The Purpose For The Parade of Technology Novelty

Kevin Kelly helped launch Wired magazine and was its executive editor for its first seven years. He has written for seemingly every publication  and  his previous books include Out of Control, New Rules for the New Economy, Cool Tools, and What Technology Wants. His present position is described as the Senior Maverick at Wired,. Kevin can now add being a guest on the Business901 podcast and he will appear next week to discuss his new book The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future.

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe:   Is that the promise of this trend for us, or are we just producing technology for the sake of technology, because it’s there?

Kevin Kelly:  That’s a really, really good question and the background is, the unsaid part is that these new things often generate a lot of problems. I might say they generate almost as many problems as they solve. With the coming of AI or VR, whatever we want to talk about, there’s going to be huge, huge challenges and problems and things that are harmful. What do we get out of it? I mean if it’s not all sweet goodness, then why tolerate this endless parade of novelty? The answer is very simple; I think what we get out of individually and societally is we get more options, more choices, more possibilities. Which is important and good because each one of us is born with a different set of abilities, of views, potential and so they’re a little different.

What we want to have is we want to have the tools necessary so that every person born would have a chance to share their genius. If you would imagine Beethoven being born, let’s say 2000 years before there were music instruments like a piano, or a violin or the symphony. What a loss to the world and to Beethoven that those things did not exist. Maybe he could drum, but as good as a drummer as he would have been, we would be missing this genius. If the people invented those later on, but others, Mozart, to share their genius, or imagine of Hitchcock or Lucas had been born thousands of years before we invested cinema technology. What a loss to them and to us.

There are people born today, being young people or people to be born in the future who are waiting for us to invent their tools that they can use to share their genius, and so we have a moral obligation to actually increasing all this stuff. Even if there is a sense in which this stuff is just being produced for its own sake, it’s actually not. Each one of these options adds possibilities is a potential tool for somebody in the world. We, of course, need to make sure that these other people, kid around the world, have access to clean water and education, the old technology as well, so there’s a lot we have to do, but that’s what it’s about. It’s this parade of novelty has a purpose and that purpose has to expand the space of the possible and to expand the choices and the opportunities for anybody, both born today and born in the future.

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