Rhys Lindmark: Hello, listeners. Today, I’m excited to chat with Kevin Kelly who has a variety of interesting pursuits. He is a senior maverick for Wired which he helped co-found 28 years ago. He's the author of several books on technological evolution like What Technology Wants and he's also an excellent photographer, is Kickstarting this massive photo book, Vanishing Asia. Kevin, thanks for being on the show, and welcome.
Kevin Kelly: Oh, it's always a pleasure. Thank you for having me and I’m looking forward to our conversation.
Rhys: Me too. Yeah. I think those two big topics are what we're going to dive in today. The Vanishing Asia on one side and then the What Technology Wants and technological evolution on the other side. So let's start with Vanishing Asia and just for the listeners so they know, it's this massive, amazing book, on Kickstarter now. It's 50 years of images that Kevin’s taken. Nine thousand images in the book and he has this Kickstarter that's already raised $400,000 but it's your way to get a pre-order of the book in this kind of amazing way. So I just kind of want to give that for the listeners. I’ll also drop a link in the show notes.
So Kevin, tell us, this is a huge project, I’ve made a couple of these books myself but much smaller in scope, tell us why what was your impetus to make and take on this huge project?
Kevin: So I wound up going to Asia instead of going to college in the early 70s. I arrived in Hong Kong and Taiwan around 1972 completely clueless about anything about Asia. I basically had not been out of New England, had ever eaten Chinese food, held chopsticks, been in a Chinese oriental restaurant of any sort. It was just a complete, different planet for me and I was blown away and educated in a large degree by my travels there.
So it became a large part of my life and I’d gone with this idea that I was going to be a photographer there because in high school I kind of learned photography which at that time meant you were doing the chemistry, it meant that you were developing the film yourselves and you were printing in the darkroom with chemicals and you had to know optics and it was my interest in both being artist and a scientist and photography was this wonderful conversion but I had no idea that or that I didn't originally intend to be like a journalistic or anthropological type of photography or the kind of photography that National Geographic does.
But once I got there that's what my photography turned into. There was this amazing culture and so many things that were interesting and it was evident from almost the first moment that I was there that it was rapidly changing and that it was going and because I could see within my own eyes the speed at which there would be a rice paddy one day and a month later there would be a factory and it was very clear that these things weren't long for the world. But I was originally documenting them just because they were beautiful, just because they were different, just because they were other and I gravitated fairly quickly in a couple of years to kind of trying to find these places where there was some intact or traditional culture.
On the first trip, I had no intentions of ever going back. It was just I was going there to visit a friend who was studying Chinese in Taiwan, who could show me around. It took me so long to earn enough money to just buy a plane ticket there that by the time I arrived he was going to only give me there for a week. So he left me there and I started hitchhiking around Taiwan where there were not even any roads on the eastern part of the country. It was just dirt roads, no paved roads rather and so one of the things I discovered was that there were all these other nearby countries that one could go visit and then it became kind of an addiction where you're in one place and there's always something on the other side of the mountain or down the road that nobody has seen.
Again, when I was traveling in the early 70s, the lack of information is unbelievable and this nobody would believe how, how ignorant we were. When I went to the Philippines, originally, I had no map, there was no guidebook, there was no information. I literally had nothing. There was nothing for a tourist to go and no names. Again, no map and other places of the world I was in like northern Afghanistan. Later on, a few years later, again, I had a rough Bartholomew map of the country with kind of the big cities in, and I literally would take a bus somewhere and have no idea what was at the end of the road. It could be, it could have been another city, it could have been a town, could have been desert, it could have been completely interesting or completely boring. It was, you just never knew.
So anyway, the answer is that I set off without really much expectation and I did not set out to make a book but that idea came later on as I kept returning and I had this compulsion to document it and there were so many things, again, that I would hear about from people and they were writing in notebooks, if you're staying in a hotel you would scribble in, I just came from northern Thailand and you should really... I really enjoyed this town, and that was sort of the little kind of subterranean information network and that was sort of propelling. Later on, I had a family to travel as much. But later on, I came back for business travel. I came back to Asia because Asia was booming, Japan and Korea and China was going to be the next future and it was and is. But I had an opportunity to come for business so I’d always add an additional personal travel and head out to the boondocks out to the remote parts in China, the little tiny villages or, you know, India.
