The other day I was interviewed by Ken Wilber, a new age theorist. I had not read any Wilber before the interview, nor had ever met him, but I had heard his name over the years while I edited the Whole Earth Catalogs. He had a reputation for a holistic framework for spirituality that appealed to those whole wanted spirituality without religion. I gathered Wilber was into evolution as a spiritual force so I thought it would be an interesting conversation. His organization Integral Life set up the phone interview which lasted several hours. We got pretty light-headed as we went along, getting into late night dorm-room speculations about the larger meaning of life. I had a chance to try out my emerging understanding of some of the more cosmic implications of technology. And Wilber was a good partner to blue sky with. I call myself a techno-transcendentalist and Wilber encouraged me to philosophize in that direction. I must have said something interesting since Wilber is posting an audio file our conversation in three parts on his Integral website. Regrettably, the dialog has not been edited, or condensed (at least the part I checked), in the way a tight text Q&A might be, so you’ll have to slog through the whole thing to get to the highlights.
Here is what Corey deVos, Integral’s Editor says about the interview:
Exploring The Technium.
Part 2. Spiritual Machines.
Kevin Kelly and Ken Wilber
In the second installation of this extraordinary dialogue, Kevin Kelly and Ken Wilber discuss the nature of evolutionary emergence—the mysterious process by which new wholes manifest in the universe, each greater than the sum of their parts. They speak about humanity’s role in this evolutionary process, especially in the creation of new types of intelligences: living, breathing, thinking machines.
“Our job is to surprise God.” — Kevin Kelly
In this very special dialogue, Kevin Kelly and Ken Wilber discuss the spiritual implications of this mysterious process, what Kevin refers to as “up-creation.” While humanity can be currently seen as the pinnacle of evolution in this corner of the universe, we are by no means the final word in this extraordinary story, and will one day be inevitably subsumed by something greater than ourselves—something that will undoubtedly emerge through us, while becoming something much more than us. Humanity represents a process of evolution becoming self-aware, which means that we are now actively participating with evolution, midwives to a future that simultaneously transcends and includes the entire human condition.
I should also mention that ordinarily Integral charges a subscription for access to their material, but as part of the condition of the interview I insisted that our conversation be available openly, for free. Which it is.