Kevin Kelly: What Technology Wants.

Kelly introduces his book with a discussion around his attempts to define his relationship with technology. He further conveys to his readers a struggle to balance his relationships with technology and nature, or the ‘made’ versus the ‘born’, in his life. These unresolved feelings or urges to define and organize technology and nature come from a constant push from society to buy into these new technologies: the “hot/new” gadget or the “improved” smart phone.

Later in his book, Kelly states that the technium is necessary for the advancement of our societies. However, he also states that we are responsible for how we use said technology. Yes, we choose create these advancements, however, it is also up to us to choose to create and implement advancements that will bring forth positive results. However the advancements of the technium are constantly evolving and are comparable to that of the infinite game. 

The introduction to Kelly’s book urged me to begin thinking about the role technology plays in my life – growing up in an age where electronics are everywhere. Particularly the points in my life where I felt that I ‘needed’ a computer or internet at home; and as a result feeling ‘less than’ or ‘left behind’ in society due to a lack of those things. I immediately connected with the Henry Jenkins’ theory around the Participation Gap in his text Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education in the 21st Century. If technology is so important to our societies, how are we providing supports for those who do not have access? And as technology evolves and advances, how do we catch up?

selections from the text:

“There is a nest of ants somewhere beneath my family’s house. The ants, if we let them—and we won’t—would carry off most of the food in our pantry. We humans are obliged to obey nature, except that sometimes we are forced to thwart it. While we bow to nature’s beauty, we also frequently take out a machete and temporarily hack it back. We weave clothes to keep the natural world away from us, and we concoct vaccines to inoculate us against its mortal diseases. We rush to the wilderness to be rejuvenated, but we bring our tents.” (Kelly pp. 17).

“When I trace the full course of the technium, I would say, definitely, yes. The technium is necessary for human betterment. How else are we going to change? A special subset of humans will find the constrained choices available in, say, a monastery cell or the tiny opportunities in a hermit’s hut on the edge of a pond or in the deliberately restricted horizon of a wandering guru to be the ideal path to betterment. But most humans, at most moments in history, see the accumulating pile of possibilities in a rich civilization as something that makes them better people. That’s why we make civilization/technology. That’s why we have tools. They produce choices, including the choice for good.” (Kelly pp.348).

“A world with more opportunities produces more people capable of producing yet more opportunities. That’s the strange loop of bootstrapping creation, which constantly makes offspring superior to itself.” (Kelly pp. 351)



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