That was when I got the idea of, well, oh, you know, this needs to, I need to share this. Because in the beginning there was no way to share your images. There's no Instagram. There was no social media, even the blog was, Flickr came along pretty late but that was still possible. But for me, I grew up in a kind of a magazine family. I love magazines and books. For me, the form was a book, and that was what coalesced in my mind was I’m going to share this book. The still image and a book worked together very, very well just like moving images work really great on the screen and I began to imagine this book that would have this other world, this trip, this time machine to a place far, far away, long ago. That's what I started to work towards was making a book to share this amazing stuff that I’ve seen.
Rhys: Thank you for telling us that journey there. You went to Asia for college, I’m gonna go see my friend, and before long you're traveling around. I know, for me, just thinking about the impact on my own life and probably, obviously, for you on your life, for me, when I went to, I hadn't been outside of the United States when I went to Nepal and then India and then China for the first time, and it was, whoa, this is the world's out there and for me that was crazy. But I’ve already seen some things on the internet and so for you is double bonus crazy.
I’m thinking about how this book connects to you and your kind of journey with it connects to your techno futurist work? How has that shaped your lens on the world as you went off and did things like Wired or wrote, wrote books and things like that?
Kevin: It's a really great question and the answer kind of in retrospect was profound. There were two huge lessons that I took from that, that are kind of foundational for me. One is the fact that I spent a large portion of my young adult life living in areas that had very little technology. So I had the opportunity to go back in time. Most of that time was served in the medieval ages. Some of it might have been like in the 1800s and occasionally if you get into the tribal areas it's way back and I always kind of judged the remoteness by the iron factor. It was how much iron was present.
As you know, in Nepal, say, going into the hills everything has to be carried in and ported in and it gets very, very expensive. Before there was easy access to roads. The further away you were, the less iron there was the more people did things with wood, fiber, earth, and the native materials. So I spent a lot of time in some of the places that had very little technology of any sort and you know there are several lessons from that. One is people could be content and find happiness but the major, it wasn't that they were unhappy, per se. It was that they didn't have choices. The son was going to do exactly what the father did. The daughter was going to do exactly what the mother did and both of those were a choice of one. They're going to be a farmer and a mother and that was it.
Hidden in among all those people were probably a Beethoven and an Einstein and their genius is lost to us. So I began to see what technology brings to us. The gift that it has and the costs. It's very clear that those costs. There's something about growing up in a beautiful hillside village in Nepal where you're eating organic food. You have a beautiful scene, you have very strong families and support in the community and you know who you are. There's a lot to be said for that but if you're young you're gonna take a one-way ticket out of there. You're gonna go into some of the gritty parts of Kathmandu and or Delhi and with things are kind of rough but you have the possibility of being a web designer or of developing a new kind of eco-tourism or something different that might be more suited to your gifts.
So I saw that and the second thing that I saw was the future. I saw how Asia was rapidly bootstrapping itself out of ancient ways and creating a completely new urban cosmopolitan global culture. Some of the cities that they were building were, were far more advanced than ours over time. I kept returning to those and so I got this sense of the speed at which it was moving into the future and the degree to which it was probably going to be our future in the sense that I believe that just by the sheer numbers of, you know, India and China being three billion just those two countries alone compared to the 350 million in the US, is like 10 times.
So just mathematically, what happens in the US is increasingly not going to be the most important thing happening. So I saw and felt that and that were the two big lessons I got from Asia.
Rhys: I love that. I think that the first one, iron factor is a good way to think about it and you can just go to different places and while you have a more nuanced view on that than maybe other travelers where you, other folks just see, ah, this is rural and they see it all as rural. But you can see, ah, this is kind of like 1800 rural, this is like medieval rural, this is tribal rural. So you can go further, further back in time and I think what you're talking about with the choices reminds me a lot of in What Technology Wants, how you talk about how technology and the technium kind of sucks us towards it and it forces us to have no more choices. It's like you must use technology we're on, you know, a phone call right now or whatever and it provides you so many choices and so there's weird paradox there.
