Amid the din of warnings about modern technology's impact on the soul, Kevin Kelly sounds like the happy evangelist from Geekdom. "[W]e can see more of God in a cell phone than in a tree frog," the Wired magazine cofounder claims in his most recent book, What Technology Wants. A provocative title, to be sure, introducing a more provocative thesis: All human artifacts, from words to wheels to Wikipedia, together act like a living, breathing organism that reflects something of the Divine. "Technology has its roots in God's work through the universe," Kelly told CT associate editor Katelyn Beaty as she sat down with the San Francisco native at this year's Q conference, where Kelly was speaking. He believes that as participants in the technium—Kelly's word for this tech-ecosystem—"when we try to increase the options in the world, we are part of something godly."
Kelly came to Christ in 1979, when he got locked out of a Jerusalem hostel and ended up sleeping on a stone slab in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. He talked with CT about the Amish, his vision of heaven, and why he doesn't own a smart phone.
You use the term the technium to discuss all artifacts that humans have made since the beginning. Why not just use the word "culture"?
I use technium to emphasize that human creation is more than the sum of all its parts. An ecosystem behaves differently from its individual plant and animal components. We have thoughts in our minds that are more than the sum of all neuron activity. Society itself has certain properties that are more than the sum of the individuals; there is an agency that's bigger than us. In the same way, the technium will have a behavior that you're not going to find in your iPhone or your light bulb ...