Renaissance Life (RL)

Welcome to another episode of the Renaissance Life — a podcast dedicated to the pursuit of creativity, mastery, and a meaningful life. 

Today’s episode is a conversation with the wonderful Kevin Kelly.

Kevin Kelly is the co-founder and Senior Maverick at Wired. He is also the co-chair of The Long Now Foundation, an organization that champions long-term thinking. Kevin Kelly has also written a number of best-selling books, including The Inevitable, an excellent book that guides you through the 12 technological imperatives that will shape the next 30 years and transform our lives. I highly recommend his newest book, Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I Wish I'd Known Earlier, which is a fantastic read chock-full of wisdom and insight.

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What is Renaissance Life (RL)?

Renaissance Life is a podcast about CREATIVITY, MASTERY, and the pursuit of an extraordinary life.
If you're looking to become a master of design, entrepreneurship, writing, music, coding, swimming, cooking, learning, and or all the above this is the show for you!
If you want to be the best version of yourself you can be,
but you don't have a community to push you forward -
or are feeling stuck and not sure what to do -
or need practical steps towards learning and achieving your dreams -
or find yourself unsure of your next step in life - The Renaissance Life is for you.
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Kevin Kelly: Excellent Advice for Living — Renaissance Life


[00:00:00] Josh: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today.

[00:00:06] Kevin Kelly: My pleasure.

[00:00:09] Josh: So I have a million questions for you,

[00:00:11] Kevin Kelly: thing.

[00:00:11] Josh: I'd love to start with play in particular. One trait that I really admire from you is you have this sense of wonder and playfulness that comes across in your work, in your interviews. So I'm curious what are your thoughts on like taking life seriously, but not too seriously and do you have advice on adding more play and childlike wonder to life?

[00:00:36] Kevin Kelly: Yeah, that's, it's a really great way of framing it. I had a friend, Michael Schroer, wrote a book called Serious Play which was perfect. I like that idea of taking play seriously and doing it intentionally in a kind of the construct of getting things done. And so that's the attitude I have taken, which is that [00:01:00] it's also the, the famous flow state is reverse, is where you're playing so intensely that it's like work.

[00:01:08] So yeah, you're right. I haven't really thought about it, but I guess the really that distinction is not very large in my mind. I try to construct my days and my projects to do things that. . Make my work into play and my play into work. And I think when creative people are doing their best, if you're a songwriter writing a song, is that work or is that play?

[00:01:38] I don't know. But obviously there are things that, there are aspects of work that don't really look like play. If you are a furniture maker, you've gotta do some sanding, and there's nothing playful about sanding. If you are, a, a chef being creative, there's prep work, which isn't very playful.

[00:01:59] But there [00:02:00] certainly should be some. Aspects of play in the most creative things that we do, and we want to do more of those creative things. So yeah. I think the idea of serious play, which is how do you, or what are the tricks or the tips or the methods or the mindset for introducing that into our things.

[00:02:21] There's one element I've noticed in that kind of gamification of trying to introduce some element of play into things that are rote, where you can turn into a game, and that to some degree is, there is, it is playful where you make a game out of it. I think that's a legitimate avenue. There are things where you. Deliberately try and do things differently again to prevent yourself from getting to a rutt and also trying to explore alternative ways. I have a friend, maybe he's more of the friend, like a Mentor Stewart Brand, the inventor of the Whole Earth Catalog. [00:03:00] And his little game, I guess you could call it playful, is that whenever he's talking about something he knows very well and has talked about a million times, he tries not to repeat himself. So like he even went to the Whole Earth Catalog and I've witnessed hundreds or thousands of people coming up to him talking about the Whole Earth Catalog. And when he's talking about it each time, he's talking about a different way I've never heard before. I'm talking about a book right now that I'm doing, and it's all I can do to not say the phrases that seem to work really well. He would never use that phrase again. It would be a brilliant phrase. And then that would be the last time you would ever hear it. 'cause he was gonna try and say it completely different the next time. And so that is a playful attitude, playful thing, just in everyday life where you don't repeat yourself, you're going to playfully try out something.

[00:03:57] It may not work as well. And that's the cost. The cost is that [00:04:00] this time when you say it didn't have quite the impact 'cause you it just was not as good. And instead of reverting back to the old reliable saw, he's gonna keep trying a different thing. And that to me is a playful way to approach things.

[00:04:15] Josh: I love that. The couple examples that you brought up, woodworking and being a chef, like doing prep work, there's almost. A meditative quality about that kind of work as well.

[00:04:26] Kevin Kelly: Sure it's meditative, but I'm not sure I've put playful. Maybe in the greater context, maybe there, there's a list of things besides play that are useful to bring to work. There's play and then there's meditative stuff but there is one bit of advice in the book.

