Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What Technology Wants

Kevin Kelly's What Technology Wants was a pretty good read, but I found myself disagreeing on a fundamental point... I don't like that it treats technology as something separate from humanity. Perhaps I'd feel differently if I hadn't read The Artificial Ape: How Technology Changed the Course of Human Evolution first, but I did. That book's argument that humanity is ipso facto a product of our technology as well as a creator of it is very strong. Without technology we are a failed experiment, unable to even eat successfully; with it we are the dominant species, and can allow evolutionary flaws to propagate without consequence. Instead of a truly solid book, What Technology Wants ends up as an interesting collection of factoids and anecdotes. Furthermore, it seems conflicted; Kelly has obviously thought a lot about this and seems to have reached similar conclusions; the chapter on the Unabomber is clear, and there are continual references to the willingness of poor people to trade anything for more technology. I suspect that compromises were made for publication.

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