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Kevin Kelly on Excellent Advice for Living, Universal AI Assistants, Time Machines, and The Power of Fully Becoming Yourself (#669)

Kevin Kelly on Excellent Advice for Living, Universal AI Assistants, Time Machines, and The Power of Fully Becoming Yourself (#669)

Illustration via 99designs | Photo originally by Christopher Michel

“Your goal in life is to be able to say on the day before you die that you have fully become yourself.”

— Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly (@kevin2kelly) helped launch and edit Wired magazine. He has written for The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, among many other publications.

He is the author of the new book Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I Wish I’d Known EarlierOther books by Kevin Kelly include Out of Control, the 1994 classic book on decentralized emergent systems; The Silver Cord, a graphic novel about robots and angels; What Technology Wants, a robust theory of technology; Vanishing Asia, his 50-year project to photograph the disappearing cultures of Asia, and The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future, a New York Times bestseller.

Kevin is currently co-chair of The Long Now Foundation, which is building a clock in a mountain that will tick for 10,000 years. He also has a daily blog; a weekly podcast about cool tools; and a weekly newsletter, Recomendo, a free, one-page list of six very brief recommendations of cool stuff. He is also a Senior Maverick at Wired. He lives in Pacifica, California.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Amazon Musicor on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.

Brought to you by LinkedIn Jobs recruitment platform with 900M+ users, Pique premium pu’er tea crystals, and Eight Sleep’s Pod Cover sleeping solution for dynamic cooling and heating.

The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#669: Kevin Kelly on Excellent Advice for Living, Universal AI Assistants, Time Machines, and The Power of Fully Becoming Yourself

This episode is brought to you by PiqueI first learned about Pique through my friends Dr. Peter Attia and Kevin Rose, and now Pique’s fermented pu’er tea crystals have become my daily go-to. I often kickstart my mornings with their Pu’er Green Tea and Pu’er Black Tea, and I alternate between the two. This rare type of naturally fermented tea is more concentrated in polyphenol antioxidants than any other tea. It supports focus and mental clarity, healthy digestion, metabolism, and a healthy immune system. Their crystals are cold extracted, using only wild-harvested leaves from 250-year-old tea trees. Plus, they triple toxin screen for heavy metals, pesticides, and toxic mold—contaminants commonly found in tea. I also use the crystals for iced tea, which saves a ton of time and hassle. 

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Go to EightSleep.com/Tim and save $250 on the Eight Sleep Pod Cover. Eight Sleep currently ships within the USA, Canada, the UK, select countries in the EU, and Australia.

This episode is brought to you by LinkedIn Jobs. Whether you are looking to hire now for a critical role or thinking about needs that you may have in the future, LinkedIn Jobs can help. LinkedIn screens candidates for the hard and soft skills you’re looking for and puts your job in front of candidates looking for job opportunities that match what you have to offer.

Using LinkedIn’s active community of more than 900 million professionals worldwide, LinkedIn Jobs can help you find and hire the right person faster. When your business is ready to make that next hire, find the right person with LinkedIn Jobs. And now, you can post a job for free. Just visit LinkedIn.com/Tim.

Want to hear one of my favorite conversations with Kevin? Listen to this interview (recorded in three short parts), in which we discussed population implosions, The Long Now Foundation, organizational methods for learning, Amish technology assimilation, why you don’t want to be a billionaire, the greatest gift you can give to your child, and much more!

#25: Interview of Kevin Kelly, Co-Founder of WIRED, Polymath, Most Interesting Man In The World?

#26: Interview of Kevin Kelly, Co-Founder of WIRED, Polymath, Most Interesting Man In The World?

#27: Interview of Kevin Kelly, Co-Founder of WIRED, Polymath, Most Interesting Man In The World?

What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Erratum: In the interview, Nova Scotia was named as the setting for Anne of Green Gables, whereas the setting is Prince Edward Island.