[00:04:43] I think it's in there, I can't remember now, which I, stuff I put in or took out that you want the, the productivity folks. This idea of productivity being really productive is a little bit misleading sometimes because it isn't [00:05:00] necessarily that we want to always reduce the amount of time that we're spending on things that we have to do. We actually want to find the kinds of things where we want to keep doing them for as long as possible. So reducing, becoming productive, like getting through the tasks really fast is one thing, but actually what we really want are tasks that we never want to stop,

[00:05:27] We want to take as long as possible. So you're you wanna switch to those as much as possible rather than just keep working on trying to get through things as productively as possible? No. You wanna something where you want to spend as much time as possible.

[00:05:44] Josh: Absolutely. And you mentioned your book. Excellent advice for living. I absolutely love it. One thing you've talked about related to that is making the main thing. The main thing.

[00:05:56] Kevin Kelly: Yeah, let's give a little salt in Silicon Valley, but yeah.[00:06:00]

[00:06:01] Josh: Yeah.

[00:06:01] Kevin Kelly: The main thing is to get, to keep the main thing, the main thing. And so that's about focus. It's like saying, look, the problem of today's world, and even in the startup world, is that there's ever expanding possibilities and choices and opportunities. And when you're starting out, the main thing is to keep the main thing, meaning that you really need to focus on that main opportunity because it's just because you'll have so many opportunities come up and if you're an opportunist, it's like, how can you resist?

[00:06:33] You have to.

[00:06:34] Josh: One aspect of that is, coming up with ideas and having a lot of ideas. Do you have like a protocol on selecting ideas or what you say yes or no to?

[00:06:44] Kevin Kelly: I do. And it's something I literally wished I'd known earlier. I think for most people there's a holy trinity of kind of overlapping Venn diagram of things that they love doing, things that they're good at and things that people would pay [00:07:00] for that there's value. And if there's some overlap of those three things in that little sweet spot, that holy trinity where you're really good at it, you love doing it, and you're getting paid to do it, that is the kinds of things you're gonna do.

[00:07:13] But I think there's another level beyond that. Another circle maybe intersecting it. And something that I use a lot now all the time, which is, could anybody else do this? Is, could I imagine someone else doing it? This is a really great idea for a book. I'd be really good at it. I would love doing it.

[00:07:32] I could get a nice advance to it. Can I imagine anyone else doing this? And if the answer is yes, Then that's a strike against me. That's, I'm probably not going to do it because I only wanna do the things now that only I can do. And when I do those, it's easy versus hard, and there's no [00:08:00] competition. So I can I don't have to be in a hurry. And it's usually the best stuff, my best work, because I'm the only at that point. And so that is a criteria that they will ask and really common. Like, Can I imagine someone else doing? Is there someone else who's already doing this? Is this someone else? Is this something that someone else can do?

[00:08:20] And by the way, that's one of the, the reasons why, even though there are say a lot of problems in technology in their world and it is important to address those problems, besides the fact that I'm optimistic, I don't address those problems because so many other people do it better than I do. I don't need to do that.

[00:08:39] That's not what I'm here for. It's not that I don't value it or think it's important, it's just that other people can do that. And so other people have more trouble with the optimistic side. And that's the thing that I gravitate to. And then I'm good at.

[00:08:55] Josh: I wanted to talk to you about optimism actually. You've written about it. There's [00:09:00] some great articles that you've written on optimism, and I really enjoyed your recent conversation with Tim Ferriss and the distinction y'all were jamming with on active optimism versus passive optimism.

[00:09:12] I'm curious if you have any recommendations on how, like, how to cultivate more optimism in

[00:09:17] your

[00:09:17] Kevin Kelly: Mm-hmm. I think the main thing is just is to try to change your time horizon. The longer you can look back into the past, and the more you look so you look at it objectively and scientifically, and at the actual evidence, the more you understand of the tremendous amount of progress that we have in the world, and that most of the things that are filling our world today with goodness were created by somebody who I.

[00:09:45] Believed that this improbable thing could really come true. So basically, our present has been shaped by the optimist of the past. And if you took a, if you take a longer view of the future, [00:10:00] first of all, you can just accomplish so much more in 10 years over a one year. Not just 10 times more, but just substantially more and a longer view allows the perspective, allow the vision to overcome significant setbacks and downturns.

[00:10:18] It's kinda like the stock market, if you are holding for the long term, 20 years even, severe downturns are just, they're just things that are overcome and that allows you to be optimistic about the general direction that we're going in. So I find elevating the time horizon to the long past and the long future, what we call the long.

[00:10:44] Now, expanding that is, is one thing that really helps be optimistic. And I think another thing is to focus, again, not just the problems, but the way in which our ability to solve problems is [00:11:00] expanding. Okay. And that's, again, that's my little riff about, it's the reason why I'm optimist is in part, not because I think our problems are smaller, less significant, less important than people think, but because I believe that our ability to solve the problems is increasing much better than we realize.

[00:11:18] And so that sense of kind of trusting the future and understanding that we're, we're growing really, Significantly in our ability to understand, detect problems measure them and even deal with them. And so that's one way to become more optimistic.

