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Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World
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Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  772 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Out of Control chronicles the dawn of a new era in which the machines and systems that drive our economy are so complex and autonomous as to be indistinguishable from living things.
Paperback, 528 pages
Published April 14th 1995 by Basic Books (first published 1992)
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Don't let the fact that it took me 10 months to finish this book impact your decision to read it; Out of Control was a well-worthy, remarkable effort, which should be given a careful and thorough read.

So, why 10 months? Kevin Kelly is very wordy. Yes, Kelly provides fascinating insights and revelations about machine biology, "hive mind" theory, co-evolution, the evolution of computers, and the future of planet Earth. But he does all of this with about 200 pages more than are actually necessary t
Disturbing and reassuring at the same time. One of those books which approach the current state of world chaos from a unique angle and helps one try to make sense of what's going on.

Reassuring in that Kelly gives us something of a method to dissect current technological trends. He offers a quirky kind of philosophical outlook towards the alarming aspects of modernism which says, "relax, just trust in science" (because, and I paraphrase) 'science is ultimately displaying an organic style of devel
This is a fascinating book full of fascinating ideas reaching across the board from artificial intelligence, evolution, biology, ecology, robotics and more to explore complexity, cybernetics and self-organising systems in an accessible and engaging way.

But despite the fascinating topic matter, "Out of Control" has a number of frustrating flaws:
- It is way too long-winded.
- It is full of weird conjecture and meta-philosophising, which may have inspired the creators of the Matrix trilogy, but wh
Nathanael (Boehm) Coyne
Apr 20, 2012 Nathanael (Boehm) Coyne rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nathanael by: Stilgherrian
Shelves: favourite
This book blew me away - so much I didn't know about systems theory, hive mind and distributed redundant networks in nature and their application in technology. Amazing, highly recommended, even if the book is 15 years old now.
Scott Neal Reilly
Jun 19, 2008 Scott Neal Reilly rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in interesting books
This is a great book. It covers a huge amount of material on complex systems, from robotics to economics to human psychology to ecology and more. Kevin Kelley is able to present relatively complex ideas like a well-versed scientist, but do it with the simple, engaging clarity of an excellent writer.

There were a couple of pages that related to a project that I worked on back in grad school and where I know that he didn't get the material quite right, so I suspect that he was not perfectly true t
What a book! I will be thinking about the concepts and ideas presented in this book for a long, long time. Kelly is a little more at home writing magazine articles, and sometimes the book lacks a coherent thesis, but that is more than made up for with wonderful prose, and an unbridled excitement for his subject.

This book attempts to dissect the study of the unpredictable. From biological evolution to artificial intelligence to economies, it examines how and why complex, unpredictable systems for
I didn't read the whole thing, but just the first few chapters. I think it was sufficient for my purposes, but also very relevant. I love it when descriptions of natural systems match what you note about your own life or about God's purposes. It was somehow comforting to read the way biological systems organize (bottom-up, diversified, disorganized, and uncontrolled) and find that this way has advantages over our own way of organization (top-down, goal-oriented, organized, controlled). I'll have ...more
Wessel van Rensburg
This is techno determinism on steroids, free market orientated and utopian. Digital darwinism would be an apt description in fact. It reads like poetry at times, which is surprising considering how much of it is about business.

Very dated, but thats too be expected. He got it right that new media would be a powerful, liberating force for some, what he got wrong is that the new Networks won't have Hierarchy. And neither did the dawning of the digital post industrial society bring prosperity to the
Jose Espín
One of the first serious attempts to understand how evolving complexity is affecting out lives, my really first approach to chaos theory as a way to understand complex phenomena
Dave Peticolas

This is an extended meditation on the idea that the worlds of biology and technology are converging, with consequences for both. Along the way we meet lots of interesting thinkers and doers and see what sort of crazy things some of them have been up to (Biosphere 2 anyone?).

Kelley's a pretty good writer and, while all of his theses don't ultimately mesh together, I can't recall reading another book with as many densely packed ideas as this one.

