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North Star Podcast


Nov 9, 2020

My guest today is Kevin Kelly, who co-founded Wired Magazine in 1993 and served as its Executive Editor for the first seven years. As one of the most important futurists of our generation, he's published a number of books including The Inevitable, What Technology Wants, and New Rules for the New Economy which is my favorite one. Coolest of all, he's also a founding member of the board of the Long Now Foundation, a non-profit devoted to encouraging long-term thinking.

We discussed the Long Now Foundation at the end of this episode in a conversation about what it means to be a good ancestor for future generations. A couple of things stood out from this conversation. First, I like how Kevin focuses on clarity above all else whenever he writes. He sees himself as a great editor, and writing is the process by which he discovers what he's thinking. Second, we build off the ideas of Marshall McLuhan who was the founding saint of Wired Magazine. Through McLuhan, we explored Kevin's Christianity, how screens are shaping consciousness, and how our technologies have a gravitational life of their own. Please enjoy my conversation with Kevin Kelly.

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Show Notes

2:22 - Exotropic energy and how Kevin uses it to explain the negative entropy we see throughout the universe.

6:24 - Why California has become the world hub of extropy.

10:33 - The transition from the written word to text and screens and how it affects our psyche.

15:27 - What made Marshall McLuhan's writing so paradoxical and engaging.

18:34 - How science fiction has usurped religious teachings as the modern leader of theological thought.

24:06 - Why our limitation as seeing the future only "through the rearview mirror" is driven by a disease Kevin calls "thinkism".

31:25 - How the Amish have utilized an evidence-based method in their adoption of new technologies.

44:46 - Why technology that we create will always be weaponized in the end.

49:01 - Why Kevin believes that the evidence shows the increase of accessibility of and power in technology has not correlated with our ability to harm.

53:15 - How moral progress is a natural byproduct of technological progress.

57:26 - Why Kevin sees a fundamental transformation in how Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is thought about and utilized in people's lives.

1:05:25 - Why Kevin's futurology is much closer to simply noticing the present that it is divination.

1:15:20 - How moving away from improving everything's efficiency is against the very things we desire as humans.

1:23:35 - Why writing for Kevin is nothing but a means to an end to discovering his thoughts.

1:29:43 - How thinking with 'the long now' can help us become better ancestors and leave a better world for the future.