[00:11:38] Josh: Excellent. You mentioned the long now foundation. I'm curious the origins of that.

[00:11:44] Kevin Kelly: So that it came actually from piece that we published in Wired

[00:11:49] from Danny Hillis. Danny Hillis, who was a guy who invented the parallel computing machine called the Connection Machine way back in the eighties. Eighties, yeah. And he's a [00:12:00] polymath, a genius, and he had this idea, he had a complaint that the, this was like in 1990, say, we'll say 95, that for him growing up the future, it'd always been the year 2000. And the 2000 was only five years away and there still, nobody was talking about anything beyond the year 2000. And he felt that the future was shrinking in that sense and he wanted to expand the future. So he had this idea of a clock, which was gonna be like a computer that would tick for once a year and talk every a hundred years.

[00:12:36] And then every a thousand years a cuco would come out. And that this kind of long-term, long range clock would help us think about a long-term future. So Stewart Brand whom I worked with in the whole Earth Catalog, seized on the idea and said, Denny, let's make an institution to build the clock. We're actually [00:13:00] gonna build the clock.

[00:13:01] And I. Stewart wrote a book where he paired the idea of a 10,000 year library next to the clock that there were these would be these kind of monuments to remind us of long-term thinking and long range perspectives. And so he, Danny Stewart, me and a couple others Peter Schwartz at g b n, who wrote a book about scenarios.

[00:13:26] We made a nonprofit institution to promote long-term perspective. And later on we would say long-term responsibility and long-term imagination. And That's the origin. It was and then we made a version of the clock, a prototype that was now in the Science, London Science Museum in England. And there's now a clock, clock one, the first clock first of many that's almost finished inside a mountain in east Texas.

[00:13:58] It's financed by [00:14:00] Jeff Bezos. And this is 500 feet, there's a tunnel, 500 feet down the clock is hanging in that there's chimes that ring every day at noon. That for 10, 10,000 years and make a different melody designed by Brian Eno. So it's a monumental thing. And when you visit it, my overarching impression is that this clock has always been inside the mountain.

[00:14:26] It feels this clock is like ancient. Heart beating in a mountain forever. So there, so it, it does this. It's, I it's mythic. It does this thing of thinking about what should we be doing over that kind of, over the next a hundred years at least. And so that's the purpose of the clock is again, is to remind us about the long term.

[00:14:53] Josh: I love that. That's super cool. You mentioned polymath I'm curious your thoughts on multidisciplinary t hinking and [00:15:00] the desire to have multiple passions.

[00:15:03] Kevin Kelly: Yeah. We're, We're complicated human beings with many different dimensions. One of the, I think one of the. What's the word I want? Misguided aspects of AI is this emphasis on one single dimension, which is iq, the same kind of extremism in entrepreneurism, which is the value only the amount of money that people have.

[00:15:25] Those are just very narrow bits of and I think we're complex and that's one of the benefits I think we have over AI and for a long time, is that we are gonna be complicated. We do have more than one thing we're trying to optimize in our life, which we should. And I think not just money, health friendships, satisfaction, curiosity, play, the, there's lots of things.

[00:15:50] And so not everybody is gonna be so one dimension I think. Some of the most creative people that I know and most successful have multiple [00:16:00] dimensions to them. And they may all be visible, publicly, but they are there. And I think that source of being interested in lots of different things and even trying to go in multiple ways at once is an important part of doing things differently.

[00:16:18] There's a famous story of Steve Jobs wasting his time taking calligraphy at Reed College when there was utterly not any use at all for it. He was just interested in it. It was complete. Looked nothing like success. And so later on though it was essential and instrumental in him becoming interested in, postscript and making fonts with a computer. And his insistence that the early Macintosh have ability to do fonts because of his, is frivolous interest in calligraphy.

[00:16:58] And so [00:17:00] I'm a big believer in in, in pursuing more with a single interest. You of course have to balance that with, focus and getting things done, but that's what life is. It's a balance between different trade offs.

[00:17:14] Josh: You mentioned AI briefly in the previous conversation and. I think I heard somewhere that you doing like a daily AI art piece.

[00:17:24] Kevin Kelly: Yeah.

[00:17:25] Josh: How's that experience been? What have you learned about

[00:17:28] yourself and about

[00:17:28] Kevin Kelly: there's a lot to say about it. First of all, I am perfectly content to co-sign the results because I spent hours and hours working with these AI to produce them. It's not a matter of just clicking a button. It's like photography, a photographer and the early painters, so Oh, the photographer.

[00:17:48] They just, you just have to click the button and you're done. Not really. You're, it's a lot of work. Yeah, you can, but you're not getting anything really great. And working with the areas [00:18:00] is like photography where you are exploring a space and you're going in and you're looking for it and you're moving around and you're having to work with the.

[00:18:12] The AI to get into the right position to get this picture. And so that's the first thing is that there's a lot of, a lot more work involved than it appears. And that's why some people are just really good at that because they spent a thousand, several thousand or 10,000 hours already doing it.

