Facebook celebrates the 100th anniversary of Stanisław Lem’s birth and encourages us to peek into the future of science and technology in reference to the works of the Polish master of science fiction. In a campaign launched by the company, popular creators give the floor to scientists who take over their social media feeds and compare the future that Lem saw with their research and reflections. The vision of the future created by Polish researchers can be found on the channels of Make Life Harder, Kasia Gandor, Michał Korkosz “Rozkoszny”, Remigiusz Maciaszek “Rock” and Patryk Mikiciuk, among others.
One hundred years ago, Stanisław Lem – the leading Polish futurist and science fiction author – was born. In his work, he asked questions that have grown in importance over time: about the direction of the development of society, the boundaries between man and machine, or our place in the universe. Many of his bold visions have become reality before our eyes: the so-called “optons” described in “Return from the Stars” are today’s ebooks. In “Dialogues” Lem described the possibility of a computer network, which today we would call the Internet. Virtual reality, or Lem’s “fantomatics”, is, in turn, the subject of one of the essays contained in “The Megabyte Bomb”.
There are many more such examples – Stanisław Lem’s imagination and the accuracy of his projections amaze us so far. And which of Lem’s visions are still waiting to be fulfilled? This question will be answered by Polish scientists and inventors working on solutions in the field of artificial intelligence, robotics, biology, and virtual reality. As part of the action initiated by Facebook on the occasion of Stanisław Lem’s Year, they host popular Polish artists on Instagram and Facebook.
Among them are Petros Psyllos, electronics engineer and inventor recognized by the American edition of Forbes magazine as one of the 30 best young European innovators. Petros studies artificial intelligence, social robots, virtual assistants, and human-machine interactions. As part of a Facebook initiative via the satirical channel Make Life Harder, he talked about whether machines can write poetry and how technology can help us overcome the limitations of the human body.
Will encounters on the moon, at the bottom of the ocean, or in the middle of the Amazon Forest soon be our everyday reality? Is it possible to create the perfect illusion? Jowita Guja, a philosopher and culture expert, who heads the EduVRLab Virtual Reality Research Laboratory at the AGH University of Science and Technology in Cracow, will talk about virtual reality, the possibilities it offers, and the new questions it raises. And it will be hosted by a veteran of the Polish gaming scene, Remigiusz Maciaszek “Rock”.
We will be brought down to earth by Marcin Popkiewicz, climatologist and megatrend analyst, who knows the answer to the most burning questions concerning the links between the economy, energy, natural resources, and the environment. Through the channels of science popularizer Kasia Gandor, Marcin will talk about the latest findings of climate researchers and where we are in the fight against global warming, as well as what we can do to win this battle.
Aleksandra Przegalińska is a philosopher, artificial intelligence researcher, and futurologist whose scientific work is concerned with the development of new technologies, especially those that have a positive impact on the environment. As part of Facebook’s series, she will touch on the transportation of the future – talking about how artificial intelligence can improve city life and why streets full of autonomous vehicles are still sci-fi. She will talk about Stanislaw Lem and his visions of the future with automotive journalist Patryk Mikiciuk.
According to Aleksandra Przegalińska, Lem’s works have been important to her since her early youth:
“I read Stanislaw Lem when I was still in high school and I think he really inspired me to do what I do today. We have all heard of Lem, but especially today we should listen to him more. He had an extremely serious approach to technology – he wondered what it could give us, how it could enrich our lives, but he also paid attention to the risks it could bring. His work is truly the world’s diamond of science fiction.
Finally, Stanisław Łoboziak, a molecular biologist and head of the biological laboratory at the Copernicus Science Centre, where he also grows insectivorous plants and explores the secrets of cultivating luminous marine algae, bacteria, and fungi, will talk about the food of the future and how to grow meat in spinach leaves using muscle cells. You can listen to the story of the future that awaits our plates on Facebook and Instagram of food blogger Michał Korkosz “Rozkoszny”.
“Science permeates Lem’s work throughout: from the description of the laborious but fascinating research project in “His Master’s Voice” or the completely new branch of science in “Solaris” to the characters of Trurl and Klapauciusz – the great Constructors, protagonists of the brilliant and humorous “The Cyberiad”. His work fascinates and attracts successive generations to science, and we hope to achieve the same through this campaign,” explains Robert Bednarski, General Manager of Facebook in Central and Eastern Europe.
You can follow the action on the creators’ channels and the Polish Facebook App page. The whole series will be preceded by a live broadcast from the Megabit Bomb festival, devoted to the works of Stanisław Lem. On Facebook App, you can watch recorded discussions with the participation of experts such as Natalia Hatalska, Prof. Jerzy Bralczyk, and Karol Bielecki, who talked about the future from the point of view of, among others, ethics, language, and sport.
Provoking futuristic discussions is a recurring theme in Facebook’s efforts – they are also the subject of the second season of the Facebook Conversations podcast available on all major streaming platforms.
You can find photos of the participants here, and more information about the researchers involved in the initiative is attached.