What It Really Really Wants

Kevin Kelly notices things. As a teenager, he noticed his voice and his friends’ voices “being drowned out by the loud conversations technology was having with itself.” Later, as the Internet emerged, he noticed “something unexpectedly organic about these ecosystems of people and wires.” At some point he noticed that the chainsaw had given him a new appreciation of wood. Since then, he has channeled his perceptions and examinations thereof into projects ranging from the creation of Wired magazine to, most recently, the writing of his new book What Technology Wants. By now he has come to regard technology as an evolution-accelerating “seventh kingdom of life,” with its own distinct imperatives. So is that terrifying, or fantastic? Certainly it’s good to have Kelly on hand tonight to field a few questions. Ask him to explain such concepts as exotropy, ordained becoming, and the Amishness of the Internet. Ask him whether smartphones ever will become wise phones, and whether we’ll all be too distracted by futzing with them to notice when the aliens finally do begin transmitting Wikipedia revisions from 10,000 light-years away. Surely he will notice.
Tue., Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m., 2010

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