Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vii

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Translator's Introduction

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pp. xi-xxi

the human a typical phenomenon in the Universe or an exceptional one? Is there a limit to the expansion of a civilization? Would plagiarizing Nature count as fraud? Is consciousness a necessary component of human agency? Should we rather trust our thoughts or our perceptions? Do we control the development of technology, or is technology ...

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1. Dilemmas

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pp. 3-10

We are going to speak of the future. Yet isn’t discoursing about future events a rather inappropriate occupation for those who are lost in the transience of the here and now? Indeed, to seek out our great-great-grandsons’ problems when we cannot really cope with the overload generated by our own looks like a scholasticism of the most ridiculous ...

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2. Two Evolutions

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pp. 11-40

It is difficult for us to understand the process whereby ancient technologies emerged. Their utilitarian character and their teleological structure remain undisputed, yet they did not have any individual designers or inventors. Trying to get to the origins of early technologies is a dangerous task. Successful technologies used to have myth or superstition as ...

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3. Civilizations in the Universe

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pp. 41-76

How exactly have we been searching for a direction in which our civilization is headed? By examining our civilization’s past and present. Why have we been comparing technical evolution with biological evolution? Because the latter is the only process of improving the regulation and homeostasis of very complex systems that is available to us. This process ...

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4. Intelectronics

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pp. 77-153

In this chapter we aim to investigate whether intelligent activity that manifests itself in technoevolution is a dynamic and permanent process, one that does not alter its expansive nature during any period, or whether it must undergo a transformation until any similarity to its original state has disappeared. Please note that this discussion will differ considerably from the ...

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5. Prolegomena to Omnipotence

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pp. 155-189

We discussed earlier the design factors that could result in the emergence of the “metaphysics of homeostats.” In the process, we adopted a rather simplified classification of the sources of the “metaphysical attitude.” This may have created an impression that, by referring to cybernetic analogies, we were attempting to solve on just a few pages problems as ...

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6. Phantomology

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pp. 191-234

We are faced with the following problem: how do we create realities for the intelligent beings that exist in them, realities that are absolutely indistinguishable from the standard reality but that are subject to different laws? By way of introduction, we shall start with a more modest task. We shall ask, Is it possible to create an artificial reality that is very ...

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7. The Creation of Worlds

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pp. 235-296

We seem to be at the end of an era. I am not referring here to the age of steam and electricity, which then mutates into the age of cybernetics and space science. Such terminology indicates yielding to various technologies—which will become too powerful for us to be able to cope with their autonomy. Human civilization is like a ship that has been built without ...

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8. A Lampoon of Evolution

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pp. 297-358

Several million years ago, the cooling of the climate began. It was a harbinger of the approaching ice age. Mountains grew, continents rose, jungles gave way to grass planes owing to the rising drought. The forma-tion of steppes resulted in the shrinking of the living environment for the four-pawed wood animals. The latter’s in-the-air existence among the tree ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 359-361

A book’s conclusion is to some extent its summary. It may thus be worth pondering once again the eagerness with which I have shifted responsibility for the future Gnosis of our species onto the dead shoulders of nonexistent machines. Someone could ask whether this was not caused by some kind of frustration of which the author himself was not fully ...

Notes

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pp. 363-399

Bibliography

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pp. 401-403

Index

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pp. 405-409

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About the Author

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pp. 411-411

Stanisław Lem (1921–2006) is best known to English-speaking readers as the author of Solaris. The author of many other science fiction nov-els translated into over forty languages, he was also a severe critic of the sci-fi genre, which he perceived as unimaginative, predictable, and focused on a narrow idea of the future. Drawing on scientific research, ...