Kevin Kelly

Founding Executive Editor of Wired magazine and author of The Silver Cord

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON August 25, 2015
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Discussion

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Kevin Kelly
@kevin2kelly
Greetings! I am a life-long learning who figured out a way to get paid to learn. I was a photographer in Asia instead of a college student. When I returned I started a mail order company with $200. I sold budget travel guides. Then I started writing about the emerging internet as if it were a foreign country. These days I write about the future as if it were a foreign country. My upcoming book, due from Penguin in the spring of 2016, is called The Inevitable. It's about understanding and embracing our technological future. My last book was Cool Tools, a catalog of possibilities. I love to talk about great tools for empowering individuals to make things happen.
Ben Casnocha
@bencasnocha
Kevin, in an interview once you said something like: "You really don't want to a billionaire. I know a lot of them. You don't want that life." What are the risks/costs/downsides of being super wealthy as you see it? And what's the ideal amount of money to have?
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Kevin Kelly
@kevin2kelly
@bencasnocha Success makes it hard for a person to move away from a local peak onto whatever newer and higher has come along. If you have a billion dollars, those dollars demand attention and energy that takes away attention from something small, and marginal -- but the next big thing. You might think a billion dollars would make one more risk friendly, but it usually does the opposite. And if you are a good person, the weight and duty of being responsible with the billions you have becomes a burden. And then it almost becomes criminal to pass that burden onto your kids. So what do you do with it, but pay more attention to the billions. It is very hard not to have it run your life.
Kyle Lee
@chillfoodguy · Seeking, in the world.
@kevin2kelly Sounds like risk aversion. I wonder if there are any studies looking at this on the mega million dollar scale.
Corley
@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
@kevin2kelly Based on this logic, do you believe Bill and Melinda Gates are doing the right thing or are simply dealing with their responsibility as billionaires?
Erik Torenberg
@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Thanks for joining us today Kevin! Q: You mentioned in a recent podcast with Tim Ferriss that you see a need for a new mythology to better reconcile the rapid advancements in technology with the actualities of human experience. What does that look like? Where does one start?
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Kevin Kelly
@kevin2kelly
@eriktorenberg Thank you Erik for hosting me here. I aim to be useful. On new mythologies: Individuals don't create them; they are collectively and unconsciously built. But we can salute them as individuals. We can highlight myths we like and find helpful, and in that way feed the ones that work. One of the myths I am playing with right now is the myth of a global superorganism -- that we are all part of something very large composed of all of us. If this myth were true it would have major ramifications -- although what precisely is not clear.
Erik Torenberg
@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@kevin2kelly Can you speak a bit more about your distrust of nationalism and how you hope that is viewed in the future as negatively as racism (as you said in that same episode)
Jay Mutzafi
@jaymutzafi
Hi @kevin2kelly, thanks for doing this AMA! I love what you do and your perspectives on things, but you said something on your last Tim Ferriss podcast appearance that really threw me off and I would love if you can clarify or expand on it. (Here is the link starting at 15:42 for those who want to listen - https://overcast.fm/+BmGUBN8g0/1...). You said that one of the issues that might come up in the next 50 years is under population (due to to negative population growth) and that this will be a problem as there won’t be enough people to drive the global economy or accommodate it. Your advice for folks is that if they have the resources they should have as many kids as they want to, basically encouraging people to have more kids, if I understood you correctly. Don’t you think that just like this negative population growth is something people didn’t predict and seemed to be the answer to the concern of overpopulation, the same thing might occur if it goes to far in the other direction? Things seem to balance themselves. And is it not also making an assumption as to what type of economy we will have in 50 years and what it’s needs will be? There is plenty of concern of not having enough jobs, or automation, software, and AI taking over jobs (as they should, if you ask me), in which case lower population might not only be ok but a perfect balance for how things might look in the future? Not to mention if radical life extension (a la Aubrey de Gray) is finally achieved, this too will balance out lower population growth? Having more kids and increasing the population just so it fills the economy’s needs just doesn’t sound quite right to me. Would love if you could talk more about this. Thanks again for everything you do! Jay