Kevin: Yeah, you could have this, can be paralyzed by so many choices, they called the tyranny or the paradox of choice where they have shown actually in studies where if you go to the supermarket and there are 120 different varieties of mustard, you'll buy less mustard than if there are only 10 varieties for sale. So yes, there is a cost to that abundance that I don't want to slight but I think there's a net gain from it as well.
Rhys: I think your other point there of the future is it's so important to just say it over and over again that's when you think about the world and you think about how many folks are in both Europe but also in the United States. It is just, you know, I love Hans Rosling’s book, Factfulness, and you have one billion people live in North and South America, one billion live in Europe, one billion live in Africa, and then five billion live in Asia. So that's just so much more and then from now to 2100, it'll go from 1115 to 1145. So we're essentially getting three billion more people all in Africa and it's tough for us to how to think about that and those things. It's like we're going to become less and less relevant on the global stage which is all good in the hood. It is what's happening, you know.
Kevin: Yeah, it is and you know we want to remain good neighbors, we want to be good sports about, about this dethronement that's happening right now. We're basically, we, talking about as Americans. America has been dethroned from that kind of soul throne it was on for a long time and that's painful, that's going to hurt. There is no way that psychologically that's not a blow and so what we don't want to do is react in fear or anger and I think, by the way, that one of the better remedies for that is travel once we get past the COVID. Go and confront the otherness in other places and you'll be inspired and hopefully educated in terms of what's really happening on the planet.
Rhys: I love that. I think travel can be such an important and even something there's the “more expensive” plane based travel or other based travel but I really like what you said and from the images that I’ve seen of your book the idea of your book being kind of a time machine and also a geospatial machine where you can just kind of transport yourself, get into one of these books with these thousands of images and just spend an afternoon or whatever just kind of going there and feeling that [overlap] a bit and I think that holds true for me.
Kevin: You know, this is a little bit kind of fast-forwarding into some of the other stuff that I’ve written about including virtual reality, augmented reality but one of the things that happen with that is that I think that the next big thing after smartphones is smart glasses where you put a pair of glasses on and you can normally see through them. They're clear but you can detect or see a layer of a digital world of the same world the digital version and VR is just where you just black out the outside world with the same glasses and you have VR and what's interesting about those is that when you are experiencing the inside of these worlds. That's what it is. It's an experience.
When you take the glasses off, you don't talk about what you saw, you talk about what you experienced because there's something about the volumetric three-dimensional immersion that's very different from seeing a flat-screen where it plays a trick on your brain in the same kind of trick that a series of still images on a screen convinces us that there's movement and you're completely persuaded that the rocket moves across the screen when there was no movement in the same way in this new technology the 3D volumetric convinces us that we had an experience that we were immersed and the point of this is that we're moving to an internet of experiences, we're moving to a place where experiences become the currency and when VR and AR get even better we'll be able to have some of the experiences of otherness that travel often brought.
Right now, even on YouTube, there are people who do walking tourists where they just will put on a GoPro and they'll walk through the back alleyways of New Delhi just recording exactly what they see, no narration, nothing they're just walking through the back alleys at the pace of their walking and that's it and it's unbelievably how powerful that is and now imagine if you do it in three 3D volume in real-time, it can be extremely moving. So you're right, the stuff that we're talking about it's not necessary that you get in a plane and move your flesh 5,000 miles to a different place. You will be able to do and confront this in other ways.
Rhys: Let's keep pulling that thread on these futurist things. I think that there's a, you know, for me, and this kind of transitioning to the second part of our conversation. I’m currently writing a book right now called What Information Wants and as I’ve been doing the research around it for technological and biological evolution, a couple of friends have pointed me, hey man, you got to read more Kevin Kelly.
