The Inevitable

Rating: 3.5/5

Kevin Kelly is technologist one of the founding editors of Wired magazine. In The Inevitable, he writes about the 12 technological forces that are shaping our world. He doesn’t try to predict the future. Instead, he discusses technological trends that have gotten us to where we are now and why they’ll continue to push us over the next several decades. I’m not personally as hyped over some of the forces (Screening and VR for two examples), but I do think Kelly is a smart, futuristic thinker, which made the book interesting to listen to. Some trends (accessing and remixing) seem more positive than others.

The twelve forces are:

  1. Becoming
  2. Cognifying—Soon, everything will have a chip embedded (toasters, toilets, etc).
  3. Flowing
  4. Screening—For most things in the future, we’ll interact over a screen.
  5. Accessing
  6. Sharing
  7. Filtering
  8. Remixing—We’ll be able to break apart anything (music songs, movies, etc) and remix them into our own creations.
  9. Interacting
  10. Tracking—Everything from cookies on the internet to step counters will continue to accelerate.
  11. Questioning—We’ll be able to ask better and better questions. Soon, even computers will be able to ask questions.
  12. Beginning

I did really enjoy how he framed privacy and a discussion around Edward Snowden:

If symmetry can be restored so we can track who is tracking, if we can hold the trackers accountable by law (there should be regulation) and responsible for accuracy, and if we can make the benefits obvious and relevant, then I suspect the expansion of tracking will be accepted.

For example, we want personalized experiences (online shopping, social networks, etc), but we’re not willing to expose some of our personal selves to get those benefits because the transaction is so opaque.

He also had some great thoughts on patronage—audiences and fans want to pay for creators. They will only do so under four conditions:

  1. It must be easy to do.
  2. Amount must be reasonable.
  3. There’s a clear benefit to paying.
  4. It’s clear the money will directly benefit the creators.