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Kevin Kelly: What Technology Wants (Paperback, 2011, Penguin Books, Penguin Group) 3 stars

A fascinating, innovative, and optimistic look at how humanity and technology join to produce increasing …

Review of 'What Technology Wants' on 'Goodreads'

1 star

In 1954, Heidegger published "The Question Concerning Technology," where he attempted to identify technology's essence. Kelly claims to be undertaking the same task here. While Heidegger accomplished his effort in 19 pages, Kelly drags the reader through 359 pages of prolix techno-optimism masquerading as serious inquiry, including (on page 68) a demonstrable misreading of Heidegger's argument.

While he proposes a compelling notion (that technology is a form of evolutionary life following a trajectory independent of its human creators), it rests on the weakest of scaffolding - a severe reliance on correlation as causation; the invention of tendentious concepts such as exotropy; an abundance of non-falsifiable theses; and the consistent construction of straw men to reinforce his argument. While occasionally giving a nod to the negative impacts of technology, such acknowledgements are always rebutted by the simplistically naive claim that newer technology will save us.

Perhaps most troubling is Kelly's own lack of awareness or reflection on the worldview his argument is rooted in. The book is largely an ode to "Progress" through technology without any actual definition of the term nor explanation as to why it is both desirable and inevitable. With the unquestioned and unsupported adoption of the epistemology of modernity, the book's conclusions are foregone from the start and ultimately not that interesting.