What technology wants

What technology wants

Kevin Kelly

New York, US: Viking Books 2010 | 416pp | ?17.61 (HB)

ISBN 9780670022151

Reviewed by Akshat Rathi 

REVIEWS - p54b-180

This is the first book I have read by this celebrated author and it has lived up to the hype. Kelly’s hypothesis in the book is very simple: what technology wants is that we keep building new ways of using technology to benefit us, which in turn will drive us to develop even more new technologies.

Although the title, quite eerily, gives technology a life-like form, it is not what Kelly professes. Instead what he means is that when compared to biological systems, technological advancements are somewhat predictable, even though we are unsure of how those advancements would affect us. Comparing technological development with Darwinan evolution, Kelly says that just like the eye evolved in genetically distinct species, technologies arise independently and often simultaneously. In simple words, we would have had the light bulb with or without Edison and we would have the airplane with or without the Wright brothers.

But in building his thesis, Kelly makes sure that he does not just view the world from a technophile’s perspective and gives it a balance by talking about lessons we can learn from the Amish, a group of people who refuse to adopt any modern technologies.

The narrative Kelly constructs is a powerful one. He draws on examples from all the periods of human history and makes neat comparisons with nature to convince the reader that what technology wants is to keep moving forward.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is curious, loves technology or wonders what the world will be in the future.