‘you yourselves will of course continue to emulate Evolution, but only in the region of its later creations, by constructing optic, thermal, and acoustic sensors, and by imitating the mechanics of locomotion, the lungs, heart and kidneys; but how on earth are you going to master photosynthesis or the still more difficult technique of creation language? Has it not dawned on you that what you are imitating is the nonsense articulated in that language?
That language – a constructor unsurpassed in its potential – has become not only a motor but a trap.
Why did it utter molecularly brilliant words at the beginning, turning light into substance with laconic mastery, and later lapse into an indefatigable jabbering of longer and longer, more and more intricate chromosomal sentences, squandering its primitive artistry? Why did it go from consummate solutions taking their power and vital knowledge from a star, wherein every atom counted and every process was quantitatively attuned, and descend to any cheap, jury-rigged solutions – the simple machines, the levers, pulleys, planes, inclines and counter-balances, that constitute joints and skeletons. Why is the basis of a vertebrate a mechanically rigid rod, and not a coupling of force fields? Why did it slip down from atomic physics into the technology of your Middle Ages?
– The Inaugural Lecture delivered by the supercomputer GOLEM, published in Stanislaw Lem’s Imaginary Magnitude, 1973.