal w Styczeń 24, 2006, 09:24:05 am
  I don`t agree, read H.Harrison or P.Dick and yo will see that Lem`s books are more or less scientific and futuristic.
 What do you think about works of Arthur Clarke are they actually scientific.
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: pirxowa w Styczeń 24, 2006, 10:45:39 am
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 I don`t agree, read H.Harrison or P.Dick and yo will see that Lem`s books are more or less scientific and futuristic.
  What do you think about works of Arthur Clarke are they actually scientific.


They are not "scientific" as well as Lem's books are not.
I have written about the INTELLIGENT EXTRAPOLATION of today's state of science and technology to the future. The difference between Lem and the writers you listed is that Lem was able at least to take correct initial conditions. In other words, he knew quite well what is the state of the contemporary scientific knowledge.  Unlike the other writers who didn't even know what is going on in science in their days. And then they wrote things which were in contradiction with science already at the time when the book was being written.
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Deckard w Styczeń 24, 2006, 11:02:03 am
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They are not "scientific" as well as Lem's books are not.
I have written about the INTELLIGENT EXTRAPOLATION of today's state of science and technology to the future. The difference between Lem and the writers you listed is that Lem was able at least to take correct initial conditions. In other words, he knew quite well what is the state of the contemporary scientific knowledge.  Unlike the other writers who didn't even know what is going on in science in their days. And then they wrote things which were in contradiction with science already at the time when the book was being written.


Wow!!! That's great. You problably don't know who Arthur C. Clark is, right?

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Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: pirxowa w Styczeń 24, 2006, 11:11:35 am
Unfortunately, I do know.
I read his first book of "Rama" series.
This was exactly what I mean by "wrong initial conditions".

I remember a particularly amusing fragment on how the high temperature moves through a spaceship's wall. If you know a thing or two about thermodynamics, you will see where the mistake is. As far as I remember that event was very important to the whole story. But if it is wrong, then the whole story becomes unrealistic.
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Deckard w Styczeń 24, 2006, 11:26:15 am
I gotta read this "Rama" series.... hmmmm

I think that in most of the SF books some parts are more or less inoccurate from the scientific point of view. That's because those stories are addressed to common people. But I agree that if you'd probe a little deeper into the stories you'd find some inconsistencies. Neverthereless Clark in opposistion to Lem is, in my humble oppinion, a different league.

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Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Styczeń 24, 2006, 11:47:58 am
Baaah, it's natural for someone involved with science to suddenly acquire unrealistic expectations about SF-writer's knowledge and abilities. Easy, pirxowa, mind the fact that if all them autors were competent scientists, they wouldn't be writers, but scientists... (as long as they stay away from Poland, when noone gives a damn about being competent in science).
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: wetal w Styczeń 24, 2006, 11:53:09 am
   So the previous argument was that Mr.Lem is not an inventor and stands apart from science and is limited by having friends keen on phisics.It didn`t bother him to write "Solaris".
  Clarke`s ''Rendezvous with Rama''unlooking at the fact that some laws of phisics were broken is not a trash and is still quite readable in Ukraine.Though apart from S.Lem Clarke is closer to science and phisics and in some sources is regarded a man who suggested the idea that geostationary satellites would be ideal telecommunications relays.
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Deckard w Styczeń 24, 2006, 12:10:27 pm
Arthur C. Clarke is a man of science and then a writer. The similar story goes with Carl Sagan, but that one was an active scientist to the very end.
Lem is a writer and philosopher.... and I guess that's all.

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Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: wetal w Styczeń 24, 2006, 12:33:36 pm
This is what I was driving at and also wanted to mention Stephen Hawking and Isaac Asimov.
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: YODA w Luty 06, 2006, 09:37:50 am
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They are not "scientific" as well as Lem's books are not.


I`m afraid You are wrong...
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: YODA w Luty 06, 2006, 09:58:02 am
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They are not "scientific" as well as Lem's books are not.


I`m afraid You are wrong...
St. Lem isn`t  a researcher himself obviously, however scientists from very many countries all over the world have been inspired by his books for a few dozen years (trust me 8))
Once (Soviet Union was still existed then and "a discipline" was very important there) in spite of approved plans of Lem`s visit he was almost kidnapped from the airport just by the scientists of Soviet Cosmic Centre. They kept him away for two days...
tell me pirxowa, please... "why?" and "what for?" Consider this.
I`m recommending You Lem`s "Summa Technologiae". You should read it necessarily - You shall change your mind about this question and we`ll return to the conversation :)
Cheers. Y.
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: pirxowa w Luty 11, 2006, 11:41:55 pm
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I`m afraid You are wrong...
St. Lem isn`t  a researcher himself obviously, however scientists from very many countries all over the world have been inspired by his books for a few dozen years (trust me 8))


:-) I am a scientist myself. Trust me. :-)

Please give me an example of ANY scientific discovery made under inspiration of Lem.

Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Luty 12, 2006, 12:22:32 am
What he may mean is that some scientists are inspired by Lem on a daily basis. That doesn't necesarily have to yield the specific discoveries. How do you inspire a serious discovery anyway? If somebody is a dork working his time fruitlessly, as it, as you must know, happens too often in Polish science, no inspiration will revieve his/hers creativity.
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: pirxowa w Luty 12, 2006, 01:02:40 am
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What he may mean is that some scientists are inspired by Lem on a daily basis. That doesn't necesarily have to yield the specific discoveries.

Which means that it is not a SCIENTIFIC inspiration. It may be at most a philosophical one. Lem is not a researcher. He may be considered a philosopher, but not a scientist in the sense of natural science.

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How do you inspire...

The only inspiration in my work are the discoveries of other scientists.

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...a serious discovery...?

Not yet. When I receive the Nobel prize, I will tell you.
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Luty 12, 2006, 01:19:52 am
You don't need to tell me what inspires a scientist.
I was just speculationg about what Yoda meant.

As for Nobel prize, I wish you all the very best.
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Ryszard w Luty 13, 2006, 12:23:03 am
My 3 cents.
Lem is not a scientist, but he is scientificly minded.
Having plenty of time, he is able to absorb many diverse ideas and reach reasonable conclusions not that much of scientific kind, but rather philosophical in nature.
He puts many of this in his writings.
He also maybe called humanist, maybe due to his medical education. I think this is important, because he adds human factor to all scientific divagations. To be clear, not humanist ideas, but rather human factor - human nature influencing science and technology.
It is inspiring. Just do not take it literaly.
I found myself influenced by this philosophy in my everyday professional activities.
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Miranda w Luty 15, 2006, 09:18:50 am
Two more pence:
What about really great discoveries e.g. in physics? (I am a scientist myself, but different branch, so I can’t tell). To find out something really “big”, isn’t it necessary to be a philosopher as well? Or let’s say a visionary.

As long as Pirxowa says one is only inspired by the discoveries of other scientists one can’t really leave the given horizon. Of course everyone will accept your work as scientific (in a narrow sense) as well, for you never leave the scope of the whole scientific community. Well done jobs! Important jobs, that’s not the point.
But so many here said they are inspired by Lems books themselves…Maybe because he leaves with his books the well known scientific fields and steps aside into a new arena of science – with speculation, prognosis, unbound ideas, open possibilities. Somebody wrote: Lem writes for ordinary people. Doesn’t he write for ordinary scientists? My aunt Annie would not read Lem, that’s for sure.
Now, isn’t he, who doesn’t claim to know what science ('really') is, the ‘real scientist’? Remember once they agreed on the earth as the centre of the universe as the Bible was the scientific thruth! Bad example, I agree, but anyway, you know what I mean….
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Ritch w Luty 15, 2006, 07:26:43 pm
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Please give me an example of ANY scientific discovery made under inspiration of Lem.


Not exactly scientfic discovery but a technological improve was the virtual reality prophetized by Lem, he called phantomatics.

I'm not sure but I think he also foresaw the nanotechnology
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Deckard w Luty 17, 2006, 04:43:55 pm
Just a few days ago I had an opportunity to read an internet article on artificial intelligence (that article was given in Polish section) where the scientist was pointing at philosophy as a mean of inspiration for making new scientific discoveries.
If philosophy can be inspiring then Lem's books can be an inspiration for a scientist as well. That's because Lem is not only a great writer but also a philosopher.

I think the same story goes with adventure and science-fiction novels. They were motivating lots of people in their quests for the answers.

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Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: daffodil2006 w Marzec 28, 2006, 08:19:25 pm
Lem was interested in natural science since his early childhood. In his autobiographic novel HIGH CASTLE(vusokij zamok, I'm sorry if the title's translation isn't correct, I read Lem's books in Russian) he told us about his first experince in Biology and Chemistry. His works are illustrated with numerous scientific observation. He isn't brilliant in details, but he is really great in the main ideas and the whole threads of thinking. That's my conclusion which I made after reading SUMMA of TECHOLOGY.
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Metalist w Marzec 28, 2006, 08:50:11 pm
Lem was a scientific visionary. Which is a very important part of science as well as any other developmental venture.
Tytuł: Re: science with Lem
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Pekka w Marzec 30, 2006, 08:23:03 pm
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Not exactly scientfic discovery but a technological improve was the virtual reality prophetized by Lem, he called phantomatics.

I'm not sure but I think he also foresaw the nanotechnology


In Astronauci (this indeed was translated into Finnish!) the message from Venus is decyphered by connecting computers in different places on Earth to create a modular supercomputer...wasn´t it quite visionary in 1950?Strange, I have never seen anywhere anybody else pointing this out...

Pekka 8)