What Technology Wants

Monday, October 18, 2010

Kevin Kelly, former executive editor of Wired magazine, discusses his brand-new view of technology, and explains how technology can give our lives greater meaning. In What Technology Wants he suggests that technology is a living, evolving organism that has its own unconscious needs and tendencies, and by aligning ourselves with the long-term imperatives of this near-living system, we can capture its full gifts.


Kevin Kelly

Comments [20]

Dan from Brooklyn Heights

Oct. 18 2010 02:40 PM
Michael from NYC

An aspect of perspective on tech that the guest overlooks is that technology is in a parasitic relationship to human society. The parasite can only exist while it remains in a symbiotic relationship with the host. What technology "wants" can only be achieved when it corresponds to what the human hosts want and any trend that deviates from that becomes a footnote in history books. This may not be easy, but the most obvious example is the development of nuclear weapons. Whenever the technology develops to a point where it becomes a threat to continued human existence, its trend line will stop...another trend line will replace it. Hopefully. Like our carbon based fuel technology, which will soon either be replaced or we will have a major human die off due to climate change.

Oct. 18 2010 01:58 PM

Can you address the spirotual implications of the growth of tech? One mind coming into consciousness - sounds like God.

Oct. 18 2010 01:55 PM
Amy from Manhattan

On Kevin Kelly's earlier statement about going back from matter to energy, isn't it really more that the matter there but not visible to us? The data that we download resides on a physical server somewhere, just as the signal that reaches our TVs (if we have them!) & radios originates from physical equipment.

Oct. 18 2010 01:55 PM
LL from UWS

Shame! Guest ignores the de-skilling of Labor! There is a strange Capitalist boss slant to him.

Oct. 18 2010 01:54 PM
Barbara Greene from Riverdale, NY

We toss around the term "science" much too loosely, as if it were a single institution and its conclusions were beyond dispute. As I understand it, science is just an empirical method for observing natural phenomena. Each generation tends to disprove things the preceeding generation took for granted.

Oct. 18 2010 01:51 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Leonard, thanks for reading my question! But Kevin, while I appreciate your answer, you didn't really say anything about *how* greener tech can be promoted over the expansion of the kind that threatens the environment.

Oct. 18 2010 01:49 PM
LL from UWS

What do wiser, traditional societies want?
What do women want?

What would psychologists, sociologists, philosophers say about this guest?

Oct. 18 2010 01:49 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

There is a way Amy. A war in the Middle East that destroys the oil fields, and then there will be little choice. Necessity is the mother of invention. When people freeze and will pay anything to keep from freezing to death, they'll be happy to pay twice as much for alternative sources.

Oct. 18 2010 01:49 PM
Mike from NYC

It's even more of a problem than HAL going "haywire", as Leonard said. From HAL's perspective, it was right, and it just lost. HAL was killing the astronauts because they were, in its judgment, jeopardizing the mission it was programmed to protect. Kubrick's prophetic script demonstrates the inherent conflict of the human values vs. the machine and machine like values of a bureaucracy of mission planners that allows the results of a policy to be seen as more important than the lives of the people who are ordered to implement them.

Oct. 18 2010 01:47 PM
LL from UWS

What do wiser, traditional societies want?
What do women want?

What would psychologists, sociologists, philosophers say about this guest?

Oct. 18 2010 01:47 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Is there any way to promote green tech's "getting what it wants" in the face of the predominance of polluting technologies? In fact, how much is it a question of the technology's getting what it wants & how much of people w/lots of money having the means to promote what they want to keep getting more money & power under the system as it currently exists?

Oct. 18 2010 01:40 PM
John from Manhattan

His kids don't watch TV and yet they're permitted to have access on the Internet? Say wha? The Internet trumps TV in spades as a source for junk, looniness and detritus of all stripes. That sort of posture about child rearing is just plain wacky.

Oct. 18 2010 01:34 PM
Tom from Toronto

I have real problems with parents who sanctimoniously live in "TV-free" households.

While yes, 99.8% of TV is garbage, when its done well, there is almost no subsitute. Everything from nature programs and shows which highlight places in the world we will never be able to visit, to intelligent discussions on all manners of subject, to real breaking news of important world events.

There is a wonderful piece of technology developed in the 80's you might have heard of... the remote control.

I feel sorry for your kids.

Oct. 18 2010 01:33 PM
Jenny from Tarrytown, NY

Human technology has grown exponentially over the last several thousand years, but human beings THEMSELVES are much the same as they've been since the Stone Age. How is all this complex gadgetry affecting our hunter-gatherer brains?

Oct. 18 2010 01:30 PM

Another deep time clock, based on natural cycles rather than mechanical systems, can be found at Making deep time visible will help focus societal debate on those hard problems that elude soundbite discourse.

Oct. 18 2010 01:27 PM
Ann from Jersey City

Any more specifics on when where exactly the millennium clock will be built? He mentioned a park in Nevada? Need to know!

Oct. 18 2010 01:27 PM
To Em from Midtown East

Wired magazine is entertainment, and it knows how to cater to its audience: mostly male, mostly white, mostly upper-middle-class.

Oct. 18 2010 01:26 PM

The science and technology community has consistently failed the children of the US. Literacy rates in this country are appalling and needless to say, knowledge of science falls far below this. There is an interesting segment on Democracy Now today about the negative influence of business on academia that everyone should watch and this is a good example of the dollar signs that are dominating the agenda (BP is extensively cited.) Technology is not some objective movement, which is the myth that is generally accepted, and it is not necessarily positive. It is determined by human motives and desires and no one should neglect that fact. Wired Magazine is ridiculously optimistic in it's view of technology and rarely if ever gives voice to the potential negative ramifications of new developments. It is merely an very elaborate advertising supplement.

Oct. 18 2010 01:17 PM
Mike C. from Tribeca

As far as I've been able to tell, what technology wants is as much of my paycheck as it can finagle out of me.

Oct. 18 2010 12:17 PM

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