October 14, 2010
In this provocative book, Kevin Kelly introduces a brand-new world of technology. He suggests that technology as a whole is not a jumble of wires and metal but a living, natural system whose origins go all the way back to the beginning of life. And just as biological evolution has unconscious tendencies, so too does technology. By following these long-term tendencies we can get an idea of “what technology wants.”
We can also get an idea of where technology is going by extrapolating life’s past four-billion-year-old arc into the future. In What Technology Wants, Kelly projects a dozen trajectories for technology in the coming decades, including its insatiable tendency to create minds. But to maximize the benefits of the built world requires a sensitivity to the problems and costs of this global system. Kelly recounts the wisdom to be learned from Amish “early adopters” and other critics of technology’s selfishness.
Kelly’s new theory of technology offers three practical lessons: By listening to what technology wants, we can better prepare ourselves and our children for the inevitable technologies to come. By adopting the principle of proaction and engagement, we can steer technologies into their best roles. And by aligning ourselves with the long-term imperatives of this near-living system, we can capture its full gifts.
According to Kelly, we have accumulated technology since the dawn of humanity because it increases the opportunities for each of us individually. We have a moral duty to further increase the amount of technology in the world because as we do we increase the options and opportunities for others. An innovative and optimistic guide to how technology can give our lives greater meaning, What Technology Wants celebrates the immense power of technology as a very positive force in the world.
Kevin Kelly helped launch Wired magazine and was its executive editor for its for seven years. He is written for The New York Times, The Economist, Science, Time, and the Wall Street Journal among many other publications. His previous books include Out of Control and the bestselling New Rules for the New Economy. He lives in Pacifica, California. His website is www.kk.org.