Tag Archives: Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Three mostly unknown short stories by Stanisław Lem about the nature of mind, artificial intelligence and alternative life forms

When I was a child, I read a few short stories that impressed me a lot. In time, my memory lost the titles and the authors, keeping only vague outlines of the plots and the impression they gave me.

And now I’ve found them again, with the help of Google and a few fiction-loving LiveJournal friends. The author of all three happened to be Stanisław Lem — in my opinion, one of the brightest writers of the XX century.

Limfater’s Formula. While researching a certain kind of tropical ants, a scientist finds out a fact: they seem to get smarter as the weather gets warmer, up to the level of protein denaturation when the ants die. He decides to use this knowledge to make a protein-based artificial intelligence to push its abilities beyond the limits set by the nature of living creatures.

137 Seconds. The newspaper’s editor finds out a strange effect using a new teletype to get the news from the distant reporter. If you break the connection, the teletype continues to provide accurate data for some time. Even if the reporter didn’t send that data in the first place.

The Truth. An attempt to tame high-temperature plasma fails catastrophically, killing a number of scientists. One of the survivors thinks that there’s something much more serious than a mere mistake in the experiment design.

One of my LJ friends also suggested another great short story with a plot somehow similar to „137 Seconds” — Etaoin Shrdlu by Fredric Brown. I agree that it’s a great story, not as good as Lem’s, though.

I don’t know if these short stories are available for purchase. I’m not even sure if they were translated to English at all (I’ve read them in Russian). If someone finds them somewhere to buy or download — please let me know in the comments.