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.


find/follow Kevin:

link twitter

wikipedia small






his site:

kevin kelly site










@kevin2kelly’s SXSW talk on steering new technologies by embracing them instead of fearing them. One fine hour.

Original Tweet:

12 Inevitable Tech Forces That Will Shape Our Future | SXSW Interactive 2016

embracing is the best way to steer what’s coming

1\ ai – i say cognification – because there’s so much (baggage) we associate with intelligence.. i’m talking something more mechanical.. to cognify things… ie’s..

5 min – convergence of 3 tech factors (w/in last 5-10 yrs): 1\ neruonets – imitating neurology of brain.. and learned to stack them..2\ from gaming – chips that could do process in parallel.. cheap enough.. 3\ huge treasure of data for training, ie: millions of images et al

8 min – what we get out of that – ai that beats go

10 min – artificial smartness… ie: in arithmetic..not scary but useful… as navigator…

12 min – ai that is a utility.. not human like.. boring.. can’t fall in love with.. that’s their virtue… free of consciousness.. so not distracted…

i think we’ll get over our urge to make ai like us.. and make it not like us..not that it’s smarter than human .. but that can think different

14 min – ai generated to become a service..

15 min – formula… take something, x, .. and add ai…  become so much of a commodity… take ai and add x.. ai not that special.. it’s what you do with it

16 min – more people use ai – the smarter it gets

so imagine self-talk as data –  as the day.. so 7 billion plus people using it 24/7

a nother way

19 min – any job that can be specified in terms of productivity will go to robots… productivity is for robots… i believe a lot of jobs we’re doing now we’ll be ashamed that humans did

22 min – creativity is not productive, science is not very efficient, innovation is highly inefficient process… so let efficiency go to the robots.. and we’ll take everything based around experiences/relationships…

24 min –

2\ vr – hasn’t gotten a thousand times better.. but it did get a million times cheaper.. because of phone tech (screens, tracking, processors)

40 min –

3\ tracking – for things to happen in real time and to be personal.. we have to track

phone we buy and put in pocket. tracked.

vr is something we get into. tracked.

45 min – on intro – ing a co veillance…

46 min – vanity trumps privacy…

47 min – believe in the impossible more often

things not invented yet.. means you have to invent them.. that means you are not late..

51 min – if i’m worried about anything – it’s the weapon ization of ai…

gershenfeld something else law

we don’t have consensus on what should be allowed as a country…

or.. perhaps we create a seemingly impossible – other way to live – where we disengage from the need for consensus et al


“You’re as young as the last time you changed your mind” @kevin2kelly @iftf #everythingismedia closing keynote

Original Tweet:

indeed.. bravery to change mind ness.

begs we imagine a world where tech facilitate whimsy..

for (blank)’s sake

a nother way

ie: hosting life bits via self talk as data et al.. as the day..


july 2016 – interview via Nikola

Enjoying @singularityblog’s new interview with @kevin2kelly #future

Original Tweet:

16 min – on amish getting more conservative.. the further away from hq

20 min – 1\ learn how you learn 2\ honesty 3\ cost of tech – ecosystem view

28 min – what tech wants.. was a crude prototype of a theory of tech… more than a philosophy.. a theory.. i’m suggesting there’s a theory behind tech.. the origins of tech.. way deeper..

30 min – this book – not as cosmic.. more of shorter view.. specifically.. how would these trends/trajectories… operate in next 30 years… so closer view of same in what tech wants

32 min – i see evolution of having directions.. not just one.. evolution is not a ladder.. going up to an omega point.. i see this as directions with multiplicity going outward.. these directions.. multiple.. so not going to a fixed place..

34 min – it’s teleological.. but not converging on an endpoint.. there are purposes.. but not singular.. not anti teleological.. but anti-singularity

the inevitabilities are actually  plural… the specifics.. completely unpredictable..

35 min – basic forms.. baked into very nature of physics.. how chips/wires/electrons work.. those large forms are inevitable.. but the particulars aren’t.. and we have a choice about them.. internet.. inevitable.. but what kind.. up to us… engage in large trends and steer it.. only by engaging in tech can we steer into particulars we want…

embrace the increasing ai/tracking/et al… then much more change of optimizing benefits and minimizing harms..

38 min – on titles of books…  can confuse people who have read/grokked them..

39 min – people upset about.. rebel about ..anything being inevitable.. but we have plenty of room for free will… it’s a matter of taking better advantage of things we do have choice..