[00:18:30] And then the second thing is that I had a realization recently, which was that so it's very easy to get the ais to do something. It's really hard to get them to obey you, go where you want to go. And had a realization, I've been trying to make it do art that I could see in my mind.

[00:18:48] I just couldn't get them to do it. And I and the realization was, aha, here's what it is. The thing about these AI is the great boom that we're in is that they like the internet. [00:19:00] Which went in the nineties from the command line text only. Very boring. Then there was the big bang of the graphical user interface and the web, and now suddenly everybody got it.

[00:19:15] Because you had a graphical user interface to the internet. This is what's happening right now with ai. We have a conversational user interface to the ai. The AI are not that much different than they were a couple years ago, but now we can interface them with a conversation, which is a very human way of doing things.

[00:19:32] And so, but, but those large language models that are the engine of this conversational user interface is their language. And so what that means is that there are, there are kinds of art that they can't do because there's no words. We could use to get them there. They're leashed, they're tied to [00:20:00] language.

[00:20:00] And so I've been trying to get them to do things that there's no language for that. So there's art, some great art that you can't put into words, meaning that there's no a that's going to be able to get there. So there's a whole bunch of possible pictures that these ais with the large language models and language prompts are never gonna be able to make.

[00:20:24] And so they're now working on other kind of interfaces. Maybe you can draw, maybe you can sing whatever it is. But what that means though is that there's still plenty of room today anyway for artists working. Because if you're trying to do art that's beyond language, beyond description, AI aren't gonna be able to help you there at this point.

[00:20:50] Josh: Interesting I know there's a lot of fear and anxiety around that. But that's, I feel like that right there is really helpful

[00:20:59] You're [00:21:00] not it's a limit at least there's still like an aspect of humanity that needs to imagine.

[00:21:07] Kevin Kelly: And you know, right now I'm playing around with music, ai, music generators, and it'll be the, it'll be the same kind of thing. There. There will be, the interface to the AI will limit what it can do musically. Right now our human limit is primarily gonna be in the instruments, primarily that which is the interface that humans have. So you can theoretically make sounds or music that transcends those things, but without the interface, how do you get there? And so so that, I think what'll [00:22:00] happen is that just like the computerized chess playing and go, the AI has changed the way that humans play the game. I think these ais making images and making music will change even how we humans make art and music. We'll respond to it and they'll help us imagine different ways of doing it that we haven't already.

[00:22:27] Josh: Yeah, I've, that's what I've experienced personally with just using mid journey playing around making some crazy, weird photos, which are super fun. Just playing around with different like mediums.

[00:22:40] And I'm excited about the possibilities, particularly around like being able to create more, for somebody who has a lot of ideas, there could be, I could see a future where you could, spend one week making a video game another week, like outlining a novel, there's building an app.

[00:22:58] There's like an endless amount of [00:23:00] possibilities there.

[00:23:01] Kevin Kelly: Oh yeah. And there, these new tools will empower individuals to like they have with, video to produce things that normally in the past would've taken a whole team a lot of money and. I've long said that's where the real frontier is in these image generators is not on the two D picture.

[00:23:23] It's in making videos and movies and world building, which normally has required, has not been in the purview of a single person writing a novel. You can do it by, by yourself. You can write a song by yourself. You could do a book by yourself, but you could never do a real movie by yourself, but you will be able to with the AI tools, and that would be huge because first of all, it'll produce huge amounts of crap and terrible stuff, which is really good.

[00:23:58] It's the only way you're gonna get the [00:24:00] genius stuff out, but just like YouTube, right? So I. That's, that'd be very exciting to to see what happens there.

[00:24:09] Josh: Yeah. I'm also excited about the education aspect.

[00:24:13] like like what Khan Academy is doing, for example, like the ability to learn more quickly is

[00:24:20] Kevin Kelly: Definitely. A hundred percent.

[00:24:22] Josh: To talk about your book here for a second. like I said earlier, I, it's fantastic and I feel like it'll be a daily driver for me 'cause I could get bits of wisdom at different points in my life,

[00:24:36] Kevin Kelly: yeah.

[00:24:37] Josh: But I'm curious if there's any particular pieces of advice that you wish people would focus more on.

[00:24:45] Kevin Kelly: Who My favorite children. I think well, yeah. It's hard to say because there are, there's, some parenting advice. Not everybody has children. There's some kind of career advice aimed at the [00:25:00] people who are young. There's some practical advice, but I would say I'm just, I'm just opening the book right here just randomly. And I'd like, I like all of it. What can I say? So when someone tells you something is wrong, they're usually right. But when they tell you how to fix it, they're usually wrong. And that's a little bit of that kind of balancing where we have to pay attention to what other people say.

[00:25:29] Sometimes we have to ignore it, and you have to figure out in between. But this is one of the, Rules of thumb that I use is like when people notice something is wrong, they're usually right about that something's not working. But the solution to it is much, much harder to envision, and they're usually wrong about that.

[00:25:50] And that just because generally failures are much more probable and successes are improbable, so the failure is much [00:26:00] easier to see. But the actual solution, the improbable thing, is very hard to see. So if someone tells you something wrong, they're usually right. If they're telling you how to fix it, they're usually wrong.

[00:26:11] Josh: That's good.

[00:26:12] Kevin Kelly: The second one is on the same page. You're only as young as the last time you changed your mind. I first heard that from Timothy Leary and he was always going on about being able to change your mind and that that necessity of staying young because you're changing your mind. And having that ability to be open to changing your mind.

[00:26:34] And then the third one on the same page is when you're hitchhiking look like the person you want to pick you up. So I've done a lot of hitchhiking and that really does work. Alright. So yeah, if you wanna be picked up by some drunk guy in a car, then yeah, you've gotta look at Cobo. But if you wanna be picked up by somebody who's going take you to lunch, put on a tie.[00:27:00]

[00:27:00] Josh: It makes a lot of sense. I've got a few here that I've marked. I'm curious if you wanna riff on them a little bit.

[00:27:07] Kevin Kelly: Sure.

[00:27:09] Josh: This one, this is the best time ever to make something. None of the greatest I. Coolest creations 20 years from now have been invented yet. You are not too late.

[00:27:21] Kevin Kelly: Oh my gosh. Yeah. This is the, there's two reasons why this is the best time. One is from the view of history from the past, there's never been as good a set of tools available to everybody than today. There's never been more information about how to do things, how to make things so you can learn than today.

[00:27:47] There's never been easier, more available money and capital floating around than today. There's just so many ways in which today is better than any day in the past to start to [00:28:00] make something Then, If you turn around and look to the future, it's also the best time. They'll look back in 20 years from now to this day in 2023 and saying, man, I wished I was working back then.

[00:28:19] Because at that time today, there are no ai experts compared to what they'll be in 30 years. There are no prompt engineers compared to what they'll be in 30 years. There's no, there's no experts in me, the metaverse virtual reality compared to what they'll be in 30 years. And so it's yeah, this would've been the time to start those things because there was no competition there, there were no experts compared to where we're going.

[00:28:48] And so this is literally the best time ever, both from the past and the future to make something I. And the good things, the greatest [00:29:00] things haven't been made yet. So you're not late.

[00:29:04] Josh: Do you have any recommends on catching or riding some of these technological waves?

[00:29:13] Kevin Kelly: You say riding surfing them, you mean? Yeah.

[00:29:16] Josh: Meaning like trying things, being open to,

[00:29:20] Kevin Kelly: yeah. The only way you get to steer these things is by using, you have to use, you can think about these all you want it doesn't thinking will only take you so far. It's action. It's getting there via action. And these new AI tools are just fantastic 'cause they're basically free. You can pay a little bit more to have access but it's a minor amount of money and you can just be working on a day and night and becoming literally the AI whisperer, becoming the expert. And those 10,000 hours that you'd put into it would make a huge difference. And the code is available. There's open source code all over the place. [00:30:00] So that's just one example. That's an easy example. It could be other things that you want to start up. Maybe it's, again, AI's gonna be a well trodden path. There's gonna be a lot of people going down there that, that definition of success is going to be occupied.

[00:30:19] But if you go in a different direction of something that people or not a lot of people are, chasing whatever that might be, that's. Where you might be slightly ahead of the technology and you might be waiting for the technology to catch up, or people take things to take a technology that exist already and they reuse it from something else that nobody ever thought of. That's, that's what Uber was doing in some senses.

[00:30:45] G P Ss had been around for a long time, but they were just using G P Ss in a new way. That was just really fabulous. I don't know, I don't have any special tips on writing it other than to say, other than[00:31:00] using it yourself. Using it and understanding the harms and the goods and what it's good at and what it's not good at will tell you more than anything else.

[00:31:10] Like vr, ar you can buy a headset and you could be, you. Incredible. You could be exploring all kinds of things that you could even be patenting things right now in AR and vr just because you could be exploring ways to do things like misdirected walking. Do you know about that?

[00:31:32] This is a little, this is a little

[00:31:34] example.

[00:31:35] So this is about, vr virtual reality. We have a goggles on. Okay? And it's dark. It's not the uh, mirror world or the metaverse where you see through it's vr it's VR in a space where you're gonna walk around. So they're using it for games.

[00:31:52] And so the idea is you wanna have a game where you're walking around in this and there's some kind of correspondence with the. Things that you're [00:32:00] feeling with the goggles on? 'cause you can't see anything and what so the idea is that you would see a flaming torch and you'd reach out and you would hold, you'd be holding a wooden pole. So it feels like it's a torch. And as you move it around, it's doing all the things that the torch would do in vr. Okay. So there's a way in which you can take a small room and make it a big room because what they would do is when you're walking, you would see this thing you were going, and when you would turn, you would, your view would you turn to the world and you would walk in that direction.