Lamec Mariita
I found the book very enjoyable,entertaining and nice to read. The book's style is a combination of personal observations and interviews with leaders in their field. It's a must for anyone new to the field of Artificial Life. it won't bog you down with formulas and proofs, but is excellent in demonstrating that much of our current knowledge points to some revolutionary conclusions. This book is recommended if you are interested in stretching your mind and possibilities to new limits
While working with the author who goes by the same name as myself, I had the opportunity to read his book. It was a complex and fascinating look into the merging of biology and technology and the resulting impact it's having on culture. His concept of the hive mind resonated with me, coming from an IT background. As my friends well know, I referred to the hive mind whenever I had the chance. This book has a major influence on the making of the film, "The Matrix".
Feb 25, 2013 lei added it
what an amazing book!lt's hard to read before you have finished the <>by Charles Robert Darwin.then it is easier to see what K.K want to tell you after you have read Peter F.Drucker's books!according of my written english ,the only i may promise : it is worthy to read as a businessman!by the way ,the details is easy to see if you focus!
Broad overview of studies of complex systems of different kinds. It comes with detailed bibliography and can certainly be a starting point if you have casual interest in the field.

As is usually the case with books written by journalist, not a scientist, some of author's generalizations and insights are trivial, so I give the book 4 stars7
Bowei Zhang
It is really unbelievable that this book was written back in 90s. I would say it mentioned so many 'crazy' ideas (Gaia hypothesis, collective unconsciousness etc.) and really changed me. Moreover, I was watching a classic anime called Serial Experiments Lain during my reading period. They worked together like Oreo and milk, which is worth a trial!
Liked this book, but it was written over a decade ago about "cutting edge" issues, so it comes across as dated in some aspects. And the chapters are somewhat disconnected, so the overall narrative of the book didn't keep me engaged. I gave up about half way through.

I wish I had picked it up when it first came out.
Jul 17, 2014 Lin is currently reading it
How do you know bees are idiots?
Claire S
This was required reading for a masters-level class I took on Chaos and Complex Systems. I guess people who know more about such things have multiple criticisms of this work, but for an ingenue like me, it was fascinating! I'm very interesting in other science-for-layperson type things..
The parts where Kelly discusses technology are dated, and worth skipping. But his overview of evolutionary biology is comprehensive, and the way he connects it to the realm of the made is inspirational and compelling. It's given me new starting points for thinking about complexity.
As interesting as some parts of the book are, as tedious are others. I have skipped over a few chapters that were really hard to get through, but then again, the parts that are worth it, are _really_ worth it. In short, I feel dual towards this book.
Wei Luo
I just simply feel I am ignorant when I was reading this book. This book concludes with the nine laws of nature, society, and technology through reviewing biology, economics, sociology, management, business, human intelligence....
absolutely one of my favourite books. Kelly reviews and discusses biological concepts (growth, learning, evolution, intelligence) in relation to machines.

cannot recommend it enough. Why did I not read this earlier?
Words Deeds
Amazing, life changing book. It's sprawling, and full of life. He walks readers from crowd control crowd sourcing beginnings all the way to the end of life, and back to its origin. Mind bogglingly long, full and rich.
I read this book about 12 years ago and I still talk about some of the little vignettes about hive theory and biospheres and out of control robotics. You don't even have to like science, it's awesome.
James Ravenscroft
Still in the process of reading this gem. It is a fascinating compilation of reports and concepts that provide a fantastic insight into what happens when machines get smart.
Kevin Kelly's study of emergent complex systems (chaos) and how they can and do affect technology. Was a required reading for the 'Matrix' cast and crew.
Liliana Cruz
It's one of those books, that everyone must read. Shows us a different perspective to see technology and the real importance of this in our lifes.
didn't really read enough to get a proper impression but I found the way it was written pretty off-putting, so I didn't finish it...
Paulina Borsook's "Cyberselfish" exposes the rot at the core of this devil-take-the-hindmost vision. But it's a fun read.
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Read it Online at Author's Website 2 13 Jun 01, 2010 03:29PM  
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Kevin Kelly is Senior Maverick at Wired magazine. He co-founded Wired in 1993, and served as its Executive Editor from its inception until 1999. He is also editor and publisher of the Cool Tools website, which gets half a million unique visitors per month. From 1984-1990 Kelly was publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Review, a journal of unorthodox technical news. He co-founded the ongoing Hack ...more
More about Kevin Kelly...
What Technology Wants Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities New Rules for the New Economy Cool Tools Signal : communication tools for the information age, a Whole Earth catalog

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“‎What color is a chameleon placed on a mirror?
The chameleon responding to its own shifting image is an apt analog of the human world of fashion. Taken as a whole, what are fads but the response of a hive mind to its own reflection?
In a 21st-century society wired into instantaneous networks, marketing is the mirror; the collective consumer is the chameleon.”
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