Technological Optimism and The Future: Kevin Kelly With Excellent Advice For Living


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The root of my optimism comes in kind of a basic observation that if we can create 1% more than we destroy every year, that 1% compounded over time is civilization. So the delta between a gain and very tiny gain, is hard to see in the present. – Kevin Kelly 

In his book, “The Inevitable,” futurist Kevin Kelly wrote this (emphasis mine)…

“This is a race with the machines. You’ll be paid in the future based on how well you work with robots. Ninety percent of your coworkers will be unseen machines.” 

Kevin wrote that in 2016.

When I was a kid, I thought the future would have physical manifestations of super technology everywhere – like living in the clouds, flying cars, personal jetpacks, and robot servants.

Yeah, I really liked The Jetsons.

There are very slight changes we can see, albeit way less exciting; electric cars, for example, are still road bound and, despite their fuel source, look like regular cars. “Videophones,” ala smartphones and Zoom calls, are closer to some of the predictions, but for the most part, the present looks the same as it did 50 years ago.

Behind the scenes, things are indeed very different; unseen machines are everywhere; computer chips, software, and algorithms power more and more of our everyday devices. I can even voice command many of my household appliances; other devices allow two-way chats for information retrieval, and now, with AI, we can have digital tasks actually done for us.

On this podcast, I had the opportunity to sit down with Kevin to discuss all of this and what our future from here might look like.

Kevin Kelly (@kevin2kelly) is a well-known technologist and renowned writer, best known as the co-founder of Wired magazine. He has made significant contributions to the fields of technology, science, and culture. He has written several books, including “Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World,” “New Rules for the New Economy,” “What Technology Wants,” and “The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future.”

Kevin is currently co-chair of The Long Now Foundation, which is building a clock in a mountain that will tick for 10,000 years. He also has a daily blog; a weekly podcast about cool tools; and a weekly newsletter.

On this show, he explores with me recent developments in technology as well as some great life advice from his upcoming book aptly named, “Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I’d Known Earlier.

Our conversation covers these topics and more.

  • Why Kevin’s optimistic
  • The net 1% compounding principle
  • Problems as capacity improvers
  • His opinion on the current state of AI
  • Multiple intelligences
  • The “universal personal intern”
  • Opinions on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology
  • His new book and some great advice for living
  • Practical tips on embracing change, prototyping life, and active listening


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