So I read What Technology Wants even though I had only read Out of Control back in the day and it's been good. I think you really have this macro meta-perspective on biological and technological evolution and so I want to kind of pull a couple of threads there. The first one is thinking about the inevitability of evolution more generally both in biological evolution and technological evolution and on the biological side you have stuff like eyes or wings or whatever being inevitable. It's like we got animals they need two eyes seems a smart thing to have and so we've developed eyes independently across many different species. How do you think about technological evolution and the inevitabilities there and what are the inevitable things that will happen within the next century or so?
Kevin: So I just want to kind of paint a few very broad strokes for the benefit of listeners. First of all, the argument that I make in What Technology Wants and talking about directions in technological evolution, I say, basically, I conclude that the directions of technological progress are an extension of the same forces and directions in biological evolution but I have to say the fact that the claim that evolution has any directions at all is controversial, okay? So some very die-hard Darwinians would say that there ain't any directions in evolution at all and that they're all things that we project. So it's a minority view though there are some very good reputable evolutionary biologists who recognize that there are some directions in evolution but I have to say that it's still a controversial stance.
Rhys: Let me pause for a second on that. I think that's crazy. I mean I think that I’m coming from an outsider view and then you, obviously, I think you agree with me on this but I’m not a biologist but it just seems if we have a repeatable information substrate that is trying out things like a DNA perspective, it's gonna find something like photosynthesis or mitochondria or you know or eyes or whatever. So I think it's kind of a crazy claim.
Kevin: Right, well, there are several things about that, one is even though we all intuitive, you still want to be able to prove it. Secondly, the other question is, where's the mechanism? What layer? Where is that direction being conveyed or controlled? That's a very hard thing to ask or an answer, I should rather say.
So from my viewpoint is that the constraints are buried in the very nature of the physical world and chemistry and biology and the other thing that I would add, just as clarification, is that the claim that I would make about these directions which are inevitable, meaning that they're baked in, is that they're only baked in at a high level, meaning that the equivalent image I would use is if you have imagine raindrops falling down into a valley, the direction of any raindrop is pretty clear, it's like downward into the river but the actual path of a specific raindrop is completely stochastic. You can't predict where the individual path is going to be and it's very, very unpredictable but we do know the direction, which is down.
So, in the same way, we can say, well, if you have another planet with the same kind of gravity and maybe atmosphere that the Earth has, you're going to have quadrupeds, you're going to have vehicles or organisms that have four legs because that is inherently a very physically stable, doable pattern. So a giraffe may be completely unpredictable and never to be seen again but quadrupeds are almost a certainty. So the question, and am I looking at technology, is to kind of say, what's a zebra and what's a quadruped? Right?
So I think at the systems level you can talk about things being inevitable but in terms of the species-specific level this entirely unpredictable. So I would say whether IBM or Apple succeeds that's a species and it's unpredictable but whether AI is going to succeed that's inevitable because we know from biology that making minds is something that has happened over and over and over again and it's a kind of a learning et cetera. There's a whole bunch of reasons to see that as a systems inevitability.
Rhys: That's interesting and thank you for that context for listeners. This is the question of teleology or whatever within, oh, do the genes actually want something? Well, they have this emergent desire where the ones who don't want to replicate get killed or whatever. So the long term, the ones that want to replicate just kind of exist. I do think just another meta note for listeners, and I think Kevin and I are trying to be careful with biological versus technological metaphors and whether there's direct mappings or whether the mappings are not as exact.
I think that and I like your version of the raindrops falling down. We know they're going to go down and my version of that might be, we know that both biological and technological evolution is going to want to kind of capture energy and so something the agricultural or farming convergently evolved or independently evolved many different times within human species or something like brains as you say. It's like, okay, we will want something like brains. Are there other things that come to your mind for what kinds of inevitabilities might exist?
Kevin: Well, yeah, I mean, in my book, What Technology Wants, I kind of make a list of some of the things I think are the general directions and one of them is a movement from general things to specialized things. We see that in life where you start with a kind of a general-purpose cell and then you have more and more specialized cells and I think humans have 50 or I don't remember exactly, 80 different specialized cells in our bodies and technology goes through the same thing where we make a general-purpose camera then we make a high-speed camera and we make infrared camera then we make a high-speed infrared underwater camera, you know.
