What Technology Wants

What Technology Wants

by Kevin Kelly


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From the author of the New York Times bestseller The Inevitable— a sweeping vision of technology as a living force that can expand our individual potential 


In this provocative book, one of today's most respected thinkers turns the conversation about technology on its head by viewing technology as a natural system, an extension of biological evolution. By mapping the behavior of life, we paradoxically get a glimpse at where technology is headed-or "what it wants." Kevin Kelly offers a dozen trajectories in the coming decades for this near-living system. And as we align ourselves with technology's agenda, we can capture its colossal potential. This visionary and optimistic book explores how technology gives our lives greater meaning and is a must-read for anyone curious about the future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143120179
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/27/2011
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 337,056
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Kevin Kelly is the cofounder of Wired magazine and was its executive editor for its first seven years. He has written for The New York Times, The Economist, Science, Time, and The Wall Street Journal. His previous books include the bestselling New Rules for the New Economy.

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From the Publisher

"A sharp-eyed study of our abiding need for cars, computers and gadgets." —-The New York Times

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What Technology Wants 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
miha on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not entirely convincing about technology wanting anything, but certainly food for though about technology going somewhere very stubbornly.
paulkeller on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
in one word disappointing (or to be more fair, i probably expected something better). his argument is suffocated by the excessive amount of examples that he uses. also in my book adding example to example does not automatically lead to a valid theory. i guess that his original insight, that technology (or the technium) has certain characteristics that operate on its own behalf is a fairly important realisation. on the other hand i am not entirely convinced that the technium really operates on itself. to me it seems more like a higher level abstraction of human choices, mixed in with a bit of opaque interaction between algorithms (at least at this moment in time). also i am almost allergic to the cosmic arc pseudo religious undertone that he manages to keep from dominating his book until the completely unbearable last chapter (which should begin with a warning urging people who are allergic to new age hippie reasoning to stop reading)
haig51 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like Père Teilhard's 'The Phenomenon of Man', Kevin Kelly takes up the sweeping subject of cosmic evolution, both past and future, but this time specifically focusing on the part of the universe that has, in recent times, occupied the forefront of our zeitgeist, technology. Whenever approaching such an all-encompassing and far-reaching topic such as this, one must tread extremely carefully or else risk straying quickly into drivel-laden speculations. Teilhard's treatise is an example of this, as it was wrought with factual errors, anti-scientific biases, and tendencies towards mystical nonsense, and I cannot recommend enough the famous critical review of his book by the inimitable Sir Peter Medawar. Fortunately, though 'What Technology Wants' covers similar grounds, it does not deserve a similarly scathing response. Where Teilhard approached his subject from the perspective of theology, with all the dogmatic baggage one would expect from such a position, Kelly can be seen as a modern day shaman. As our ancestors saw spirits in the natural surroundings of their environment, Kelly, too, can be described as seeing analogous spirits animating the technological environment which we increasingly find ourselves in. Though these stories don't offer us the detail and rigor of a complete scientific explanation, they do give us what the stories of spirits gave our ancestors, a way to connect and live with and within our world. The majority of what Kelly describes as the 'Technium', his neologism for the sphere of technology which comprises all things that were 'made not born', should not bother even the most stringently and scientifically literal-minded among us. Most of what he writes consists of informed observations of trends and thoughtful extrapolations. There is, however, one contentious issue that plays a fundamental role in propping up the more conjectural of Kelly's disquisition, and that is the idea of what I'd call 'strong' convergent evolution. Roughly, because of the way the universe is structured and the way physical laws play out, there are certain inevitabilities which arise through the course of the cosmos' evolution. Most scientists are on board with a weak version of this, accepting that, for example, camera and compound eyes are bound to arise in similar environments to earth's eventually through natural selection, but Kelly ascribes to a much stronger version of this concept, believing that the infinite possible arrangements of how matter evolves are so constrained that biological life, and its offshoot, the technium, will bear strikingly similar forms to what we now see, even if we run back the history of the universe over and over again. This is the exact opposite of how Stephen J. Gould famously explained the process of evolution, and how most evolutionary biologists would describe the process today. I think there might be some room in orthodox evolutionary theory to allow for this, but it is certainly not the consensus, and so his musings of technological progress that are based on this 'strong' version of convergence is not as surefooted as his other ideas, though they may turn out to be prescient. That is the gamble one takes when you overreach with your imagination, but in this case Kelly still might beat the odds.
jasonli on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"What Technology Wants" posits that technology, as a whole, as a complex ecosystem, can be considered the seventh kingdom of life. Kelly manages to back this far-fetched claim with prescient examples from history, biology and social science while making astute observations about technology's continuing evolution.The book reads like a long, well-articulated manifesto, which is also its weak point. I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the book, the buildup to Kelly's main argument and being exposed to a fresh perspective. However, my interest waned during the second half, partially because I was already sold on the main idea and partially because Kelly launches into a series of abstract forecasts. Despite this ebb in momentum, the book is packed throughout with some of the best observations and insights about the nature of technology I've ever read.Excuse the pun.
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
In this fascinating book, Kevin Kelly, a co-founder and executive editor of Wired magazine, draws on a broad range of disciplines to make synthesizing observations about the relationship of technology to life. Unlike many contemporary writers, Kelly uses the term “technology” broadly. He isn’t just talking about the newest electronic gadgets; rather, he traces a history that reaches from chipped stone tools to the latest tech toys. Most readers will find some places where Kelly’s argument goes too far or slides past an objection, but anyone who dips into his treatise will find it compellingly written and vastly intriguing. getAbstract recommends this thought-provoking work to futurists, planners, innovators, and those interested in human nature and history.
Ravenquill More than 1 year ago
Strictly speaking, this book is more philosophy than science, but it is a grand thought experiment at that! The author argues compellingly that the progress of culture and technology are a continuation of the process of biological evolution, itself a continuation of the self-organization of matter through physical and chemical processes stretching back to the start of the universe.
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NewMommy More than 1 year ago
Kevin is a genius -- literally. I loved getting his back story. Makes reading everything else he's written even more powerful.
Prince_Jerome More than 1 year ago
Heres a great piece of work. Excellent for those new, and experienced with futurism,technological singularity, or the Technium as Kevin Kelly has referred to it as. For the full PlusUltraTech review check out our dot com site.
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