[00:32:40] But what they're doing is they're, the programmers are slightly cheating you. So you think you're walking in a straight line, but you're actually walking in a circle.

[00:32:51] Josh: I gotcha.

[00:32:53] Kevin Kelly: Okay.

[00:32:53] Josh: That's really smart.

[00:32:55] Kevin Kelly: Really smart. Or they do other things like you're reaching for different [00:33:00] bottles, but there's actually just one bottle there.

[00:33:03] Josh: right.

[00:33:04] That's really interesting.

[00:33:06] Kevin Kelly: interesting. Okay. So my whole point of that is just that somebody could, you could be figuring those things out really early on by exploring and doing cool stuff. And you could just way, way ahead of the curve in terms of being a pioneer in that because, Just because you wanted to play around, because you wanna come to fool around because you wanted to see what would happen if I did this and what would happen if I do that.

[00:33:31] And they could be even patentable ideas that, that eventually some of 'em would come along and say, yeah, we need to do that. So my only point was you could take existing technologies today and you could play to, to go back to our beginning. You could be playing around with them just to fool around and to see what's possible.

[00:33:48] And you could, you would be the pioneer. And 20 years from now they would saying, yeah, I wish I could have just bought a pair VR goggles and just explore to see what it [00:34:00] has been so cheap to have done. Why didn't I do that?

[00:34:02] Josh: I love that. Let's see. Another quote that really resonates with me right now from your book, three Things. You Need the ability to not give up something till It Works. The ability to give up something that does not work, and the trust in other people to help you distinguish between the two.

[00:34:21] Kevin Kelly: Yeah. Yeah, I think that's I preach the gospel of, not being the best, but being the only. But the thing. The weird thing about being the only, or becoming the only, is that you can only become the only with the help of everybody else. You can only, you can't become yourself fully yourself by yourself. You need a whole community to make an individual. There's this paradox there. And so on this trip, on the kind of the journey of deciding whether to abandon something or to give up or to never give up, you may not be able to solve that [00:35:00] yourself. You really do need to rely on other people around you.

[00:35:05] Because we are so opaque to ourselves, we just are the human psyche. The human mind is just deliberately o opaque to itself. So it can't, you can't mess up it, it doesn't, you don't have direct access to the controls of it. 'cause we were just completely, it's like having access to a source code. We would just completely screw it up if we had direct access to it.

[00:35:29] So we're deliberately obscure and we find it really hard to figure out what our actual motivations are and why we do things that's on purpose in terms of evolution. And that, but it makes it really hard for us to know ourselves, to be able to go on this journey of becoming who we should be and who we wanna be.

[00:35:48] The best you. We need outside views because we don't have enough of a view internally. To get there. So [00:36:00] sometimes you have to hear the data, like what doesn't work with people, and other times you have to ignore it. But discerning those is gonna rely on other people to help you say that's definitely something that's real. Everybody sees the problem with you or about this. Okay. Alright. That's a bit of data that, that you need to pay attention to.

[00:36:29] Josh: How do you go about cultivating that type of tight knit. Friendship,

[00:36:36] Kevin Kelly: Yeah,

[00:36:37] Josh: and people who want to enable each other.

[00:36:39] Kevin Kelly: There's, yeah, there's, there a true friend will. Ask you for nothing and give you everything. So most real friendships should be on that basis where there's nothing really expected either way of just, other than just you, you being there. Going beyond that to colleagues and people that you work with. And customers and [00:37:00] clients can also tell you, you also need them for this kind of thing and family where you have no choice about, that's the thing about, that's the definition of the family, is you're stuck with them. Okay? And so the other bits of wisdom I, that I talk about in this book about being generous, about being never be you can't be too kind, right?

[00:37:17] Those are all things that are necessary to maintain those kind of conversations. Like an example would be that the rule of three in a conversation, which is my bit of advice, I think I got it from Esther Perel, this legendary therapist who like, when you're having a tough conversation, the rule of three is that you need to ask three times and listen for the responses to get down to the real basic, fundamental reason for something.

[00:37:51] And that the other person who is divulging actually needs you there to listen and needs you to ask them [00:38:00] because they cannot say it on their own. They cannot get there. They require a willing person to listen, to be able to lift it out of themselves. 'cause they don't know. They don't know it.

[00:38:14] And so you are, it's a co generated thing, the listener by. Demanding to go three levels is actually assisting the person who's revealing this. So it's a team effort to reveal what they're really feeling. 'cause they may not even know themselves. And so that kind of a stance of being willing to listen, to ask the three levels to, to be actively listening is part of how you cultivate people that will tell you things that you need to hear?

[00:38:56] Josh: Yeah, I feel like that's huge. One aspect, [00:39:00] semi-related to that. Being like a friend to yourself is you. You write about learn how to be alone without being lonely. Solitude is essential for creativity.

