“What technology wants” by Kevin Kelly describes what he calls the technetium, the technology ecosystem that surrounds us. The technetium contains 170 quadrillions (a quadrillion is one thousand million million) chips. The number of neurons in your brain is similar to the number of transistors in the global network. The number of file links is similar to the number of synapses in your brain. The planetary electronic membrane surrounding the worlds is comparable to the complexity of the human brain. With 3 billion artificial eyes (webcams, phones, etc.) plugged in. The system has started to whisper to itself. He suggests we are close to this big brain becoming aware (Skynet!?).
What is more complex, a Boeing 747 or a cucumber?
It is a very intense book. From an evolution perspective, he describes the trajectory of where technology is going. Using complexity. He poses an interesting question. What is more complex, a Boeing 747 or a cucumber? He uses diversity, specialisation, ubiquity (he follows the development of electro motors, how many motors do you think are in your house?), freedom, mutualism, beauty, sentience, structure and evolvability as the directions for the future.
All trends, such as the number of patents, technology adoption rates, Moore’s law are pointing upwards (hockey sticks!). Best to describe the trends as a big number of booster rockets blasting technology upwards. The inevitable conclusion is that the sum of all the parts is going to create something very interesting.
Why is this important to business?
The book is predicting that technology convergence will change the world (the hardware). Now combine that with social media and the internet (the software) and you have a melting pot of opportunities and threats moving at light speed. Companies should prepare. Now! Before it is too late. Not thinking about this and how that will impact on your business is like sticking your head in the sand. At its final conclusion business suicide.