So it's the same kind of thing of movement from the general to the specific which is also in some ways what we hope our own lives replicate that we go from the kind of a general-purpose baby to a very, very specific role and our very, very specific distinctive combination of talents and what we can do and so you want to become more specific over time and so I think that movement from the general to the specific. The other one is a movement from the simple to the complex which was the obvious one and then there's a movement from dependency just on yourself to increasing mutualism where we're kind of co-dependent, where we form a system, where more and more of life is supported by other life and not just the inner world, where you have co-evolution of multiple species and where we become more social and I would say that in the future our technology would become ever more social.
Now, you mentioned energy there's also a movement to energy density and physicists if they were to look at the technology in the abstract, would say, you know there's a certain amount of ergs calories so to speak that flow through a certain amount of mass in a certain amount of time and that over in galactic evolution that has been increasing and in life even though we operate at a kind of a lower temperature the amount of energy that goes through a particular mass in a particular time is actually greater than the sun, okay, and the reason why the sun is just that it's so heavy that it can take a big amount of energy.
But actually, there is more in the density going through the life and here's what the big surprise, is that your laptop has even a higher density than life and there's some kind of jokes about they're basically, in some ways, as we refine our laptops, the amount of energy, they're thermonuclear bombs in the sense of the amount of energy per density that they have and you're trying to control that. So if we imagine supercomputers in the future, they're going to be incredibly dangerous in a certain sense because in order to process faster they're going to have to keep moving more energy through the same density faster which is going to be the challenge. So I would say that's another movement over time.
Rhys: I love both those, I want to highlight two of them for the listeners. One is that codependency one is so crucial because it's like DNA forming onto an actual chromosome or multicellular organisms where the cells themselves all combine to make sure that the germline continues. Or society, so for you and I, we're kind of codependent in this society. It's like if I went out alone I would kind of be screwed, I might not be able to replicate like being part of a bigger thing.
So I think that one's fascinating and the other one from the general to specific, it's like niche construction where you have a bunch of niches either biological or technological or social niches that are being created and then things need to fill those niches and I think that it's very aligned with some of the folks around, the passion economy or whatever on the internet where you're trying to kind of differentiate yourself from Twitter, like who am I? What niche do I fill? So I think that's interesting.
Talking about metaphors in your book, the technium as a metaphor and I’m thinking about what kinds of different metaphors one can use and there's the noosphere and the geosphere, the biosphere, tell me about why you think or why you use the technium instead of these other metaphors like the global brain or something like that?
Kevin: Well, I do use another metaphor called Holos. So I think there is a difference between the technium and holos. So I defined the technium as the system of all everything that's made by a mind, any kind of a mind, which we kind of in the vernacular would we call technology but technology also means a very specific kind of technology so I use the general term of the technium to mean the system of all technology because it is a system in the sense that it takes a saw to make a hammer, handle and takes the hammer to make a saw, you have this codependency today to make a computer takes thousands of different technologies which also take computers to run and so we have a system in which all the technological things that we're surrounded by are co-dependent on each other.
That system of all the technologies I call the technium, okay, and it's anything that minds create or make versus say the natural world. So the natural world, the system on this planet is called Gaia, which is this idea of all the living systems, living and inert. Okay, so this is where we get into atmosphere regulation. The fact that there is a regulation of the planet and the oxygen so you have a co-evolution of the biological natural world and the physical world and what people don't realize is the degree to which life has influenced the geology of this planet, okay?
Life, the fact that we had so much life actually helped make continental drift, actually help make the tectonic plates, it actually is instrumental in basically the form of the mountains that we see. If there wasn't life on this planet, we would not have the same terrain that we have and as we go forward we're now altering the atmosphere and the chemistry which will in the long term and geological ages have some impact. So that is called Gaia. That's the second system of the physical living planet as it self-regulates and maintains the oxygen. So the thing about our atmosphere is that you could identify that there was life on this planet from a billion miles away once you identified their atmosphere because it has elevated levels of oxygen which are not natural. They normally would just burn up whatever iron was on the planet and rust it but the fact that we maintain levels of it is out of disequilibrium which means that there's a life there's an energy source, a kind of what I call exotropic entity that goes against the general entropy which would happen with oxygen and iron would turn into rust, that's entropy.
