Science & Technology

Kevin Kelly: Excellent Advice for Living From the World's Leading Optimist

Wired's "senior maverick" on his new book of accumulated wisdom, backlash against tech, and why the future still looks bright.


My guest today is Kevin Kelly, one of the original gang of people at Wired magazine back when it was not just reporting on but helping to create digital culture and cyberspace (he remains listed on the masthead as a "senior maverick"). He's a longtime techno-optimist who worked with people like Stewart Brand at the Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, and CoEvolution Quarterly and has published a shelf's worth of books such as Out of Control, which helped popularize the idea of emergent orders and self-regulating systems as preferable to traditional, top-down systems of control. 

Since 2000, he has published Cool Tools, "which recommends the best/cheapest tools available" and he is one of the people behind a weekly Substack newsletter that suggests interesting gadgets, books, and offerings. He is one of the founders of The Long Now Foundation, which pushes people to think in 10,000-year-long increments, and he maintains a comprehensive database of the writing, art, presentations, blogs, and other material he's generated over the past several decades.

His new book is Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I Wish I'd Known Earlier, a collection of 450 aphorisms and insights gleaned from a life spent traveling the globe and at the intersection of technology and culture. We talk about his body of work, how his Christianity informs his scientific beliefs (and vice versa), and not only why he believes optimism wins in the long run but also why he believes it's warranted by the facts on the ground.

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