Re: Lem on the Singularity and Great Filter, in 1970

Anders Sandberg (
15 Dec 1999 19:27:15 +0100

Impressive thinking; I have always admired Lem's writings. Thanks Damien for bringing it up, it is often tricky to find translations of Lem.

Damien Broderick <> writes:

> Lem critiques several aspects of Stapledon's two billion year future
> history, noting almost in passing that its repeated total regressions in
> progress is implausible but constructed for the literary reason that taking
> into account genuinely expectable change would have made it impossible to
> write the novel (as Vinge realized much later):

This problem of exponentials surpassing the writer seems to have been (subconsciously?) noted by several authors, I'm not sure how independent they are from Vinge. For example, in very many future histories the technology is kept at a "reasonable" level by the cliche of World War III/The Great Disaster/etc that delayed or set back technological growth a few centuries, just enough so that the author gets the right technological level in 2500 or so. It is seldom clear if they did it because they wanted some drama in the history or if they did it just to keep the story/world understandable, but quite often it seems to be the later. A good example of the view, in this case nanotechnology applied to roleplaying settings, can be found at Even in the case where the author deliberately included the full effects, he chose to make nanotech something only the other side used.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
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