REVIEW: “The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future” by Kevin Kelly

Reviewed by Tony Faccenda, Senior Account Manager, Bite

From one of our leading technology thinkers and writers, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future is a guide through the technological imperatives that will shape the next 30 years, and transform our lives.

Much of what will happen in the next 30 years is inevitable, driven by technological trends that are already in motion. In this fascinating, provocative new book, Kevin Kelly provides an optimistic road map for the future, showing how the coming changes in our lives — from virtual reality in the home, to an on-demand economy, to artificial intelligence embedded in everything we manufacture — can be understood as the result of a few long-term, accelerating forces. Kelly describes these deep trends flowing, screening, accessing, sharing, filtering, remixing, tracking, and questioning and demonstrates how they overlap and are co-dependent on one another. These larger forces will completely revolutionise the way we buy, work, learn, and communicate with each other.

What you could learn from it:

  • We are used to industry commentators, and media especially, viewing technological developments through a negative and skeptical lens. We have to remind ourselves that often we are actually in control of our destiny and therefore have the opportunity to affect positive change and create the future we want to see and experience.
  • We have entered protopia, a ‘state of becoming, rather than a destination’. In this state we are continually seeing small, incremental improvements to our daily lives, rather than large jumps in technological progress. This is apparent in everything from regular app updates and the availability of new and improved hardware. We don’t recognise this on a daily basis, but can look back year on year and see huge improvements in the technologies we use.
  • Humans shouldn’t fear robots taking jobs; robots will perform tasks we can’t do, don’t want to do, and didn’t even know could be done, freeing us to discover new jobs for ourselves, and new tasks that expand who we are.
  • We should think of the world in terms of ‘flow’; information is becoming more fluid, following through our lives in real-time. This has been apparent in music, books and movies, and will increasingly spread to areas such as games, newspapers, and education.

My verdict:

I recommend reading this book. In our life and work we are acutely aware that the world is fast-changing, and this book does a wonderful job of capturing the different forces that are driving this change, and what we can expect in the coming years and decades. Kelly’s writing style is incredibly simple and engaging, making this the perfect read for the train home.

@TonyFaccenda