A truly avant garde talk with Kevin Kelly and Steven Johnson, hosted by the NY public Library and by, in my opinion, slightly annoying and hindering Robert Krulwich. The talk attempts to parallel Johnson’s book “Where Good Ideas Come From” and Kelly’s “What Technology Wants”, resulting in this very widespread discussion of how technology and biology evolve and what they are.
What amazes me the most is that after a while I hear this discussion about technology and the evolution of our being that I never have hear before - everything seems to come together. Kelly seems to treat technology as our “brainchild” that evolves just like nature does. It is this network of organisms, that are all leaning towards a natural and inevitable path. This thought further intersects with Johnson’s thoughts on the architecture of ideas; that ideas happen through communication, and that they incubate for a surprisingly time.
This all leads up to that we have always lived in a climate that culturally provides the ideas for us; because of the adjacent possible, the serendipitous. The light bulb was invented by multiple people at the same time, because all the existing autonomous parts where already invented, to name an example. In other words, culture and the human being creates an artificial nature in which a certain path of evolution is bound to happen, and technology becomes the medium for this.
PSFK captured some interesting thoughts that well summarize some key take-aways:
- There are underlying patters that appear in the story of all innovations – things like environments that allow for serendipitous discovery, ideas that are made possible because of the manifestation of others’ ideas, and stories of insights that develop over strikingly long periods of time.
- Innovators have friends with remarkably diverse backgrounds and expertise. This allows for outside perspectives – people who can tell you that maybe something you’re looking at is actually a signal, not noise.
- Kevin Kelly is being intentionally provocative by saying there are things that technology “wants,” but he uses the term in the way we might say a plant “wants” sunlight – these things display certain tendencies that they naturally gravitate towards.
- There is a significant pattern of technologies of the same sort appearing at the same time across the world, even within groups that are culturally isolated from each other.
- Living things go extinct, but tools dont. You can find nearly any tool throughout the history of technology being made new, today.
I recommend visiting both Steven Johnson’s (http://www.stevenberlinjohnson.com/) and Kevin Kelly’s (http://kk.org/) blogs.