What Does Technology Want?

Over the past few weeks we have taken a roller coaster ride on the ups and downs (the good, the bad, the wonderful, and the ugly) of the effect of digital technology on society and in people’s lives. Today, we continue that ride by asking: what does technology want?

Kevin Kelly: is the founding executive editor of Wired Magazine. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Economist, Time, The Smithsonian, Harpers, Science, GQ, Wall Street Journal and Esquire. Kelly created the Cool Tools website, which began as a simple email list in the year 2000 as a means of recommending the best, cheapest tools available. Among the many projects he has been involved in, he is a member of the board of directors of The Long Now Foundation, an organization established in 1996 to creatively foster long-term thinking and responsibility about the next 10,000 years.

While exploring the consequences of technology, Kelly once gave up all his possessions and rode a bicycle 3,000 miles across America. His most recent book, What Technology Wants, asks what appears to be his life’s core question: “How should I think about new technology when it comes along?” Kevin Kelly Bio & TED Talks

Somewhere, today, there are millions of young children being born whose technology of self-expression has not yet been invented. We have a moral obligation to invent technology so that every person on the globe has the potential to realize their true difference. We want a trillion zillion species of one individuals. -Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly’s framework for technology:
• It becomes increasingly specialized.
• It is a cosmic force the gives us new means to evolve.
• It brings us infinite differences, freedom, choices, and possibilities.
• It is a method for generating better ideas.
• When it diverts from what we want – find a better home for it.

An Evolutionary Example:

Thoughts & Questions for Discussion
• What IS Kevin Kelly talking about???
• How can we all help technology evolve ‘better’?
• In what ways has digital technology enabled US to evolve?
• Is technology helping us become better versions of ourselves?
• What are some technologies we have already found better jobs for?
• What are some technologies that need a better job?
• Another (r)evolutionary example – The Ultimate Empathy Machine
• And of course, technology has given us mashups – in which consumers become producers (and defy copyright law). Fun!

3 Comments on “What Does Technology Want?

  1. What technology did President Obama use as a child, one middle-schooler asked. Obama replied: “Pencils, pens, colored markers, and eraser, scissors, . . . .rulers, staplers.” He was visiting a middle school in D.C. to announce that nine publishers had agreed to provide students from low-income neighborhoods and schools access to over 10,000 titles as a way to provide more equity between rich kids and poor kids. For details, see “Obama links kids with more e-books.”



  2. Dear All, a more direct link to the story about Obama linking kids with more e-books.

    “After Spain, the United States has the highest child poverty rate of all major developed nations, with one in every three American children living in poverty. Among minority groups, the poverty rate is even higher, with four out of every 10 black children growing up poor.”


    But: http://www.ehow.com/info_7851880_countries-offer-university-education.html

  3. A higher level question is, what did our universe want from our creation? By observation, human “learning”. Humans and their tools, technology, have continued to learn more about our universe, from its strange quantum particles, to galaxies 14+ billion light years away. Our universe also has “dark” energy and mass that do things we do not know, how they do them. And, yet we have a lot more left to learn about, ourselves. Our learning comes from the very life energy that animates us to learn. That is what our world and technology want, learning. Some would say, learning our life lessons.

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