[00:39:10] Kevin Kelly: Yeah. Yeah. So there is a. Being alone and being lonely and aloneness, solitude is essential for creativity. 'cause when the, when ideas are first born, they're very fragile. That's another bit of advice I have in the book talking about the creative process where you want it to divorce. The genesis cycle from the critic, cycle from the judge cycle, both are absolutely essential to make anything really good.

[00:39:41] But during the initial process of the cycle where you're generating something, where it's genesis, that immediately at that moment, it's a very fragile thing that can be easily suffocated or shouted down, or judged inadequate. And you have to [00:40:00] have the space to work on it without judgment, without criticism.

[00:40:05] Without interference from outside. And that's where the solitude comes in, where you are protecting those initial ideas to see if they can grow into something. And then at some point you're gonna come back and you're gonna be the harshest disseminator and just wly killing them all off, except for the ones that are worth keeping.

[00:40:26] But you have to kinda separate those steps. And so that genesis step needs solitude, isolation at some level.

[00:40:36] Josh: Another really good one that I, I need to think about more is your best job will be one that you were unqualified for because it stretches you, in fact, only apply to jobs you are unqualified

[00:40:49] Kevin Kelly: Mm-hmm.

[00:40:50] Josh: Do you have any particular advice on approaching that process of trying to apply for an unqualified job?

[00:40:58] Kevin Kelly: my other little bit of, job [00:41:00] application device in the book, I think, again, I might not get exactly right, but it was, if you are, you're going to a place to we'll , say a boss, and your main reason for the job is that you need the job then you're just giving that boss another problem.

[00:41:20] You're the problem for the boss. But if you go to the boss and say, Hey, I know you have problems. Here are the problems. I know you have, I will solve those problems for you. You're hired because that's what the boss has. He has nothing but problems. I have a problem here, a problem there. Can you solve that problem?

[00:41:35] If you're coming to me saying, I need a job, you're just, you just added to my problem list. I don't want it, but, so you have to think like the boss, which is what is their problems? Can you solve any of their problems? And then you're golden at that point.

[00:41:52] And so that flip of thinking like the boss and solving the problems is then whether you're qualified or not [00:42:00] is immaterial. It's no, you're gonna solve my problems. You're hired. I was just talking to a friend who was tell, telling me about, at the time, he went to, applied for a job at a restaurant and the guy said, yeah, that's great.

[00:42:12] When can you start now? He literally just he had a problem. He needed, you need someone in the restaurant. Like right now, just like the guy was within the next second, he was like, at work there, he had a problem. He was gonna solve the problem. Can you cook So yes. So the issues of qualification is, and that's my advice then to people who are looking for jobs is find a place where you think you can solve someone's problem.

[00:42:38] Whatever it is, you're a musician. I don't know if they have a bar at night, they need to have customers, they want to have music. Can you provide it? Can you solve that problem? The problem is that the musicians were unreliable. Okay, I'm gonna solve your problem 'cause I'm gonna be here no matter what.

[00:42:52] Every single day. You don't have to ever think about that. I'm gonna solve your problem. So if you approach [00:43:00] it that way then I think the issues of qualifications don't matter. And again, you wanna do something where you think you can you're confident that you can do it even though you've never done it before.

[00:43:11] And that's really great 'cause you're gonna grow in that way.

[00:43:13] Josh: That's great. We're getting close to time here. I got a couple of random grab bag full of questions. If you could master three skills instantly, what would they be and why?

[00:43:27] Kevin Kelly: Oh speak Chinese number one. I've been working on it for a long time. I understand. But you know, Speaking it is another level because of the tones. Second skill: 3 D modeling.

[00:43:43] I just keep bumping my head on that. Getting better. But man, it's slow. The other skill, boy, I'm not very good at skiing. It I would enjoy it more if I was even better at skiing.

[00:43:59] Josh: That's a [00:44:00] fun one. Like it.

[00:44:01] Kevin Kelly: Yeah.

[00:44:02] Josh: also, in the book you talk about probability and statistics as being something good to learn. I'm curious if you have any other meta skills that you would recommend?

[00:44:12] Kevin Kelly: Oh, I see. Just in general. The one I've been preaching about for a long time is optimizing your ability to learn. So learning how to learn and yourself learning how you, yourself learns best and optimizing that, that ability, because that's basically all you're gonna be doing for the rest of your life, is learning new skills.

[00:44:29] And so how do you learn new things best? How much time do you need in between reps? How are you more audible or more visual? Just knowing and optimizing that skill of learning, the meta skill of learning. That's by far the best skill. And by the way, almost nobody has this.

[00:44:52] It's not taught anywhere. I dunno it myself, even though I've been working on this for a long time. It there's, I can't find a [00:45:00] single course available anywhere in the world about the the skill of learning how to learn. But and so there you go. Right there if you want, if entrepreneur, if you want a really great something, figure out, develop the ultimate course on learning how to learn. That's something that the world really needs.

[00:45:19] Josh: Yeah. Do you have any I'm sure you do, but are there any particular books that stand out that have made a big impact on your life?