  • Connect with Kevin Kelly:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube


  • [05:51] Is Kevin Kelly the most interesting man in the world?
  • [08:37] Kevin’s long bet against the human population.
  • [15:00] Out Of Control.
  • [19:34] Why did it take 11 years to complete The Silver Cord?
  • [24:28] 1,000 True Fans.
  • [29:48] Kevin’s failed campaign to discover all the species of life on Earth.
  • [31:31] Stewart Brand.
  • [36:20] Resurrecting extinct species.
  • [39:38] Why Kevin believes optimists shape the future.
  • [42:48] Active optimism vs. passive optimism.
  • [46:39] What constitutes progress?
  • [48:18] Is regression inevitable if we don’t embrace “degrowth?”
  • [52:38] Kevin’s $20 time machine.
  • [55:27] Will AI take our jobs?
  • [1:07:58] The future of AI is dumbsmarten.
  • [1:10:50] What’s currently underhyped?
  • [1:13:20] Posting an AI picture a day keeps Kevin at play.
  • [1:15:29] How Kevin uses AI chatbots to help write first drafts.
  • [1:21:40] Potential scenarios for where AI will be going soon.
  • [1:24:38] What prompted Kevin to write Excellent Advice for Living?
  • [1:28:46] Examples of Kevin’s simple, tweetable advice.
  • [1:32:02] Don’t aim to be the best. Be the only.
  • [1:35:32] Good uses of time spent with one’s children.
  • [1:38:47] Tips for traveling with children.
  • [1:42:22] Being a tourist in your own town and troubleshooting advice.
  • [1:45:06] What Kevin hopes readers will take away from Excellent Advice for Living.
  • [1:46:37] Sabbaticals.
  • [1:52:17] How Kevin uses YouTube.
  • [1:56:03] Why is Kevin huge in China?
  • [1:59:16] Fully becoming yourself and other parting thoughts.


“It isn’t as if these mechanical systems are imitating biology. I’m saying they actually have the same dynamics. The dynamics that are powering biology are powering the technium and the technology. It’s the same.”
— Kevin Kelly

“It’s very hard to make good, complicated things work because generally there’s more ways things can fail than they can succeed, and it’s very unlikely that we’re going to make something really good that’s complicated, inadvertently. They’re hard to do. So we have to see it and believe that it can be done, and that is where the optimism comes in, is envisioning something and then believing that you could make it real.”
— Kevin Kelly

“Exotropy is this idea of this increasing order that comes at the cost of increasing entropy.”
— Kevin Kelly

“Tools will get specialized. They will become so embedded that we will cease to think about them.”
— Kevin Kelly

“There’s something I call thinkism, which is this reliance on trying to solve problems by thinking about them.”
— Kevin Kelly

“You can find no better medicine for your family than regular meals together without screens.”
— Kevin Kelly

“What you do on your bad days matters more than what you do on your good days.”
— Kevin Kelly

“Greatness is incompatible with optimizing in the short term.”
— Kevin Kelly

“You don’t marry a person, you marry a family.”
— Kevin Kelly

“If you can’t tell what you desperately need, it’s probably sleep.”
— Kevin Kelly

“Don’t aim to have others like you, aim to have them respect you.”
— Kevin Kelly

“A balcony or porch needs to be at least six feet deep or it won’t be used.”
— Kevin Kelly

“Learn to tie a bowline knot. Practice in the dark with one hand for the rest of your life. You’ll use this knot more times than you could ever believe.”
— Kevin Kelly

“When you feel pressure to pick a choice, don’t forget the choice of not choosing any.”
— Kevin Kelly

“When you’re in your twenties, you should spend a little bit of time doing something that’s sort of crazy, insane, unprofitable, unorthodox, orthogonal, because that’s going to be your touchstone and the foundation of your success later on.”
— Kevin Kelly

“Don’t aim to be the best. Be the only.”
— Kevin Kelly

“You want to be doing something where it’s hard to explain to your mother what it is that you do.”
— Kevin Kelly

“Your enjoyment of travel is inversely proportional to the size of your luggage.”
— Kevin Kelly

“For the best results with your children, spend only half the money you think you should but double the time with them.”
— Kevin Kelly

“A vacation plus a disaster equals an adventure.”
— Kevin Kelly

“If an elementary school student is struggling, first thing, check their eyesight.”
— Kevin Kelly

“Purchase the most recent tourist guidebook to your hometown or region. You’ll learn a lot by playing the tourist once a year.”
— Kevin Kelly

“To signal an emergency, use the rule of three: Three shouts, three horn blasts, or three whistles.”
— Kevin Kelly

“When you’re stuck, explain your problem to others. Often simply laying out a problem will present a solution. Make ‘explaining the problem’ part of your troubleshooting process.”
— Kevin Kelly

“Your goal in life is to be able to say on the day before you die that you have fully become yourself.”
— Kevin Kelly


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