The Inevitable. Understanding the 12 Technological Forces that Will Shape Our Future, by Kevin Kelly
Kevin Kelly is the cofounder and Senior Maverick of Wired Magazine. Founding member of The Long Now Foundation (which focuses in fostering long-term thinking and long-term responsibility). Nomadic photojournalist, publisher of The Whole Earth Catalog, and author of several books like What Technology Wants (2010), and often-cited inspiring articles like 1,000 True Fans.
Kevin Kelly has an impressive ability to think out of the box and analyze the implications of technology from different angles. With “inevitable”, Kelly means that there is a bias in the nature of technology that tilts in certain directions and not others. “All things being equal, the physics and mathematics that rule the dynamics of technology tend to favor certain behaviors.”
In the past 30 years the social economy based on this technology has had its ups and downs and seen its heroes come and go, but it is very clear that there have been large-scale trends governing what has happened.
These broad historical trends are crucial because the underlying conditions that birthed them are still active and developing, which strongly suggests that these trends will continue to increase in the next few decades.
This book is about 12 of these patterns, inevitable technological forces — according to Kelly — that will shape the next 30 years. These tendencies do not dictate specifics or particular instances. For example, “the form of an internet — a network of networks spanning the globe — was inevitable, but the specific kind of internet we chose to have was not.”
Massive copying is here to stay. Massive tracking and total surveillance is here to stay. Ownership is shifting away. Virtual reality is becoming real. We can’t stop artificial intelligences and robots from improving, creating new businesses, and taking our current jobs. It may be against our initial impulse, but we should embrace the perpetual remixing of these technologies. Only by working with these technologies, rather than trying to thwart them, can we gain the best of what they have to offer.
“These forces are trajectories, not destinies. They offer no predictions of where we end up. They tell us simply that in the near future we are headed in these directions.”
This book reads like a conversation with the author. For each trend, Kelly points out what’s happening today, both mainstrean and at the edges of technology. Then he speculates about what the future could look like. Along the way he shares personal stories and experiences to help us better understand his point of view.
If you are interested in technology trends, this book will book will give you a glimpse of what the future can become, well beyond the typical, short-visioned, “Trends for next year” article.
This article was originally published at zoia.org.