But we don't have that and so you could say, well, there's life on that planet. Anyway, that's Gaia. Now, I think as we take the tactium and Gaia and all the humans we have we are making a new hole and I call that holos. Holos is the union of or this new system of all the machines on this planet, all the minds on this planet, and all the natural life on this planet forms a new entity, that is a whole system, and that's the holos, okay? So we are just kind of getting our minds wrapped around where that goes and how that works and again some of the things they're just talking about well the technium is inner is interfacing or influencing the Gaia is evidence of the holos.
Rhys: I like your definition of technium. You just kind of going back off the stack there. First, on the technium side, the made by a mind thing, I think is a pretty relatively correct definition for that which is there are things that are made by the information in DNA and in genes and that's the biosphere or whatever and then there are things that are made by minds a.k.a. meme interactions and that those are something like the technium and then…
Kevin: Right. So I would include anything that AI's would make and I would also include beaver dams and bird nests.
Rhys: Yeah, interesting, all the kind of extended phenotype kind of things. I think that that's one way to view it. Let me push back on that for a second, how do you think about, you know, when I was reading your book and I was thinking about you know the information layer and you have the genes and the genes create the tree of life and then you have this new weird thing with humans where we have language and language can create this tree of ideas through something like memes, these replicating entities. I was kind of surprised that what technology once didn't have that much on memes or at least not that I remember, how do you think about how memes play a role here yeah with something like the technium or kind of this tree of ideas and humans?
Kevin: Yeah, you know, Susan Blackmore has really kind of explored memes. I think they're present you know I didn't spend much time about the selfish gene either I think it's true maybe it's useful but I don't know what their, what is predicting, or how useful in terms of its predictions are. So I would say, I honor and acknowledge it. I think it's they're actually real in a sense and maybe they're useful to someone thinking about it but I didn't really go very much with them because they weren't that useful to me.
I think the issues of information which you are kind of trying to investigate are is very crucial and there's a lot to say about the information layer that hasn't been said either by me or others and then there are many you know directions to go on it one is there you know at the cosmic level I think there's definitely a movement from most of the universe being originally kind of being energy and then we know that there's an equivalency between matter, energy, and information. They’re actually three facets of the same thing, okay?
That doesn't seem to make sense to us. That information part of it is the most unknown where even though we have dark matter and dark energy meaning that 95% of the universe we have no idea what it is. It's possible that it may be connected to information, okay? But we don't have very good ideas about how those are but we do know that there is an equivalency between them and so the information is the kind of the newest part and we have lots of questions about it. Is it conserved totally throughout the universe? Can you destroy information in any way? What's the relationship between information and extropy in the whole universe when you have not just a local area?
So to begin with I think it's a very very fruitful area but also we really don't know very much about it. Secondly, I think that in the goodness of time we're going to reinterpret all of physics that we know in terms of information theory. That's my hunch and it'll be a big undertaking to understand that but it would be very exciting when we do to kind of unify it so for me the great unification theory is not so much about gravity waves and the quantum world. It's actually where does information fit into that because if we can unify that then we have I think a much more powerful theory and I just want to emphasize how far we are from having any notion about how that's done.
Rhys: It's crazy to think that just information as an idea only really came about in the 40s, 50s as Shannon and folks were looking at genes and looking at computers and trying to do air correction being, hey, there's a similar thing here, and now we can take it for granted. You and I and other folks I guess take it for granted these days it's like, oh man, you can think in terms of bits, like all of us as much of society can think in terms of bits now. That's crazy it would be very exciting…
Kevin: Right, there's a very famous physicist, Wheeler, who made the statement that “It's or bits. It's. Anything that is it is actually a bit.” And that's my basic perspective, it's or bits. How they're reconciled and what's the relationship? We don't know but I know some of the current quantum theories they kind of take a relational idea and I suspect that's something inherent information is that it's a relational thing and so I for me when I kind of look forward into the future of physics that's what I would see that's what I expect to see I should say is that it being kind of recast in especially the quantum weirdness stuff in terms of information. But you know again, I have to emphasize, if you ask someone physicists or others to make a definition of information. It just doesn't work.
