Stanislaw Lem Dead

It’s a sad day for sci-fi fans – Polish author Stanislaw Lem has died.

He’s probably best known for Solaris, a great book that spawned not one but two unwatchable movies. (Lem himself called the Tarkovsky version “Crime and Punishment in space”.)

I first came across his works in one of my favorite books: the Mind’s I collection edited by Douglas R. Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennet. This led me to Lem’s The Cyberiad, which I really enjoyed.

Even though he tried to distance himself from the genre, his influence on science fiction can’t be denied.

March 27, 2006 | Posted in: Books | Comments Closed

How to Survive a Robot Uprising

How to Survive a Robot Uprising is along the same lines as the popular Worst Case Scenario series. I like this one better though, because a) it is written by an actual roboticist, and b) there are interesting stories of actual robotics scattered throughout the survival advice.

This book gives you the know-how to defeat all manner of robot configurations, weapon systems, and sensor methods. Recognizing humanoid robots is covered (“Follow your nose. Does your friend smell like a brand new soccer ball?”).

It also gives a handy timeline for how the Robot Uprising is likely to progress, and what to do afterward.

I guess my only complaint is that the How to Reason With a Robot section does not cover the classic method of “acting really wacky until smoke comes out of the robot’s ears.”

We all know that it’s only a matter of time (see Turing Test 2005) before we are kneeling before the robot overlords, but this book will help put it off as long as possible.