40 min – on determinism.. i think in this cosmos.. this long trend of increasing extropy in world of increasing entropy.. we have these pockets of intelligent order arising.. out of the general trend of increasing entropy.. the way you make this order is increasing entropy.. that pathway is .. creative constraint.. ie: fixed number of chemical elements… certain constraints in what you can make through self-org evolution.. so .. there is a narrow pathway.. not like every step of the way we have no free will.. but there’s free will that’s bounded in some way…

42 min – i go with the freeman diesen – the cosmic decay/spin is actually not a random event.. it’s an act of free will.. it’s a choosing.. it’s free will.. even though nothing complicated.. that choice is the foundation of all the free will.. something happening that’s not random and not just order… the occurence of free will in us.. is because it exists before us.. a cosmic force that large systems amplify.. so randomness and free will..

44 min – reading of thesis – 12 forces that will shape next 30 yrs: becoming, cognifying, flowing, screening, accessing, sharing, filtering, remixing, interacting, tracking, questioning, beginning..

45 min – why beginning at end.. i belief that in compared to what we have in 30 yrs.. we’ll look back and feel like we haven’t even started..

unless.. – a nother way

be at a scale.. planetary.. that we can only call a birth.. not just extension.. but the birth of something new.. this planetary super organism… where we’re weaving together 8 bill humans and 8 trill devices and the entire technium and … nature.. and… converging over time..

let’s start now.. hosting-life-bits..

48 min – beyond a metaphor.. a real thing we’ll be able to measure.. quantify.. we’ll understand that it’s a real thing

? – real .. is more from experience .. than from measuring/quantifying.. no?

49 min – way for it to happen – if moore’s law stopped… all along.. it’s been changing it’s defn.. formally.. we’ll start to measure something else.. and we’ll go back and redraw line.. and it will be same line.. but if it is to truly stop…ie: increasing every year.. that will have a huge impact… because this is all based on an assumption of continual process.. if that stopped.. that will cabash everything..

50 min – i think we’ll redefine moore’s law.. ie: go to 3-d.. something else we’ll start to measure.. if what we’re talking about really stopped.. would be so huge.. it would mean.. every year.. nothing would improve.. it would be really really tough if that were true.. i think they way we measure moore’s law is ending.. ie: no longer size is that critical .. but if the power is increasing…

52 min – that one data point is not enough.. other ways to show growth..

53 min – a trillion times anything is qualitatively diff… (size of elephant).. so if trill times more power.. it would be quantitatively diff

55 min – in book: my intent.. uncover roots of digital change so we can embrace them.. get ongoing process right and will keep generating ongoing benefits.. processes trump products… (the 12)

the one i think is by far the most profound/altering of the 12 – cognifying.. ai.. touching every aspect of our lives..

56 min – analogy – 1st industrial revolution – artificial power/energy.. enabled us to build everything we’re surrounded in ..

57 min – now about to do something more powerful.. ai.. added to artificial power.. mult that by 1 mill…  that’s the vision.. we have this infrastructure of applied artificial smartness/learning.. cognify.. and everything we electrify we’re going to cognify… not anything to do about smarter than humans.. erroneous view of world… the view of intelligence as single dimension.. iq.. that’ fundamentally wrong.. because our own intelligence are these suites… maybe hundreds of diff types..  and animals have a suite of them as well… louder or quieter than in humans.. when we make ai.. going to be same thing… ie: calculator smarter than you are in arithmetic.. but only in certain dimensions… when add more dimensions.. hard to say one thing is smarter than other…

1:01 – one thing about ai.. going to think differently than us..  try to populate/engineer/invent as many diff types of thinking.. smarter than humans in some directions but not all… be able to think about things in thinking ways that we as humans could not… things we couldn’t do before.. working in partner with them.. no sense they’re against us.. they are niches that are going to be.. not in our niche..

1:02 – people say human intelligence is a gen purpose intelligence.. and that’s wrong..  we’ll discover there are intelligences way off to the corner.. there’s not a gen purpose intelligence

i’m thinking.. interpretive labor ness… a not needing words ness…

1:04 – no such thing as a gen purpose.. you can have a combo.. there’s no universal intelligence… most people think it’s just that ai thinks faster.. as soon as mapping as.. thinking diff.. this whole mapping as smarter than human in not right..

1:05 – even though the concept of smarter than human is not valid.. it doesn’t mean there aren’t worries/concerns (concern not worry).. we have to imagine..

1:06 – ie: as we make ai more complex.. less able to understand them.. like have 1 mill steps.. so no human can deconstruct.. so we have to take that proof at face value.. even if we can’t understand.. then we have to accept we don’t have access to that.. issue.. they may at times be prejudice.. and we couldn’t determine that.. how to deal with that is going to be a huge challenge.. i think there may be tech tools for that…  

if we have things in our lives making decisions that we don’t have access to.. that is a potential societal issue..

so we just let ai do math/documentation w no bias.. (because tech can and humans can’t – have no bias) .. and let humans make decisions.. everyday..

ie: emergence by Steven Johnson

p 215

we are beginning to see that such important elements as the neurons, the atoms of the nervous complex of our body, do their work under much the same conditions as vacuum tubes,

are we sure..? how sure.?

w their relatively small power supplied from outside by the circulation, and that the bookkeeping which is most essential to describe their function is not one of energy.

so.. let’s outsource the bookkeeping and the math.. [kevin kelly’s recent interview with Nikola)


mech to facil that..