Rhys: I just want to highlight one thing before we start to get into wrap-up mode here which is I love what you said, I mean, I agree with your formation of the holos, in terms of, sometimes I call Nature 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0. We have biological world you know nature and earth and then there's the humans and the minds and then there's nature 3.0, this new AI thing with machines or whatever and so it's like we have these three sets of things that are going to be co-evolving with each other going forward and how can we make sure that they co-evolve in kind of a delightful beautiful way. I think that's interesting.
Kevin: Right. So we're trying to manage the evolution of the holos is the way I would put it and I would say again that if you visited other planets particularly any advanced civilization on their planet they would have their own holos. If they're doing it well and where they are integrated it's the integration of all the minds on the planet all the things made from minds and all the natural original material and there's going to be, they're going to interact somehow or other but the degree to which you can manage it and even direct it, that's what the holos is about.
Rhys: Yeah, and that gets into the complexities of emergent systems and making sure that you have nice small rules that kind of result in positive emergent behavior. I have one final question here which is too quick overrated and underrated, where I’m just going to ask you an overrated and underrated thing. Do you think that DSLRs are overrated or underrated?
Kevin: They're underrated. Well, DSL... okay, let me back up. If you mean by a DSLR, you mean literally a single-lens reflex kind of a camera I would say they're overrated. If you just mean digital cameras, I would say they're underrated. So and of course, I would include in that like your phone. So I don't think cameras are standalone things with lenses and mirrors that go up and down or any. They're kind of being, I would say, dinosaurs or reptiles, they're going to be around but they're going to have a very, very specialized thing. Everything is going towards digital so if that's what you mean I would say they're overrated.
Rhys: Yeah, I was kind of thinking, do you use it like one of those single-camera DSLRs or are you more of a, hey use whatever's in your phone kind of a thing?
Kevin: Well, I use a Lumix which is a fixed lens, no mirror. It’s not actually classified as a DSLR but it looks like a camera and so someone would point to that's an old-fashioned camera but it's actually not DSLR. I think the new fashion cameras are going to be on your phone and this is something that I’ve been talking about for a long time. It's flat lenses where you have an insect lens, you'd have maybe hundreds of lenses on your phone, maybe different parts of your phone compiling and doing depth perception and all kinds of things. So, yeah, I think the future of the phone is the future of the camera.
Rhys: Yeah, I love that and I think it reminds me of one of my housemates who has one of these newfangled Google pixels whatever phones and the back of it looks like an insect eye. It got 10 different [overlap]. You can't have too many, exactly.
Well, I think we're out of time today but Kevin, thank you so much again for coming on. Hey, for the listeners, definitely check out. I’ll put in the show note links but Kickstarter, Vanishing Asia. If you just google that you'll be able to find that. It's a really amazing, again, 9,000 images of really massive, amazing piece of work. So it's cool to just go there and check it out and then also check out if you're interested in this technological and biological evolution stuff, definitely check out some of Kevin’s talks or books on the internet about you know what technology wants or things like that. Kevin, anything else to say for listeners? Any place that you want to point them towards?
Kevin: Yeah, the book is a thousand pages. It was too big to fit on my lap, my prototype, so I divided it into three very big, two big books, weighs 27 pounds, you need to have room on your shelf for sure. But the other thing that I do and have been done for five years is I have a weekly newsletter called Recommendo. Where I recommend with Mark Frauenfelder, my partner. We recommend six really cool things of all types every week, free newsletter called Recommendo. So that's my other love and it's really been a joy combining my two passions of technology and Asia and photography into one podcast. So thank you, Rhys. I really appreciate it.
Rhys: Thank you so much, Kevin, and yeah, excited for us to connect and listeners, definitely check out the stuff on the interwebs and we'll see you next time. Goodbye, everybody.
Kevin: Okay, bye.