kevin kelly – what tech wants

kevin kelly bw

Great insight into what matters.

What Tech Wants, it really is up to us.

what tech wants quote

About Kevin.. this tweet says it well:

@instigating: always provoking, @kevin2kelly

and is in regard to the post –  how we will read – where he says:

I don’t know. I go around saying we have to believe in the impossible. That’s what I’ve learned from this time on the Internet — believe the impossible. Wikipedia is impossible. Everything we know about human nature says that Wikipedia cannot happen, but there it is. That should help us learn to believe in the impossible. It’s economically impossible to have Google EarthGoogle Street Maps, stock quotes for free, weather all around the world — it’s economically impossible to have all these things. But we have them all for free. We have to learn to expect the impossible.

Perhaps tech can help hasten the time between – you finding out what matters – and you finding your people.


Every minute a new impossible thing is uploaded to the internet and that improbable event becomes just one of hundreds of extraordinary events that we’ll see or hear about today. The internet is like a lens which focuses the extraordinary into a beam, and that beam has become our illumination. It compresses the unlikely into a small viewable band of everyday-ness. As long as we are online – which is almost all day many days — we are illuminated by this compressed extraordinariness. It is the new normal.

Intimacy with the improbable cultivates an expanded sense of what is possible.

[posted on fb by Kevin] – I expand further here:



interview from edge – feb 2014:

2 min – seems what technology wants – is to track – so how to work with that

5 min – protopian – tech can become good or bad.. but w/each new we have choice – and that leads incrementally/accumulating toward good

7 min – primarily what tech is – and why we keep making it – it gives us choice

52 min – there’s this pressure to be the same if we’re connected… but the power of being connected is by remaining different. can you remain different while connected..


The following – quotes from What Tech Wants (will clean up soon – or not):

book links to amazon

p. 236 – what tech brings is expanding choices… which allow us to be us.
writing in 1950, sociologist David Riesman: ” the more advance the technology, on the whole, the more possible it is for a considerable number of human beings to imagine being somebody else.”
we expand technology to findout who we are and who we can be.

upon studying amish, hippies, wendell berry and eric brende – who believe they don’t need exploding tech to expand themselves. they are all minimalists. but – have they traded contentment for revelation. have they discovered, can they even, who they can become.
this is fine for them, but what if everyone does it, the optimization of choice collapses.
by constraining the wuite of acceptable occupations and narrowing education, the amish are holding back possiblilites not just for their children but indeirctly for all.

unlike the amish and minimites, the tens of millions of migrants headed into cities each year may invent a tool that will unleash choices for someone else. if they don’t, then their children will.

our mission as humans is not only to discover our fullest selves in the technium, and to find full contentment, but to expand the possiblilites fo rothers

the amish and minimites have important lessons to teach us about selectingwhat we embrace.

i do want to be choosy about what i spend time mastering. i want to be able to back out of things that don’t work out. i do want the minimum because i’ve learned that i have limited time and attentions

ownership of choices
we owe the amish hackers a large debt… through their lives we can see the technium’s dilemma very clearly:
to maximize our own contentment, we see the  
minimum amount of technology in our lives.
yet to maximixe the contentment of others, we must
maximize the amount of technology in the world. 

we can only find out own minimal tools if others have created a sufficient maximum pool of options we can choose from. the dilemma remains in how we can personally minimize stuff close to us while trying to expand it globally.

p. 244 – we can learn much from disruptive technologies
switching occupations is the norm for tech.. and invention requires many encounters with early adopters and collisions with other inventions to refine its role in the technium.

we make prediction more difficult because our immediate tendency is to imagine the new thing doing and old job better. (school, no?0
we are stuck in the same blindness.
ie: the advertisers pitched the telephone as if it were a more convenient telegraph. none of them suggested having a conversation.
technologies shift as they thrives. they are remade as they are used…
they bring completely unpredicted effects as they near ubiquity.

if we examine technologies honestly, each one has its faults as well as its virtues.. in fact, an invention or idea is not really tremendous unless it can be tremendously abused.

p. 246

first law of technological expectations:
the greater the promise of a new tech, the greater the potential for harm as well
so comes precautionary principle (first crafted in 1992) most recent version states: activities that present an uncertain potential for significant harm should be prohibited unless the proponent of the activity shows that it presents no appreciable risk of harm.    [aup's, cipa, etc]

so – a tech must be shown to do no harm before it is embraced.
so – precautionary principle is very very good for one thing – stopping technological progress,
via cass r sunstein, we must challenge the precautionary principle not because it leads in bad directions, but because read for all it is worht, it leads in no direction at all.

every good produces harm soemwhere.
ie: malaria infects 300-500 mill, casing 2 mill deaths per year, it’s debilitating to those who don’t die and leads to cyclic poverty. but in the 1950’s the level of malaria was reduced by 70% via ddt. it was so successful however, farmers eagerly sprayed it by the tons on cotton fields, so got into water cycles and into fa cells in animals, drop in reproduction rates for some predatory birds and die-offs in some fish and aquatic life species. so banned in 1972. and malaria cases in asia and africa rose again to deadly pre-50’s levels.
plans to reintroduce ddt for households were blockded by the world bank, etc 1991 treaty by 91 countries – phase out ddt altogheter. ddt was probably bad, better safe than sorry. in fact ddt had never been shown to hurt humans, and the environmental farm from the miniscule amoutns of ddt applied in homes had not been measured. but nobody could prove it did not cause harm,despite its proven ability to do good.

risk aversion

we now know that people will accept a thousand times as much risk for tech or situations that are voluntary rather than madatory.
ie: you don’t have a choice where you get your tap water, so you are less tolerant in regard to its safety than you might be from using a cell phone of your choice.

also – the acceptability of risk is directly influence by how easy it is to imagine both the worst case and the best benefits, and that these are determiend by ed, advertising, rumor and imagination.

generally – safety trumps innovation

(will add more soon – or not)


perhaps what tech wants – are things like this..

choose our future



up to us..


kevin kelly on the shirky principle


Audrey has a good point about the monsters we create and/or abandon – with the notion of – what tech wants ness. urging us to reclaim ownership.. in her sept 2014 talk – uk.


interview with Jaron Lanier – sept 2014:

For me, the very most important thing about VR was that when you were in it, you’d feel your own existence, in the sense that if all the sensory input is artificial, then what’s floating there, that’s your consciousness. So to me, it was sort of proof that subjectivity is real; that consciousness is real, that it’s not just a construct that we put on things. Just to notice that you really exist, to me, was the very, very core of it. There were a zillion and one variations on that that [could] become really vivid and colorful in different ways. But that was always the core for me. And extending from that, this possibility of a kind of communication that would involve directly creating what people sense in common instead of relying as much on symbols such as words.


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