[00:45:27] Kevin Kelly: I mentioned one called finite and Infinite Games by James Cars. It's actually a hard book to read. You don't even really need to read the first chapter, and you may not even need to read that. You can probably read a summary somewhere. But the idea is very essential, which is, there's two kinds of games in the world.

[00:45:47] There's games where there's winners or losers. Those are finite games. It's very important to play by the rules and be fair. And there's games and most sports, most other [00:46:00] kind of games are that kind of finite games. There's then there's infinite games. And infinite games are a whole different subset.

[00:46:06] And there are no winners or losers. The point of the game is to keep the game going and get as many people playing as possible. And that way everybody's a winner as long as the game is going. And the only way the game continues going is by changing the rules constantly. You're remaking the game, that's what makes it infinite.

[00:46:29] And so those are two different mindsets. And as much as possible, I always head for the places where the infinite game is being played. Winners and losers is basically for losers. And so the Infinite Game's all about winners and the idea is you wanna keep the game going as long as possible. The people who run an organization or a company or their lives and the idea that they're on an infinite game, trying to bring as many people in to keep the game going as much as possible, [00:47:00] that's where I will always head.

[00:47:02] Because the upside is infinite.

[00:47:04] Josh: That definitely resonates with long-term thinking.

[00:47:07] Kevin Kelly: Exactly.

[00:47:08] Josh: Here's a silly one. What songs do you sing when you're alone?

[00:47:12] Kevin Kelly: I am unable to sing,

[00:47:14] Josh: That's okay.

[00:47:15] Kevin Kelly: but. We did do lullabies for our kids to help them sleep. And there was a couple of hymns including Amazing Grace that I would just repeat to them. I would hum since I can't sing, I would hum the hymn. I wonder if it's the same Hum and hymn. And

[00:47:33] Josh: Interesting.

[00:47:34] Kevin Kelly: But there is one other musical thing, which is that when I'm writing, I play the same song on a loop and I know of other writers who do that.

[00:47:46] And some authors will have a song just for that book that they're working on, that project, and then they'll switch it out to another one for another project, which seems, I haven't tried that. That seems like a pretty cool thing that [00:48:00] I might try. And The idea of playing things in a loop.

[00:48:04] I think for me anyway, it works as a way of focusing.

[00:48:08] Josh: Do you mind if I ask what song

[00:48:10] Kevin Kelly: So it was a Russian Orthodox Gregorian chant called the

[00:48:16] Hymn of the Cherubim, and I think it was done by the Bulgarian men's choir

[00:48:22] Josh: Okay, cool. I haven't listened to it. I'll have to check it out.

[00:48:25] Kevin Kelly: sure. You can probably find it.

[00:48:29] Josh: What are some big lessons or values that you've learned from your parents? Could be work-related or life in general?

[00:48:34] Kevin Kelly: Yeah, that's a good question. I think my parents mostly helped me in my parenting wisdom. They were Mostly very fair, but very supportive of my peculiar weirdnesses as a kid. They weren't indulgent, but they were supportive and, I was a little outside the norm and they recognized that and[00:49:00] without, again, without being indulgent, supported what I needed to do.

[00:49:05] And I don't mean by giving me money because I didn't get any money from them to do my projects. But they were supportive in, in, in terms of encouragement and interest. And like my dad knew he was in science, so like he would. He worked for a company to bring back some books that would be about science, so I could read the books and stuff like that.

[00:49:26] And that I think I learned from him that the value of that kind of support, the constant support behind things as being something that kids really treasure. Especially me.

[00:49:40] Josh: I know we're coming up on time here. I got two, two last ones for you. What's one question you would recommend someone take away and ask themselves based on this conversation or from your book?

[00:49:52] Kevin Kelly: Right. So one of my bits of advice in the book is whenever you find yourself asking a question of what you should do next, [00:50:00] you wanna be asking yourself, what do I wanna become?

[00:50:03] Don't work for someone you don't wanna become. So this question of what do I wanna become where, what would a better me look like?

[00:50:10] And that's that sense of becoming of moving towards something, of trying to become your true self, your full self. You wanna be asking what does that look like

[00:50:25] Josh: What's one action you would recommend to the audience?

[00:50:30] Kevin Kelly: One action? The greatest therapy you could do for free is to write down three things that you're grateful for at any time. And to recognize the. No matter where you are in stage in life and how rich or poor you are and how harsh it is that you're still incredibly lucky to acknowledging your luck even being born.

[00:50:57] And so I think [00:51:00] recognizing the luck and being grateful are the actions that to me, are the most powerful things you can do.

[00:51:05] Josh: Fantastic. Well, thank you so much your time.

[00:51:09] You've been very

[00:51:09] Kevin Kelly: It was a real pleasure, Josh. I appreciate it. Thanks for your great questions and for your enthusiasm for my book. I appreciate it. And I hope you have a great day

[00:51:18] Josh: Thank you. You

[00:51:19] Kevin Kelly: all.