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

Michael Nielsen (
Wed, 15 Dec 1999 08:52:20 -0800 (PST)

On Wed, 15 Dec 1999, Damien Broderick wrote:

> Transhuman Mailing List
> Stanislaw Lem, the great Polish polymath and sf writer/critic, published
> FANTASTYKA I FUTUROLOGIA in Cracow in 1970, which included a long
> discussion of Olaf Stapleton's magisterial 1930 novel LAST AND FIRST MEN.
> Parts of this chapter were translated (via Hungarian) by Istvan
> Csicsery-Ronay, Jr, and published in 1986 in SCIENCE-FICTION STUDIES (Vol
> 13, p. 272-91). I quote without permission the following rather impressive
> unfolding of what Vernor Vinge would independently rediscover more than a
> decade later. Perhaps this insight was achieved prior to Lem; I would be
> grateful to learn if he, too, was anticipated.

This is a fascinating piece by Lem, Damien.

In Vinge's article on the Singularity --- which can be found at Anders' page:

               One conversation centered on the ever accelerating progress
               of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which
               gives the appearance of approaching some essential
               singularity in the history of the race beyond which human
               affairs, as we know them, could not continue.

Vinge opines that von Neumann was not refering to superhuman intelligence here. I'm not so sure; I'm reading a biography of von Neumann at the moment, and von Neumann's "Computers and the human brain"; the possibility of superhuman intelligence apparently occupied von Neumann's thoughts quite a bit.


Michael Nielsen
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