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Kevin Kelly - The Inevitable


Kevin Kelly is the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, and a former editor/publisher of the Whole Earth Review. He has also been a writer, photographer, conservationist, and student of Asian and digital culture. In this fascinating London Real episode, Kevin talks about his memories of co-founding Wired, how Jeff Bezos manages his emails and why we need to be teaching AI ethics.

Kevin Kelly’s fascination with technology emerged early in his life, eventually leading him to study theology at the University of Rhode Island. However, his passion for technology prevailed, and he dropped out to pursue a career in writing about the intersection of culture and technology. In 1993, Kelly co-founded Wired magazine, a publication that quickly became a flagship for tech enthusiasts, providing insights into the rapidly evolving world of digital innovation.

Wired magazine played a pivotal role in shaping the narrative around the internet, digital culture, and the potential of emerging technologies. Kelly’s work as the executive editor of Wired not only reflected his deep understanding of technology but also established him as a leading voice in forecasting the future implications of these advancements.

Kevin Kelly’s influence extends beyond the pages of Wired to his thought-provoking books. One of his most influential works is “Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World,” published in 1994. In this book, Kelly explored the interconnected nature of complex systems, both biological and technological, laying the groundwork for understanding the evolving dynamics of the digital era.

In 2010, Kelly released “What Technology Wants,” a book that delves into the symbiotic relationship between humanity and technology. He posits that technology has its own inherent trajectory and desires, shaping and influencing human civilization in profound ways. The book challenges readers to consider technology as a force that collaborates with human development rather than a mere tool.

“The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future,” published in 2016, is another seminal work by Kelly. In this book, he identifies and explores twelve key technological forces that he believes will shape the future. From artificial intelligence to the rise of the “holopoiesis”, Kelly provides insights into the inexorable technological trends that will define our lives.

Kevin Kelly’s “Inevitable Forces” include trends such as becoming, cognifying, flowing, screening, accessing, sharing, filtering, remixing, interacting, tracking, questioning, and beginning. Each force represents a fundamental aspect of technological evolution that Kelly believes will shape the future landscape. His ability to distil complex ideas into accessible concepts has made his work influential not only within tech circles but also in broader discussions about the societal impact of technology.

Kevin Kelly’s influence extends to the global stage through his engaging and thought-provoking TED Talks. In these presentations, he shares his insights on the future of technology, artificial intelligence, and the evolving relationship between humans and machines. His ability to communicate complex ideas with clarity and enthusiasm has made him a sought-after speaker at conferences and events worldwide.

Kevin Kelly is actively involved in initiatives that foster long-term thinking and responsible use of technology. He is a founding board member of the Long Now Foundation, an organisation dedicated to promoting a deeper understanding of long-term issues and encouraging responsible decision-making for the benefit of future generations.

Kevin Kelly’s journey from co-founding Wired magazine to becoming a renowned futurist has been marked by a profound understanding of technology’s impact on society. His books, articles, and public speaking engagements have made him a leading voice in shaping the narrative around the future of technology. As we continue to navigate the ever-evolving digital landscape, Kevin Kelly’s insights remain invaluable, challenging us to consider the inevitable forces that will shape our collective future.


00:00 | Trailer
01:48 Brian’s thoughts on the episode
04:32 Brian’s Introduction
05:00 Kevin’s image of London and how he sees the city as an incredible VR experience
09:21 Why people are increasingly migrating into cities
12:31 The evolution of Wired magazine
18:56 Kevin’s perspective on California and Silicon Valley and why it happened there
22:58 Changes in student job opportunities over the decades and the work that attracts millennials
24:56 Making a living versus making a fortune
27:54 The burden of a billionaire
30:06 Kevin thinks greatness is over-rated
32:11 How Jeff Bazos manages his emails
33:45 Kevin’s ‘1000 True Fans’ article and how it applies to London Real
41:35 Memories of Wired, a magazine that felt it had got mailed back from the future
48:50 The genesis of Kevin’s new book The Inevitable
53:15 AI is as fundamental as the invention of printing
56:46 VR will offer experiences rather than knowledge
1:05:18 Teaching AIs ethics
1:06:41 Optimists decide and form our future
1:10:04 In the future every aspect of our lives will be tracked
1:14:32 What Kevin saw in 1970s Asia to make him realise that progress is good
1:22:16 Recollections of Terence McKenna
1:23:54 Trying psychedelics at 50
1:26:16 A concept and a gift Kevin wants to pass on to his children
1:29:31 What he means by “the common wealth”1:31:24 A look into a future influenced by AIs and genetic engineering
1:35:14 Human evolution is now going faster, posing many questions for us to consider
1:40:00 Success secrets
1:47:24 Kevin’s interpretation of God whom he believes exists
1:50:34 Not everyone agrees with Kevin on this suspicion
1:52:04 The challenge of engaging people in abstract ideas using modern communication
1:58:09 The successful person who has changed America’s culture without making enemies
2:03:00 Phone call to the 20 year old Kevin
2:06:23 Best advice Kevin has ever received
2:08:25 Advice to the 20 year old who will live in the future world he predicts
2:13:11 Brian’s summing up.


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