1:09 – i’m a pro topian.. because i believe solutions to problems is more/better tech.. which will generate more problems and solutions to those.. more/better tech.. ongoing.. never stopping.. if we can create even more than 1% than we destroy every year..

1:11 – that utopia of increasing toward betterment

1:12 – we ave 1 species per year loss.. for past 2000 yrs.. if you just look at data.. isn’t a anthropocene loss.. it’s actually getting better than 50 yrs again.. the climate thing is an issue.. we should be alarmed .. we don’t have data to show that..


1:14 – the statistical analysis shows we could be getting better..

1:15 – we’re getting very good at tech answering questions.. 1 bill a day.. most of those questions .. 30 yrs ago.. would have never been asked.. questions no one even knew wanted to be asked.. now if you want an answer.. you ask a machine.. therefore as these become abundant.. we see our role in not answering questions.. but asking more and more difficult questions..

1:16 – automation is good for doing things that are efficient…so that goes to the robots.. what we’re left are things that are very inefficient.. ie: exploration, innovation – a type of questioning.. what if.. 

so what i was saying above.. decisions are inefficient.. or could say.. efficient if able to be always changing.. (so inefficient to machine)

efficiency ness

kelly efficiency law

human relationships… inefficient.. so we are moving into this area which will be our strength.. asking good questions.. that’s where our strength is compared to the machines…

1:19 – art is a question that’s not answerable..

things don’t have to always be pragmatic/useful..

how do you know if a question is unanswerable..  question become the essential thing..

1:23 – i believe that .. very optimistic.. at precipice of whole new continent of benefits.. outweigh problems.. we’re increasing number of choices/possibilities.. number of ways we can collab/coop/make stuff together.. at scale/speed  never before possible.. ai as a probe/scope.. we’re at beginning of this.. each one of these opps open up new worlds.. that extension into the cosmos..  make another mind to think with us to next step..

making more and more possible for every human on this planet.. to have a chance to express their genius and to share it..

a nother way..

fundamental first: clean water, ed, … but in addition that every person born.. allowed to express genius.. that’s what we get out of making more tech.. not just to speed up movement of money.. not just to have more stuff.. to participate…

answer holds us in a spot – nikola

1:28 – the infinite game.. you play to keep game going and make it better.. you hack rules to keep it going..


tedsummit jun 2016 – How AI can bring on a second Industrial Revolution

tech of all systems have leanings/urgencies/tendencies.. via making recurring patterns

i would say.. telephone was inevitable but iphone was not… internet was inevitable but twitter was not

right now.. i think one of our chief tendencies.. is to make things smarter and smarter.. i call it cognifying.. cognification…also known as ai.. most influential trend in society in next 20 yrs..

we have it now.. often works in ie: back rooms in hospitals.. lawyer offices.. flying planes..  netflix/amazon making req’s… one in forefront.. alpha go..

but it’s more than that.. teaching video games was already done.. but learning to play is another step.. taking artificial smartness and making it smarter and smarter..

3 trends underappreciated.. will help us embrace/steer ai

1\ our own intelligence has a poor understanding of what intelligence is… ie: think it gets louder and louder.. ie: single iq getting greater and greater.. that’s wrong.. more like a symphony.. many types of cognition..  ie: deduction/spatial/emotional.. maybe 100 of them.. so.. we’ll take these clusters.. and add more variety ais.. and make them very specific.. ie: calculator smarter than you are in calculation.. the whole feature of the self driving car is it’s not like us.. not distracted… make as many diff types of thinking..

2\ use ai to make 2nd industrial revolution   1st – based on artificial power.. take industrial pump and ad ai pump.. so now smart pump… everything we had electrified we’re not going to cognify… formula.. take x and add ai

3\ we get robots.. doing many tasks we have already done.. a job is just a bunch of tasks.. so will redefine our jobs.. but will also create a whole slew of new jobs we never had done before.. just as automation did for us.. ai will create more jobs than they will take away… efficiency/productivity goes for the bots… wasting-time/inefficiency/science for us.. (art/relationships.. et al)…  will be working with these bots.. i think you’ll be paid in future by how well you work with these bots..

25 yrs from now.. will look back and say.. you didn’t have ai.. you didn’t have internet.. lot of expertise and money going to ai.. but none really compared to 20 yrs from now.. we’re in the first hour… the most popular ai product 20 yrs from now.. not invented yet.. that means.. you’re not late