Summa Technologiae

Summa Technologiae

Summa Technologiae

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Summa Technologiae (the title is in Latin, meaning "Sum of Technology" in English) is a 1964 (1967 - second edition) book by Polish author Stanisław Lem. Summa is one of the first collection of philosophical essays by Lem. The book exhibits depth of insight and irony usual for Lem's creations. The name is an allusion to Summa Theologiae by Thomas Aquinas.

Paraphrasing the author, the book tries to "examine the thorns of roses that have not flowered yet" - in other words, to deal with problems of the remote (and in some cases, not so remote) future. The primary question Lem treats in the book is that of civilization in the absence of limitations, both technological and material. He also looks at moral-ethical and philosophical consequences of future technologies.

Despite its age and a number of inaccuracies in specific domains (e.g., mathematics, biology, sociology), the book has lost no momentum in the past years. Surprising as it can be, some issues discussed in the book sound more contemporary nowadays than 40 years ago. Among the themes that Lem discusses in the book and that were completely in the realm of science fiction then, but are gaining importance today, are virtual reality, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and technological singularity.


The book is divided in 8 chapters, each dealing with far-fetched implications of certain concept:

1. Dilemmas
Lem starts by presenting his views on future prognostication and motivations in......

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