Erik Torenberg
@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@jaymutzafi fantastic question
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Kevin Kelly
@kevin2kelly
@jaymutzafi I don't think anyone should have kids to fill outside economic needs. You should have as many, or as few kids, as you want for general human reasons of joy, privilege, and some duty to keeping the game going. But you should have kids understanding that there is NO long-term overpopulation problem. The main population problem in 50 years will be underpopulation. This is not a surprise to demographers; only to the public.
Jay Mutzafi
@jaymutzafi
@kevin2kelly Ah, that makes a lot more sense to me. I completely agree. Thanks for clarifying!
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Kevin Kelly
@kevin2kelly
@jaymutzafi I will add to further clarify what I said in the earlier podcast: the audience here is privileged, but the very fact you have the time to be here. Since you are privilege, you have the resources to be good parents, so I urge you to be parents.
Erik Torenberg
@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@jaymutzafi @kevin2kelly is this conclusive? I felt as though this was the elephant in the room no one wanted to discuss, and it would come to something catastrophic at some point (e.g. some 21st century version of eugenics (gasp))
Jay Mutzafi
@jaymutzafi
@eriktorenberg Can you elaborate on what you mean?
Jay Mutzafi
@jaymutzafi
@kevin2kelly I’m not sure I agree here, again unless I misunderstand what you mean. I do agree that people who have the resources should have as many kids as they wish (although I think people are not great at assessing this), however, being privileged (and having the resources) is perhaps necessary but not sufficient for being good parents (i’m not even sure about that). Having the resources I do consider to be a base minimum for having kids, but that seems to me to be far from what make people good parents. But what makes good parents is a complex debate. I would not urge people to be parents just because they have the resources. I think being emotionally and physiologically balanced and in a good place (relatively), is far more important and plays a much bigger role in raising kids well.
Zander
@zanderadell · Founder, Doorman
Hi Kevin, how has your farsighted perspective affected the way you raise your kids?
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Kevin Kelly
@kevin2kelly
@zanderadell I try to remember they are the ones who will choose my nursing home, and so I give them as much slack as I can.
Hash_tag_jeff
@jeffumbro · Book Marketing and PR - get in touch
Hi Kevin - what do you think of the Wired Magazine of today? Has it held up the vision you had when it began?
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Kevin Kelly
@kevin2kelly
@jeffumbro It's dangerous for former editors to speak about their past loves, but Wired in the last 2 years no longer holds my interest as a reader.
Chris Kay
@chrisjkay · Co-Founder, Multiplicity
@kevin2kelly If you could start a new technology publication today what would you want it to look like or feel like (tone, content, focus?)
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Kevin Kelly
@kevin2kelly
@chrisjkay I ask myself that all the time. I have answers to all those questions but not the major one of how it would make money. To be honest, I would not want to be editing Wired today because it is almost an impossible job, to be intelligent, radical, edgy, and making enough money to keep going.
tim chang
@timechange · Managing Director, Mayfield Fund
Kevin - you and I chatted at recent Arc Summit dinner about how the death of privacy may be inevitable in the networked and digital age. Is the Ashley Madison hack just the start of things to come in the era of "privacy is an illusion"? Also wondering if this means that prepaid anonymous debit and Visa cards will become the norm for online transactions!? :)
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Kevin Kelly
@kevin2kelly
@timechange Yes, the Ashley Madison is a very good example of the rule that you should assume -- in all aspects of your life -- that you live in a transparent world. Sooner or later what you say in email will be shared, where you visit will be open, and what you say to others will be passed on.
Erik Torenberg
@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What's a lie you tell yourself the most often?
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Kevin Kelly
@kevin2kelly
@eriktorenberg That I am a nice person.
Star Simpson ⭐️
@starsandrobots · Orion
@kevin2kelly What are the top 3 technologies do you find most exciting today?
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Kevin Kelly
@kevin2kelly
@starsandrobots AI, VR, and QUANTIFIED SELF sensors.
Melissa Joy Kong
@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
What question do you think not enough of us ask of ourselves? What question do you think not enough of us ask about the world?
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Kevin Kelly
@kevin2kelly
@melissajoykong What am I trying to maximize? At my funeral what will people remember about me?