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Showing 1-10 of 58 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 100 reviews
on December 9, 2015
This is one of the most impactful books ever written if readers will deeply contemplate the concepts put forth. I listened to it half a dozen times on Audible before buying this hard copy. It is the roadmap of the journey of our species, and we are walking straight off a very steep cliff. Some readers will miss the importance because they will not add the contemplation. Novels you need not think about - just get lost in them. Books like this open your mind if its doors are not stuck shut.
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on November 8, 2010
The main idea is far from new. Similarities among different fields have been always used as a way to get new insights. However, this does not always work. There are excellent models like the ones by Stafford Beer and his comparison between biology and organizations and others that are fully trivial. This book has both: Some comparisons or some models are really brilliant and with a good support of data while others are obvious or less interesting.

Technology or "technium" is not seen as similar to natural evolution but as the next phase of a wider evolutionary process. Some parts could remind of "I Robot" by Asimov but the general idea is:

Phase 1: Evolutionary process has its specific features and can be seen everywhere.
Phase 2: "Technium" is starting the same process through man-made artifacts and ideas.
Phase 3: "Technium" is not starting a new process. Instead, it is the continuation of the same process.
Phase 4: What can be said about the future?

Perhaps the main advice for a potential reader should be an unfair one: Keep trying. It is unfair since a bad book does not deserve to be finished and this one could be seen in some parts as a bad book that already made its whole point. Not true. For instance, the chapter devoted to the Amish could be boring for many people (including me) but, after that one, it is possible to find others much more interesting.

Paradoxes like the one shown with electric engines, present everywhere just before dissappearing (because we are not even conscious of how many common devices are powered by electric engines) are very interesting. It is worth to read it.
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on March 2, 2016
I put this in the category of books where someone had a great presentation or TED talk and their friends said "you should write a book about it". I couldn't get past the repeated attribution of the notion of some technological thing 'wanting' something. They do what they are programmed to do, no more, no less. Perhaps when we get to strong AI in X number of years, but not today.
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on March 8, 2017
Being a phenomenologist researcher, I was looking forward to this book. I was not disappointed, but it's time for new approaches to looking at technology.
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on November 21, 2010
Although I've bought and read hundreds of books from Amazon, this is the first one I've been inspired to write a review about. It's the first book I recommend if somebody asks me for "something new and interesting to read."

I have long been interested in the future of humanity, and how technology has shaped our culture and identity. I've read just about everything I can get my hands on from Heidegger to Kurzweil. Kevin Kelly's newest effort sets itself apart from the crowd with its unique mix of tremendous scope and very human narrative. The book has extraordinary ambition but is undertaken with incredible humility.

It's a true pleasure to read and I believe Kelly has added something important to the conversation concerning technology.

His central premise is that technology is an extension of biological evolution. He is one of the few to talk concretely (and offers examples) of the ways in which we can resist, shape, and work with technology. He is also clear about the ways in which it's progress will be inevitable. Kelly is pioneering speaking of technology as a natural extension of biological technology, and I think in the future this will be the dominant way to talk about tech, not technology vs. biology but biology as technology. As we continue to reveal the incomprehensibility of the two-- and as we consciously merge the two-- we'll need leaders like Kelly to show us the blind corners in the road in our inevitable march towards increased diversity and new forms of technology.

This book is nothing short of thrilling to read, and I'm sorry to have finished it.
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on January 24, 2013
Maybe it's because I spent my life in science and technology and have come to many of the same conclusions, but I found this book to be ponderous and full of endless, repetitive justifications for his basic thesis that technologies have been advancing at ever-increasing rates throughout history. (Sorry for the ponderously long sentence, but it matches my view of the book).

Not that the author is wrong - I fully agree with most of it. I do have a serious problem with his personification of technology - starting with the title itself. There is no doubt that most technologies have developed in tandem, that they are interdependent, and that there is an inevitability to it all - for better or for worse. To anthropomorphize this "technium" is downright silly, in my opinion.
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on December 11, 2016
Fantastic read. While some of the statements are profound and potentially controversial, they really make sense. I will never look at the world the same again.
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on February 25, 2017
Hard to get through at times, but that's probably more me than the book, KK really speaks to us optimists that believe we are heading in the right direction, Just like most complicated and important things, there is going to be some bad to deal with in order to get the good.
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on November 7, 2015
I think I found this book from a mention on Tyler Cowen’s website. I thought it might be interesting so I bought it. It was not interesting. Do not waste your time or money on it. I was not enticed by the first chapter, but found the second and third interesting, the fourth not much help, five through nine reasonably interesting. Chapters 10-12 are too long and offer little. On the Unabomber, the whole point culd have been expressed in less than half the number of words.
The acknowledgement section mentions Paul Tough as the editor who rescued the book from verbosity. Well, Paul, go hide some place because you failed. Go fishing in Alaska or snorkeling in Belize. The book is very verbose! Well, then again it could be a GIGO problem: maybe with what Paul got was it just was not possible to prevent verbosity.
I struggled through the first 75 pages looking for something interesting. Since I already knew a lot about evolution and evolutionary psychology I was not finding much of anything interesting. I sat on my couch reading and watching CSI New York. Gary Sinise was winning over the book: I started to speed read.
In the publicity blurbs at the beginning Matt Ridley is quoted as saying (the author’s) “conclusion is that technology’s evolution is incremental, inevitable and inexorable.” Does that take the prize for obviousness?
Chapter 13 is the only one worth reading, but even it begins with a transparent and obvious comment: “So what does technology want? Technology wants what we want – “ No kidding Batman! The chapter talks about features of technology: complexity, diversity, specialization, ubiquity, freedom, mutualism, beauty, sentience, structure, and evolvability. In that order. While the discussion is occasionally engaging there is at least one big problem: he does not see the relations between some of these conditions. For example he discusses complexity separately from structure and beauty. In fact those three are almost inseparable: structure is the source followed by complexity and if done correctly results in beauty. In terms of the meaning of complexity he asks which is more complex a cucumber or a Boeing 747. Give me a break. I am growing cucumbers in my garden. I have not found the seeds for a 747.
I think the major problem with the book is that it asks the wrong question. Technology does not want anything: we want things that technology can sometimes provide for us ( a careful reading of the first two chapters makes that quite clear).
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on November 10, 2011
I just finished reading What Technology Wants, and I'm floored: the perfect read for any geek whose inner technophile is in constant battle with his inner Luddite.

Kelly perfectly crystalizes and synthesizes bits and fragments of thoughts that have been swirling around in my head for years and expressed them with clarity and completeness. He strings together both data and musings in a comprehensive story of the universe from a perspective that seems both personal and universal.

I thank Kelly for these thoughts. As a young person fresh out of college, I his thoughts to be valuable contributions to the technium, and to me personally. They have influenced the way I perceive the world and -- I think -- arm me to attack the future better.
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