This afternoon I had one of those Twitter conversations with Jerrid Kruse that got me thinking about a book I read recently. In What Technology Wants Kevin Kelly paints a picture of technology (or the Technium to be more precise) as a system with its own agenda. You can read a blog post explaining more here, but I've copied the parts I'd like us to consider from an educational perspective:
"So, looking at the evolution of life and the long-term histories of past technologies, what are the long-term trajectories of the technium? What does technology want?
To increase diversity
To maximize freedom/choices
To expand the space of the possible
To increase specialization/uniqueness
To increase power density
To increase density of meaning
To engage all matter and energy
To reach ubiquity and free-ness
To become beautiful
To increase complexity
To increase social co-dependency
To increase self-referential nature
To align with nature
To accelerate evolvability
To play the infinite game
"In general the long-term bias of technology is to increase the diversity of artifacts, methods, techniques. More ways, more choices. Over time technological advances invent more energy efficient methods, and gravitate to technologies which compress the most information and knowledge into a given space or weight. Also over time, more of more of matter on the planet will be touched by technological processes. Also, technologies tend toward ubiquity and cheapness. They also tend towards new levels of complexity (though many will get simpler, too). Over time technologies require more surrounding technologies in order to be discovered and to operate; some technologies become eusocial – a distributed existence – in which they are inert when solitary. In the long run, technology increases the speed at which it evolves and encourages its own means of invention to change. It aims to keep the game of change going.
"What this means is that when the future trajectory of a particular field of technology is in doubt, "all things being equal" you can guess several things about where it is headed:
- The varieties of whatever will increase. Those varieties that give humans more free choices will prevail.
- Technologies will start out general in their first version, and specialize over time. Going niche will always be going with the flow. There is almost no end to how specialized (and tiny) some niches can get.
- You can safely anticipate higher energy efficiency, more compact meaning and everything getting smarter.
- All are headed to ubiquity and free. What flips when everyone has one? What happens when it is free?
- Any highly evolved form becomes beautiful, which can be its own attraction.
- Over time the fastest moving technology will become more social, more co-dependent, more ecological, more deeply entwined with other technologies. Many technologies require scaffolding tech to be born first.
- The trend is toward enabling technologies which become tools for inventing new technologies easiest, faster, cheaper.
- High tech needs clean water, clean air, reliable energy just as much as humans want the same."
I think we all recognize that technology is ever-changing, but when we think of technology as having the above-described agenda, what does that mean for our educational systems as they become increasingly tech-integrated?