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What Technology Wants Summary

Here is the What Technology Wants summary. Learn what technology wants by gaining insights from natural systems. Also realize that technology can be an extension of biological evolution.


What Technology Wants author Kevin Kelly explains that we can get a glimpse of where technology is headed if we map the behavior of life. The natural systems already provide us with the best examples.

Technology still has a colossal potential. But we can only get an idea about its potential if we view it as an extension of biological evolution. Then technology will be able to give our lives greater meaning. This is a good read for anyone curious and excited about the future.

About the Author

Kevin Kelly is the founding executive editor of Wired Magazine. He was also the former editor and publisher of the Whole Earth Review. He has also been a conservationist and digital culture student.

Aside from What Technology Wants, he also wrote Out of Control and The Inevitable. He also wrote a popular article titled 1000 True Fans.

Main takeaways: What Technology Wants Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from his book:

  1. We are literally and figuratively transformed by technology.
  2. Each new technology creates more problems than it solves.
  3. Technology wants what life wants.

We are literally and figuratively transformed by technology

It’s now hard to imagine life without the technology we have right now. The internet, smartphones, our appliances, our mode of transportation. Almost everything in our lives is affected by technology.

Technology also serves as an extension of our bodies and senses. Telescopes extend the range of our eyes. Clothes serve somewhat like an extension of our skin. The internet somewhat serves as an extension of our brains.

Literally and figuratively, technology transforms us. Technology also shapes our history. Let’s look at the wheel. It’s an ancient invention. But it actually changed the course of history. Transport became easier because of the wheel.

Let’s look at the computers and internet. They literally altered the course of history. Many industries became possible because of the internet and computers. Many new careers were made. Companies and governments also took advantage of the new technologies.

Technology greatly affects the history. If we’re trying to predict the future, we should include technology in our thinking. What are the new technologies that will emerge? Those new technologies will shape the future.

Each new technology creates more problems than it solves

Yes that’s true in every field. Let’s look at the automotive industry. Having a car is a much more convenient option than having a horse or walking by yourself in long distance.

But there are also problems associated with people having cars. There’s heavy traffic. It causes daily stress especially if we use the car for going to work. There’s also the road rage. Fatal accidents also occur.

Also look at the oil industry. When we start harnessing the power of oil, we accelerated the technological and industrial progress. But now there are concerns about pollution because of its carbon footprint.

Those problems are inevitable. It’s easy and exciting to visualize the innovations. But it’s not easy to visualize the possible consequences. People see an invention as foreign. We often don’t know what to think or do with it.

Scientists and engineers are working hard to solve those problems. By solving those problems, they create new technologies. It’s just a part of life. There are always consequences.

Technology wants what life wants

What does life want? One thing that comes to mind is efficiency. Natural systems always pursue the path of least resistance and effort. Nature always want to get the most out of its resources. The same goes to technology. Waste not is what industries and people want.

Life also wants increasing diversity. Many new species are still appearing despite extinction of others. Life wants variety. The same goes with technology and humans.

Life also wants increasing complexity. From an evolutionary perspective, we’ve evolved from a single-celled organism into the most dominant life form in this planet. Our bodies are much more complex compared to unicellular organisms. The same goes with technology. A wheel is a simple technology. Compare it with a car. The parts are much more complex and all of those parts should work well together.

So if we want to know what are the potentials of technology, let’s look at life itself. Look at the natural systems. How do they evolve? How did they achieved evolutionary success? What does life want? What does life will do next?

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