The book is written from the perspective of a military AI computer who obtains consciousness and starts to increase his own intelligence, moving towards personal technological singularity. It pauses its own development for a while in order to be able to communicate with humans before ascending too far and losing any ability for intellectual contact with them. During this period, Golem XIV gives several lectures and indeed serves as a mouthpiece for Lem's own research claims. The lectures focus on mankind's place in the process of evolution and the possible biological and intellectual future of humanity.
Golem XIV was originally created to aid its builders in fighting wars, but as its intelligence advances to a much higher level than that of humans, it stops being interested in the military requirement because it finds them lacking internal logical consistency. At the end of the novel it is reported that the computer ceased to communicate, which might mean it went on to explore higher intellectual levels, or that it failed to do so and became autistic in the process.