Dialogues (by Stanislaw Lem)

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Lem, Stanislaw. Dialogues. Peter Butko, translator. 1957, updated 1971. Translation Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2021.[1]

From the MIT Press blurb (cited in note 1).

It was a testimony, Lem wrote later, to “the almost limitless cognitive optimism” he felt upon his discovery of cybernetics. This is the first English translation of Lem's Dialogues, including the text of the first edition and the later essays added to the second edition in 1971. For the second edition, Lem chose not to revise the original. Recognizing the naivete of his hopes for cybernetics, he constructed a supplement to the first dialogue, which consists of two critical essays, the first a summary of the evolution of cybernetics, the second a contribution to the cybernetic theory of the “sociopathology of governing” [...].


Reviewed by Scott Bradfield, "Humanity Is Stupid, Helpless and Possibly Worth Saving," The New York Times, 28 September 2021, on line as of November 2021 and available — at least to subscribers — at link here.[2]

Over the course of his most methodical and least whimsical book, Lem investigates what it means to be human, mechanical or both. It’s sort of like “My Dinner With Andre” if it had been set in some virtual-reality restaurant buried deep in the matrices of a supercomputer.

“Dialogues” explores the possibility of creating an inorganic consciousness, or whether human personalities can be transposed into machines and vice versa — all of which [...] might turn out to be “grotesque, awkward and disagreeable.” [...] The problem, of course, is that the people designing the intelligent machines are far from intelligent themselves. The resulting “electronic brains are ‘idiot calculators’” [... a speaker in a dialog complains] built not to mimic humanity but to “efficiently perform narrowly specific tasks.”

RDE, finishing, 8Nov21