Up at the Sunday New York Times Book Review—it appears online a day early—is “Better all the time“, my review of Kevin Kelly’s new book, What Technology Wants.
It’s not a bad book. In fact, parts of it are really interesting: the stuff on the history of technology, for instance, including Kelly’s stint with the technology-dubious Amish. But for me What Technology Wants was seriously marred by Kelly’s relentless progressivism, including his idea that evolution “strives” for certain outcomes (complexity, beauty, specialization, ubiquity, etc.), and that technology strives for exactly the same outcomes. His view of evolution is unidirectional and teleological, and if that’s not the case, which it isn’t, then his idea that technology and evolution both follow universal “laws” (I think Kelly, a devout Christian, sees these laws as God given) breaks down.
An anecdote: shortly before the book was published, Kelly spoke about it at the New York Public Library. Radio journalist Robert Krulwich was there to moderate, and mentioned to Kelly that, contrary to his thesis, most “orthodox biologists” feel that evolution has no inherent direction. Kelly blurted out, “Well, they’re wrong!”
The illustration, by Joon Mo Kang, is nice: