The World According to Stanisław Lem

lemBeautiful piece on the best: The World According to Stanisław Lem, which takes a very contemporary turn towards the final paragraphs. (via Bruce Sterling)

Lem understood that even mundane varieties of information could be disastrous in overwhelming quantities. What happens, he asked in His Master’s Voice, when “the technologies of information have led to a situation in which one can receive best the message of him who shouts the loudest, even when the most falsely?” Or, as he wrote in the same novel, “freedom of expression sometimes presents a greater threat to an idea, because forbidden thoughts may circulate in secret, but what can be done when an important fact is lost in a flood of impostors […] ?”

Facebook and the deluge of fake news sites didn’t exist when Lem wrote this, but their creation wouldn’t have surprised him. The future of the United States, he wrote to Kandel, is “dark, most likely.”